Sunday, December 1, 2013

[DIY] Build your own full-body workout!

Ahh exercise programming, the stuff trainer's and fitness fanatic's dreams are made of.

Have you ever walked into the gym and realized you have no idea what you're going to do? Maybe you've heard of "f*ckarounditits" and want to avoid it. Perhaps you're ready to embark on a fitness journey and can't afford (or just don't want to pay for) a trainer to help get you started. Whatever the reason, you ought to know the basics of planning a routine.

For the sake of simplicity, I'll take you through three simple steps you should take when planning a full-body workout.

Step 1: Choose a compound movement as your base.

Compound movements are ones that recruit more than one muscle group. Examples of effective compound exercises are bench press, squat, deadlift, and clean & press. There are many others, but these are the main four I tend to gravitate toward.

Muscle groups recruited during bench press (source)

Muscles recruited during squats (source)

Muscles recruited during deadlift (source)

The clean & press which uses all muscle groups! (source)

Step 2: Choose accessory exercises

Accessory exercises tend to have a narrower focus, sometimes on just one muscle group. Choose accessory exercises that will complement your compound movement.

If you use bench as your base, you'll want to throw in some leg and back accessory work like...

  • leg press
  • Leg extensions & curls
  • rows
  • rear flyes
  • shrugs 

If you chose squats as your base exercise, you'll want upper body accessory exercises such as...

  • pull-ups or chin-ups
  • bicep curls
  • seated military press
  • tricep pushdowns
  • pec deck

If you picked deadlift or clean and press as your base exercise, you can really pick any accessory exercises since you've already hit all your muscle groups! Here's some of my favorite things to pair with deadlifts or clean and press…
  • glute bridges
  • toes to bar
  • glute-ham sit-ups
  • glute kickbacks
  • face pulls

Step 3: Cardio

Love it or hate it, it's good for you. Add 10-15 minutes of cardio at the end of your workout to ensure that it is rock solid. The upside to doing cardio in the gym is the variety of choices you have; treadmill, bikes, stairs, elliptical, Jacob's ladder or swimming. If you're at home…you could always do burpees. :)

You can always kick cardio up a notch from steady cardio and introduce intervals. Alternate 15 seconds of higher intensity activity, think sprints, with 45 seconds of lower intensity recovery activity.

I wanted to give you guys a few examples, here's a few weightlifting combos I put together over my Thanksgiving vacation. I put the base exercises in bold.

bench press + shrugs + lunges + seated rows + calf raises + overhead press
machine chest press + row + deadlift + pec flyes + decline crunch superset + leg press + glute kickback
pull-ups + clean & press + triceps pushdown + leg press + leg raise + incline dumbbell bench press

I tend to keep my base exercises toward the front of my workout because they take a lot of energy! If I leave them for the end, I can't do as much and I get frustrated. Compound movements take a lot of (my) energy to complete with proper form, I might start making mental mistakes if I leave them toward the end when I'm tired.

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