A typical workout is different for everyone. Maybe you’re an upper body kind of dude; you like to focus on just the show of muscles. Maybe you’re a cardio queen and stick to your elliptical. Maybe you don’t have a typical workout and you just try to mimic what you see others doing. Maybe you think you have a routine down but really it is doing nothing for you. Or maybe you have no idea what you're doing.
Hopefully if you’ve read some of my other blogs you can see I am an advocate of making goals. Doing something "just because" can be great in other parts of your life: a spontaneous trip, a new nail polish color, getting flowers for a loved one, but when you’re exercising doing something "just because" isn’t the best idea.
When we wander aimlessly around the gym, doing exercises "just because", it usually doesn’t get us very far because there is no rhyme or reason to our routine. Also, if you’ve been doing the same thing for sooo long and yet to see any results or you are still unhappy with your body, it seems like it is time to change your routine.
So one of the main goals of exercising is to lose fat and gain muscle. The best way you can do that is with full body movements. Full body movements and workouts allow you to burn more calories and build muscle tissue. They are a bang for your buck kind of workout and who doesn’t want that?
Full body workouts are just that - they are workouts designed to hit large muscle groups encompassing the whole body. Large muscle groups will burn more calories when worked, over smaller muscle groups. For example, squats, loaded or not (with resistance/weight), will burn more calories than, say, a tricep press. Squats use larger muscle groups: quadriceps, glutes, core, and back. Tricep presses will use the triceps (which are a decently small muscle) and some stabilizing muscles.
It’s a no brainer that you’re getting more out of a squat than you are with a tricep press, unless you just want to have extremely large triceps. Even if you do just focus on something like that, and you actually need to lose weight, you’re just wasting your time. So maybe you’ll have really strong triceps but you won’t even be able to tell because you actually need to do more full body exercises in order to burn more calories and lose more weight. Then, maybe then, you will be able to see your bulging tri’s and all of the work you have put into them.
Going back to one of my previous blogs, I mentioned the seven pillars of exercise. These movements will make up your strength training workouts and some of your conditioning exercises. I will go through them again.
- Squat - maximal knee flexion, minimum hip flexion. This could be in the form of bodyweight squats, goblet squats, front squats, back squats, etc. These can also include types of lunges. This is not using a leg press machine. Free squats must use many, many more muscles due to holding yourself in space. Using a machine is not ideal. Lying in the machine and pushing some weight around is not going to get you very far in life.
- Hinge - maximal hip flexion, minimum knee flexion. This can be in the form of a good mornings, deadlifts, etc. Because hip flexion can be difficult for those with back problems and hip mobility issues, bending motions can be very beneficial. Doing exercises such as hip lifts/thrusters, leg curls, can still fire the glutes and hamstrings but not put so much pressure on the back. Deadlifts are extremely beneficial when done correctly. They are a full body exercise that requires many muscle groups to work together to perform a movement.
- Push - driving a force away from you, whether horizontal or vertical. This can be done with body weight exercise such as push ups, or with loaded exercises, such as the chest press and push press.
- Pull - bringing the resistance towards you, whether horizontal or vertical. This can be done with rows, pulldowns, pull ups, chin ups, etc.
- Core stabilization - keeping the core stable throughout movements. This can be done in the form of planks, chops, and lifts.
- Core rotations - rotating the core. This can be done in the form of dynamic chops and lifts, core rotations using cables, balls, and bands.
- Turkish get up progression - a pattern of movements done in synchronized order to get from lying down to full standing position. This can be done by breaking down the full Turkish get up into quarter, half, and three quarter get ups.
Using these pillars as your base for your workout is a great way to start out. You can break the seven pillars up into different circuits to really get your heart rate going and whole body rocking.
An example full body workout could be (after foam rolling, mobility drills, and a proper warmup of course!):
3x thru each circuit, do circuit 1 fully (do exercise A, then B, then C- repeat for total of 3x thru. Then do the same for circuit 2)
- 12 Goblet squats
- 10 ea Bent over Rows
- 40 sec Elbow plank (progressing or regressing the plank as necessary. I.e. plank on a raised surface to be easier, or plank on an unstable surface such as a ball or adding in reaches to make it harder)
- 8-12 Dumbbell deadlifts (can regress the deadlift to a hip lift, or progress the deadlift to a barbell)
- 8-10 Dumbbell chest press (can regress to a push up or progress to a barbell bench press)
- 10 ea side Band rotations
This is a great way to get full body movements in while having stability with the rest of the body, thus using more muscle groups, burning more calories, and making the most of your precious time. I would recommend doing full body strength training on 2-3 non-consecutive days of the week. Always consult a certified personal trainer when you are unsure of exercises, technique, and if this is what is best for you.