Ah, summer: A time to frolic in the forest, to soak up the sun, to be happily on holiday… And also a time to get rocked off your regular regimen.
With Labor Day behind you, you may be thinking to yourself: “OK! I’m ready to get back into a regular schedule and get my self-care back on track! I’ll be able to go to the gym more consistently now and eat three square meals and be my best healthy self!” You, like many people, may also find yourself parked outside the gym saying, “Wait. I don’t actually know what I should do…” so you either go home or hop on the elliptical for 45 minutes.
Well, we’ve got you! We are here to help demystify what a well-rounded, effective workout looks like AND give you a ready-to-go program you can do at the gym!
5 Building Blocks For A Total-Body Workout:
1) BREATHING. Why start with breathing? Whether you're exercising first thing in the morning or later in the day, jumping right into a session can mean that your mind was ready but your body was not. Doing some deep, diaphragmatic breathing helps your body take in oxygen; it helps you use the proper muscles during movements.
2) WARM UP. Don’t worry about holding stretches for long periods of time here. That kind of stretching is better left at the end if you do it at all. You will want to move your joints around and get your heart rate up a little bit for 5-10 minutes, though, by doing some dynamic stretching (see the warmup sample below).
3) CORE EXERCISES (which includes the booty) to start. Just two or three exercises here can work wonders. You want your central nervous system to recognize what position your pelvis and rib cage should be in before starting to get into total-body/multi-joint movements. Think planks, glute bridges, dead bugs, bird dogs. Find some of our favorite core exercises below.
4) WHOLE BODY MOVEMENTS. For the body of your workout, I would rather you think of “movements” rather than “exercises”. Why? Because if you’re thinking of exercises, you may be more likely to do exercises you are the most comfortable with. In our experience it usually goes: Squats, pushups, bicep curls and hanging out on the elliptical. Don't get us wrong, those can be GREAT exercises in a well-rounded routine, but those particular examples only work the front of your body...which means your back side gets the cold shoulder.
This is where thinking of movements comes in handy. When programming, we like to think of six main movement patterns (keep reading for examples of each type!):
A. Knee dominant (such as a squat)
B. Hip dominant (such as a deadlift)
C. Vertical push (such as an overhead press)
D. Vertical pull (such as a pullup)
E. Horizontal push (such as a pushup)
F. Horizontal pull (such as a row)
5) CARDIO FINISHER. Have some gas left in the tank? Get a little cardio blast in before you leave! You can do pretty much anything at the end, regardless of how much time you have.
Now let's put it all together!
Putting The 5 Building Blocks Into Practice!
Here is what your total-body workout might look like*:
BUILDING BLOCK #1: BREATHING. Do this for about two minutes.
BUILDING BLOCK #2: WARM UP. Get your body moving gently for 5-10 minutes. See the entire warmup routine here.
BUILDING BLOCK #3: CORE WORK. Perform these two exercises back-to-back with 30 seconds of rest in between. Repeat for a total of two sets.
- Anti-Rotation Planks: Do 5-10 on each side.
- Pullovers: Do 6-8.
BUILDING BLOCK #4: WHOLE BODY CIRCUIT (A-F). Do the following exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between. Take a minute after completing the circuit to get water and let your heart rate come down. Repeat for a total of three rounds.
A. 4-2-1 Squats (Knee dominant): Do 6-8.
B. Hamstring Curls with a Bridge (Hip dominant): Do 10-12.
Note: You can also do this with a stability ball under your feet.
C. Half Kneeling Chop and Lift (Vertical push): Do 6-8 on each side.
D. Band Lat Pulldown (Vertical pull): Do 12-15.
Note: If your gym has a lat pulldown machine, you can do these there, too!
E. Floor Press (Horizontal push): Do 8-12.
F. Standing Rows (Horizontal pull): Do 8-12.
Note: If your gym has a cable machine, you can do this same exercise using it!
BUILDING BLOCK #5: CARDIO FINISHER.
Let's say you have 5 minutes left in your workout time. Pick one of these exercises and do it 5-10 times at the top of every minute, OR aim to do 3-5 rounds of 1-2 of these with a little bit of rest (if you need it) in between.
Alright! Now you've got some tools in your tool box to go out and get back into the swing of things! Of course, if you need more information or want more professional guidance on the 5 Building Blocks or what makes a great total-body workout, please don't hesitate to reach out by emailing us here or calling 312-497-8999.
Did you do this workout? Leave us a comment below!
*Thanks to Izzy for the use of all of the videos!