Designing a workout plan or just going to the gym without a plan at all can be very overwhelming. Most gyms have a vast amount of unnecessary machines or the latest “six pack ab” gizmo. On top of that there are people of all shapes and sizes doing who knows what without any professional help. Being in this situation may cause you to just follow the pack and pick up ideas from the general public on what you should be doing in the fitness center. To make things clear, not every fitness plan needs to involve the gym. If going to the health club isn’t your thing I don’t blame you. Fitness and health first and foremost is just moving your body like humans are meant to move. However if you want to get into the swing of working out but don’t know where to start, I have a few suggestions in regards to what movements to be doing. I do suggest that to properly execute these movements you seek out the advice from a personal trainer. This will insure you execute the proper progression of these movements to strengthen your body while avoiding injury.
No matter who I am training (highly trained rock climber, high school golfers and the 9-5 business person) I will include these movements in their training regime. However depending on what they are training for I will change up the volume and even the variation of the movement (ex. add weights to the climbers waist on body weight rows). All these movements are dynamic and done with free weights or just your body weight. The significance of doing machine free dynamic movements encourages full body engagement (use your core!) to complete the rep.
squat – done in many forms (barbell front, barbell back, barbell overhead, goblet, zurcher, etc), this is the foundation of fitness. In order to execute a squat properly you must be in tune with your entire body and alignment (knees stable, chest up, butt out, etc). In order to do that it all starts with using your CORE.
push up – not only does doing a proper push up strengthen your chest but it will stabilize your shoulders. On top of that your core is doing a lot of work here in order to keep your hips in line with your spine. Oh ya and don’t forget to squeeze those glutes to keep your entire posterior chain locked into place.
body weight row – think of these are the opposite of a push up. So the opposite of strengthing your back you will be hitting your back hard. Also just like push ups keep your core engaged to stop that but and hips from sagging.
windmill – Stabilizing your fragile and injury prone shoulder all while stretching your lats and hamstrings. This one feels great and I use mostly as a warm up at a very low weight.
good morning – Just like windmills, use this movement as a warm up or cool down. Your hamstrings and upper back will thank you once its all done.
knees to elbows – Stop wrecking your spine with mundane sit ups and crunches. Instead go to the nearest playground, grab a monkey bar and do some knees to elbows. This movement hits your core (your core is not just your abs, lats, back, oblique) in a functional and useful way. On top of that you will start to get a vice grip from hanging onto the bar.
dead lift – The grand daddy of functional movement. Picking up a heavy object from the ground properly requires a lot of muscular activation from you feet up all the way to your hands (grip strength, glute and hamstring activation, scapular compression, body tension etc.). After a day of heavy dead lifts your core will be feeling the burn more than it ever will from hours of crunches. However done improperly can result in some serious back pain, so please employ the help of a certified trainer to learn this one.