Have you ever dreaded going to they gym? Felt a little overwhelmed by all the equipment, the size of the facility and all of the people? And if you actually made it to the gym, were you unsure of where to start? You’re not alone. More than half of gym goers aren’t working out properly or making effective use of their time. But who’s to blame them? Gyms can be so overwhelming and without a personal trainer to assist it’s easy to get it wrong.
As a health and fitness coach, I cannot stress enough that the most important thing to remember is that everyone is at a different fitness level. Do not expect to walk into a gym after not working out for sometime (or not at all) and do the same as others! Your workout is for YOU and YOU only. It’s your time to do something good for yourself! Enjoy! Who cares what everyone else is doing?
Your first goals need to be proper form and technique. Slow and steady wins the race at the gym, otherwise injuries will occur. If you’re unsure of a certain move or how to use a piece of equipment, ask a fitness professional at the gym to assist you. Again, your safety comes first! You only have one body so keep it safe.
The framework of the workout below can easily be adjusted to fit any fitness level and be accomplished either at the gym or at home. It’s only FIVE different phases to use while creating a workout routine for your self. It’s good to do your home work and go in with a plan. That will make things less intimidating.
- WARM-UP. Warming up seems to be the one thing that most gym goers do not do or do not do effectively. The funny thing is that it takes the least amount of time and prevents the most amount of injuries. The warm up should include stretching, flexibility training and cardio, and on average take about 10 minutes total.Examples of an effective warm up are:
FOAM ROLLER: TFL Stretch
STATIC STRETCH: Standing Adductor
DYNAMIC STRETCH: Tube Walking Side to SideIn addition to your stretching and flexibility training you’ll want to include cardio, about 5-10 minutes to your Warm-Up routine. Treadmills, rowing machines or stationary bikes are great options to accomplish this.
- CORE/BALANCE/PLOYMETRIC. The core (or abdomen) is the main hub of our body and needs, in my opinion, a signficant amount of time spent in developing it. Think about how often you (should) use your core muscles. It’s the center of all movement in the body and supports your posture and lower back and, with proper training can improve both. Balance training links directly to the core and will help prevent lower lower extremity injuries. For plyometric training it involves quick and powerful movements causing the muscle to contract, like a ‘cocking’ motion. This doesn’t mean you have to complete all three types of training for this phase of your workout. Choose one or more depending on your fitness level. Another option is to find exercises that incorporate all three moves. Examples of Core/Balance/Plyometric training are:
CORE: Two-Leg Floor Bridge
CORE and BALANCE: Single-Leg Lift and Chop
PLYOMETIC: Squat Jump with Stabilization
- SPEED/AGILITY/QUICKNESS. This may be something new to many of you, but what’s great about SAQ training is that it’s fun and effective. (SAQ is the favorite phase of my workouts!) It allows the body to enhance how you accelerate, decelerate and stabilize your entire body. The speed gives you the ability to move your body in one intended direction as fast as possible. The agility gives you the ability to accelerate, decelerate, stabilize, and change direction quickly while maintaining proper posture. And the quickness gives you the ability to react and change your body position with maximal rate of force production, in all planes of motion and body positions. The best way I can describe this phase of the workout is like playing Red Light, Green Light (taking you back to grade school). Stop Go, Stop Go, Go Stop Go! Examples of SAQ are:
SAQ: Box Drill, 10 yards each sprint
SAQ: Speed Ladders (using taped off boxes)
- RESISTANCE. The resistance training phase is about the body increasing functional capacity. In other words, building muscle. It’s up to you how much or little time you want to spend here, and whether you’re looking to build muscle endurance, enlarge the muscles, build strength or increase power. Again, everyone is at a fitness level and if you’re a beginner, you should choose endurance. What’s great about resistance training is that you can use your own body weight, bands, free weights, medicine balls, strength machines, kettle bells, TRX and BOSU balls.Examples of Resistance training are:
Squat, Curl to Press
Standing Cable Row
- COOL-DOWN. Ah, the cool down! You’ve earned it. This is the time to put yourself in a state of rest. The cool down has tons of benefits like reducing your heart and breathing rates, cooling your body temperature and returning the muscles back to their optimal length. It all sounds very scientific and there definitely is a science behind working out in general! Examples of a Cool Down are:
Foam Roller Stretch: Hamstring
Static Stretching: Soleus
And just like your Warm Up, you can Cool Down by getting back on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes at a SLOW pace to cool down the body.
A workout should take you about an hour in total if you’re only focused on one portion of your body (which I highly recommend). Creating a workout schedule is really important. For example, working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday is optimal, separating out muscle groups: Monday: Back and Chest, Wednesday: Legs, and Friday: Shoulders and Arms. This way your muscles rest in-between workouts and have time to recover. I suggest writing this down on a calendar so you can plan out the entire month, and have accountability to it!
The important thing, with any workout, is to mix it up. Don’t do the same routine over and over. Not only will you become bored, but your muscles will get muscle memory and stop growing or strengthening and you’ll plateau.
It’s time to start enjoying your workouts again, and with the above routine I KNOW you will!