Excuse #1: I don’t have a plan

“I don’t have a plan.”

“I don’t know what to do.”

You walk into the gym. What machines do you use? What exercises do you do? Reps? Sets? Weight? What about in your workout tomorrow?

I’m going to make it easy for you and outline exactly what you need to do in the gym. Your tasks:
1) Read this article
2) Print the workout PDF
3) Jot some notes on exercise form from my cues and included videos, or pull up this article on your phone at the gym
4) Get  your butt in the gym and work hard, for about an hour, at least 3 days a week or 4 days if you can include an extra credit cardio session.

I’ll walk you through it. 3 days of full body strength training. It’s a great start if your goal is to lose weight, get in shape, and build some muscle tone.  Here’s the plan:

Each day: 

Warm up: 5 minutes cardio, 5 minutes foam roll
Spend 10 minutes rotating through exercises A1, A2, and A3.
Spend 10 minutes rotating through exercises B1 and B2.
Spend 10 minutes rotating through exercises C1, C2, and C3.
Spend 5-10 minutes on exercise D.

Week 1-2: Choose weight for each exercise that’s “medium” difficulty.
Week 3-4: Choose weight for each exercise that’s challenging in the last 3 reps.
**Never choose heavier weight if you can’t perform the exercise with good form**

Do this routine for up to 8 weeks!

Warmup

Before you do anything in the gym, warm up! 5 minutes on a cardio machine of your choosing, going from light intensity to medium intensity. Some ideas:

  • Incline walk on a treadmill. Start at 3.0 mph with a 5.0 incline. Over the course of 5 minutes, increase speed to 3.5mph.
  • Stepmill (the one with a conveyor belt of steps). Start at an easy level (1 or 2). Over the course of 5 minutes increase up to a moderate level (3 to 5).

Then, foam roll your legs and upper back at a minimum. This should take less than 5 minutes.

  • Hamstrings (back of thighs)
    hamstrings_foam-roller
  • Quadriceps (front of thighs)
    bordon_quadriceps
  • IT Bands (Outside of thighs)
    itb-foam-roller
  • Adductors (Inside of thighs)
    stuartkari072314_3449_lowres
  • Calves (Back of lower legs)
  • Glutes (Booty)
    images
  • Upper Back
    woman-foam-rolling

Workout A

A1. Chest Supported DB (dumbbell) Row (10 reps)

  • Set an incline bench to a 30- to 45-degree angle from horizontal
  • Rest your chest on the bench with DBs in your hands.
  • Use a neutral grip, palms facing toward your body

A2. Incline DB Press (10 reps)

  • Done on same incline bench set up.
  • Shoulder blades are pulled back behind the body the entire movement.
  • Arms should be at a 45-degree angle to your body, so not flush at sides or straight out from shoulders.

A3. Hip Thrust (10-20 reps)

  • Position your back against a flat bench, with the bench hitting your back just below your shoulder blades
  • Feet are a little wider than your hips
  • Knees are in a line between your ankles and hips
  • Push through your heels and raise your hips up, squeeze booty at the top
  • Start with two legs, no weight, doing 10 rep sets. Increase reps up to 20. Once you can do 20 reps on two legs, try 10 reps using a single leg.
  • This is a long video, but it’s worth the watch.

B1. Leg Press (Machine) (10 reps)

  • Position your feet hip width apart, high enough on the pad so that when knees bend they don’t go past your toes.
  • As your knees bend, keep them in line with your middle toes. Don’t let knees cave in as they bend.
  • Push through your heels as you extend your legs.
  • Don’t lock out your knees

seated-leg-press

B2. Walking Lunges (20 steps total)

  • Hold dumbbells at your sides, starting with light weight(5lbs).
  • Take a big step forward, bend back knee and drive it toward the ground without touching the ground
  • Don’t let front knee go past front toes
  • Keep torso straight up
  • Keep heel of front foot down through lunge movement

C1. Plank (30 seconds to 1 minute)

  • Take deep breaths while holding
  • Don’t let hips dip (with lower back arched) or hips rise into the air
  • Contract the front abs, bringing the pelvis toward the lower ribs

C2. Dead bug twist (20 total or 10 each side)

  • Lower back stays flat to the ground the entire time with abs engaged (draw belly button toward spine)
  • Feet in air, knees bent at a 90-degree angle
  • Arms are straight up in air
  • Rotate torso slightly to one side and then the other
  • Once this gets easier, hold a weight in your hands

     

C3. Scaption (10 reps)

  • Only raise arms to same height as your shoulders (not above as shown in video).

D. Sprints (30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds rest)

  • Set treadmill speed at your sprint pace.
  • Sprint for 30 seconds, then jump off and rest for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.
  • Always start your sprints with a more conservative speed and increase speed on 2nd and 3rd sprints.

Workout B

A1. Seated Cable Row (10 reps)

  • Only arms and shoulders move, not torso.
  • Use an underhand grip with hands shoulder-width apart.

A2. Bench Pushups (6 to 12 reps)

  • This is a progression to pushups on the ground
  • Arms at a 45 degree angle to the body
  • Work up to 12 rep sets on the bench. Once those are easy, work up to 10 rep sets on the ground (flat), then 10 rep sets with your feet on the bench and hands on the ground.

A3. Sumo Squats (10 reps)

  • Wide stance, booty back, knees out
  • Push through heels coming up
  • Keep back straight

weighted-sumo-squat

B1. Kettlebell (KB) Deadlift (10 reps)

  • Keep heels in contact with ground and back straight

B2. Step Up (with DBs) (10R/L)

  • Start with no weight
  • Push through heel
  • Back straight, chest up
  • Do all the reps on one side, then all the reps on the other side

C1. Deadbug Progression (10R/L)

  • Low back flat against ground
  • Alternate right and left side reps

C2. Diagonal Curl Up (10R/L)

  • 10 reps on the left side then 10 reps on the right side

C3. DB Bicep Curl (10R/L)

  • Alternate arms: right arm curls, left arm curls, right arm curls, left arm curls….
  • Standing
  • Palm up
  • Move slow and controlled through entire rep

Alternating-bicep-curl-female

 

D. Jump Rope: alternate 1 minute jumping, 30 seconds rest

  • Keep your shoulders back, chest up
  • First minute: singles (one double-leg jump per rope turn)
  • Second minute: “+” shape. Hop forward-back, left-back, right-back, back-forward while jumping rope
  • Third minute: alternating single leg jump, one jump per rope turn.
  • 1-3 rounds of this!

Workout C

A1. Lat Pulldown (10)

  • Keep shoulders back and down the entire time
  • Overhand, shoulder-width grip or a little wider

lat-pulldown

A2. Cable Chest Press (10)

  • Don’t let elbows go behind your body

A3. Birddog (10 R/L)

  • Opposite arm and leg
  • Keep trunk, shoulders, hips stable
  • Hold each rep 5 seconds

B1. Goblet Squat (10)

  • Booty back
  • Back straight
  • Hold weight at your chest
  • Keep heels down and push through heels to come up

B2. Single Leg (SL) Deadlift (10 R/L)

  • Hold one weight (kettle bell or dumbbell) with two hands
  • Keep back straight
  • Slight bend in the knee
  • You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstring
  • Actively extend through back leg to counterbalance

Single-Leg-Deadlift-Kettlebell.jpg

C1. Cable Wood Chop Low to High (10R/L)

C2. Med Ball Crunch (10)

  • Hold ball overhead
  • Actively press lower back into ground
  • Raise ball to ceiling until shoulder blades come off the ground
  • Hold for one second before lowering

mb53_medicine_ball_workouts_crunch_medicine_ball2

C3. Cable Tricep Extension (10 R/L)

tricep-rope-extensions.jpg

D. Plyo Circuit:

20 Lateral Hops (pause and balance for a moment on each rep, start with narrow jumps, get wider)


10 Box Jumps (jump up, step down one foot at a time)
Unknown-1.jpeg
20 Up and Overs (start slow, get faster!)
lateral-jump-over
20 Skips (moving or in place)


 

Here’s a PDF you can print with all three workouts:

Full Body Beginner Workouts ABC


 

Extra credit cardio session:

Cardio Option A: 30 minutes of steady-state exercise

  • First 5 minutes: slowly warmup from light intensity to moderate intensity
  • 20 minutes at moderate intensity (an intensity where you are working but not working at an all-out or “sprint” level)
  • Last 5 minutes: cool down by decreasing your pace or resistance over 5 minutes

Cardio Option B: 30 minutes of Intervals

  • First 5 minutes: slowly warmup from light intensity to moderate intensity
  • 7 Intervals (21 minutes) of:
    • 1 minute at high intensity (sprint, max, push yourself, as hard as you can go for the minute)
    • 2 minute at low intensity (keep moving but let your body and breathing recover)
  • Last 4 minutes: cool down by decreasing your pace or resistance over 4 minutes

Ways to increase cardio intensity: 

  • Increase resistance
  • Increase incline on treadmill
  • Increase pace

**use hands to hold onto cardio equipment as little as possible

Easy Peasy!

Now print the PDF and get to the gym!

Let me know how it goes!

 

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A Warm Up and A Workout

I write a lot about the pieces of the workout puzzle. For a change, here is a workout to try!

Dynamic Warm Up

  1. Start with some foam rolling. Get 4 positions on your thighs:  front (quads), outside (IT Band), inside (adductor), back (hamstrings). Then, roll calves, glutes, upper back, lats and pecs. Only spend 10-20 seconds on each body part.

2. Perform some mobility drills

Rocking Ankle Mobility, 5 times each side

Side Lying Windmill, 5 times each side

Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion, 8 times

High Knee Walk to Spiderman with Hip Lift and Overhead Reach, 5 times each side

Workout

The last 2-3 reps of a set should be difficult, but you should be able to perform all sets with good form. Challenge yourself!

Exercises A1, A2, and A3 are performed in order, one set of each, then repeated for 3 total cycles.

A1. Inverted Row (8-12 reps)

3743CB32D2C136941715AF47C54F6EA.standard.jpg

I like to use a secured smith machine for this. Keep your core engaged, glutes squeezed. To make this harder, make your body more horizontal (lower the bar or raise your heels onto a box. To make it easier, position your body more vertically (raise the bar).

A2. Incline Pushup (or regular pushup if you can do it with good form) (8-15 reps)

incline-push-ups

You can use the smith machine bar for this exercise as well, or a bench as pictured. The keys are good form and full range of motion. You should position your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your sides, and you should descend until your elbows make 90-degree angles. Similar to the rows, keep your core engaged and glutes squeezed the entire movement.

A3. Deadbug (10 reps each side, 20 total)

The picture above with the arrows depicts the starting position for this exercise. The key to this movement is to keep the abdominals engaged the entire time by actively trying to press your belly button toward your spine and your lower back into the ground.

images

The next picture is the most basic progression of this exercise. One leg at a time lowers to the ground, then comes back up to the starting position. Keep the lower back in contact with the ground the entire time.14499256(400x400).jpg Once you master that movement, begin to straighten the legs as you lower them to the ground. After mastering that, add the arm movement, lowering the opposite arm while straightening the leg, keeping the lower back in contact with the ground.

Perform one set of each exercise, B1 and B2, then repeat for 3 total cycles.

B1. Stiff Leg Deadlift (10-12 reps)

Stiff-Leg-Deadlift

This is basic hip hinge movement. Start light–just a barbell. Position hands just outside of the hips. Keeping the back straight and knees soft (not locked out, but not bent much), bend at the hips and slide the bar down your legs. Think about trying to touch the wall behind you with your booty as you bend over. Lower the bar until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings (the back of your legs). The, push through your heels as you raise to standing. Squeeze your booty at the top position.

B2. Walking DB Lunges (20 steps, 10 on each leg)

Walking-Lunges-with-Dumbbells

Grab a pair of light dumbbells (or heavier if you’re feeling ambitious!). Hold them at your sides like suitcases. Take a large step forward, drive your back knee into the ground and bend your front knee (don’t let it go forward past your toes). Also be sure not to lean too far forward with your torso-keep it upright!

Perform 3 cycles of exercises C1, C2, and C3:

C1. Bench Dips (10-15 reps)

To make these easier, keep your knees bent and use your legs to assist. To make these harder, straighten your legs, elevate your legs, or place a weight plate on your lap.

C2. Glute Bridge (15-20 reps)

bridge.png.jpeg

Keep your hips, knees, and ankles in a line. Push through your heels and squeeze your booty at the top. To increase difficulty, hold the top position, squeezing your glutes for 2-5 seconds on each rep.

C3. Prone T’s on Stability Ball (10-15 reps)

ITYW.jpg

Position chest against stability ball. I like to keep the knees on the ground in this exercise (contrary to what’s pictured). Raise arms straight out to the sides and rotate thumb-side of hands toward the ceiling.

This workout should take about an hour.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

If you are interested in training with me, contact info is on my About page.

#k8irelandactive

The Often Overlooked Warm up

Arrive at gym. Check-in at the front desk.  Walk to treadmill. Start running.
Arrive at gym. Check-in at the front desk. Walk to bench press. Perform working sets of exercise.
What’s missing here? The warm up! And by “warmup” I don’t mean 3 arm circles before benching or a 5 second quad stretch and toe-touch before running.

Why should you warm up?

It took me a few years of working out before I started to value my warm up. I neglected it because 1) I didn’t know how to warm up, and 2) I “couldn’t” spare the time before hitting the weights. Not warming up all that time is probably one of the biggest reasons I acquired so many injuries, aches, and pains along the way. Here are some benefits to having a proper warm up:

  • Increases body temperature (literally warms up the body)
  • Lubricates joints
  • Engages the nervous system (did you know a lot of our strength gains are attributed to the nervous system?)
  • Muscle flexibility, extensibility, and ability to achieve a full range of motion
  • Educates the body about or solidifies proper movement patterns
  • Focuses the mind on the workout ahead
  • Brings awareness into the body
  • Prevents injuries

My weightlifting journey and how my warmups have progressed:

I’ve always believed I can do anything I put my mind to, and during my freshman year at UCLA, I decided to become a runner like my mom and what better, extreme way than to sign up for a marathon. I started training in January, running the longest distance I could, 1 mile. I ran my booty off over the next 5 months, and in June, I completed the marathon. I was a runner. Well, turns out, I can run, I just don’t like to. After finishing that marathon, I had no desire to run that much ever again. So, I started weight lifting (long tangent there, I know, I’m going to talk about warm ups now), and here I am almost 6 years later.
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At first, there were no warm ups in my routine. It wasn’t too big of a deal, I suppose, because I was 19 years old and lifting relatively low weights. As my lifts got heavier, I started including one warm up set at about 50% of my “work” weight in the first exercise of my workout. Next, I got a little crazy (hint: sarcasm) and added 3 whole minutes of cardio before embarking on my one warmup set. Then, 3-5 minutes of cardio, foam rolling, and a warmup set. Currently, I’ve cut out the cardio, and I include foam rolling/small ball rolling and 4-8 mobility drills in my warm up before some lighter sets on my first exercise (only if it’s a heavy lift).

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a great way to increase circulation and flexibility/extensibility before a workout and break up adhesions in muscle tissue. It’s a better alternative to traditional stretching (holding a static position for 30 seconds) before a workout because traditional stretching has been shown to make muscles too lax (not elastic enough) when done before resistance training and can lead to decreases in strength and greater risk of injury.

If you’ve been reading a lot of my posts, you should know by now that I’m a huge fan of Eric Cressey’s coaching and articles. Here is his video of a great foam roll/small ball rolling series to include before each workout. I do this on each side of the body (give or take some of the small ball exercises and the pec foam rolling) for 10-15 seconds per body part before each strength training workout. It may take a long time to perform for the first week or two, but eventually this becomes a pretty quick routine. One tip: to avoid placing the lower back in a bad position (excessively arched), stay on your elbows when rolling in the face down positions.

This foam rolling routine can be performed any time during the day but should be done at least once a day on workout days. I find it easiest to include in my warm up.

To read more about foam rolling and how it benefits the body, check out one of Eric Cressey’s articles here.

Mobility Drills

These are dynamic movements (meaning, they aren’t held like a traditional stretch) that target different regions of the body and various movement patterns. This is a good place to put a little work into personal deficits (for me, raising my shoulders overhead) and commonly injured areas. I tend to scour Eric Cressey’s articles for mobility drills that fit my current needs. A simple Google search of “Eric Cressey [body part] mobility” tends to bring up good exercises. I also use Kelly Starrett, Bret Contreras, Sohee Lee, and Layne Norton as resources for warm up drills.

Top areas of the body to address during warm up are:

  • Ankle Mobility  (1 of these should suffice)
    • Wall Ankle Mobilization with Adduction/Abduction
    • Rocking Ankle Mobility
  • Thoracic Spine Mobility (1-2 of these, maybe 3 if it’s a weakness or an upper body day)
    • Bench T-Spine Mobilization
    • Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion
    • Bent Over T-Spine Rotation
    • Side Lying Windmill
  • Hip Mobility (3-4 exercises)
    • Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization
    • Supine Bridge with Reach
    • Yoga Pushup
    • Spiderman with Hip lift and Overhead Reach
    • Bowler Squat
    • Alternating Lunge with Overhead reach (Hips and T-Spine)

For any of these exercises, perform 5-8 reps (per side), slow and controlled. Some other tips for efficient warm up structure: Order the exercises from those done on the floor to those done standing to those done moving and go from single-joint exercises to compound/multi-joint ones. For a faster warm up, stick to the compound drills that hit multiple joint targets, like the alternating lunge with overhead reach.

My Current Warm Up:

To be honest, I can’t take credit for it; I found it in one of Sohee Lee’s articles. It’s done wonders for keeping me injury free this last month. I’m often modifying it, though, adding and subtracting certain drills to fit my specific needs. This is a great place to start.

Screen-Shot-2012-07-06-at-9.19.46-PM1-300x222.png

A. Bird dogs X5/side

B. Rocking Ankle Mobility X5/side
(See video above)

C. Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization X8/side
(also in a video above)

D. Bent over T-spine Rotation X5/side
(video above)

E. Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion X8
(video above)

F. Glute Wall March with Iso Holds 2 X 5sec hold/side

G. Bowler Squat X5/side
(Video above)

H. Cradle walk to spiderman with hip lift and reach X5/side
(Video above)

This warmup takes 15-20 minutes, and by the time I’m finished, I’m sweaty, mobile, and ready to kick ass with my lifts.

For more reading about warm ups check out Eric Cressey’s 6 Characteristics of a Good Dynamic Warm-up.

What is your warm up? Let me know if you give mine a try!