I like to think that I'm in control of a lot of situations... especially my workouts! There are times that I love getting locked into a great training program that I've planned for 6 or 8 weeks of deliberate training. Other times, I like to walk into the gym and do whatever exercises come to mind that day. Admittedly I get better results when I've programmed out for several weeks it feels good to just go with the flow sometimes. Whatever your mode of operation is, one thing is certain, you need these 5 exercises to see any sizable gains in your training and body! Here's a quick reference of the 5 core movements that you need to build your workout around
1. Squat! How could any other exercise be at #1! The squat recruits an insane amount of muscle mass which will torch calories.
2. Bench press- lots of ladies will shy away from the bench press because females are naturally not as strong as our male counterparts in the upper body. All the more reason to work on it right!?
3. Deadlift- Ok, so I would love to see women across America pulling some heavy deadlifts. Truth is, they are hard to execute properly, and there are a lot of variations that will develop your hamstrings. This exercise is especially important for women, plus it will give you backside a nice lift! Don't neglect the hamstrings...ever!
4. Pull-up or row- lets face it, pull-ups are ROUGH! But again, there are so many variations to the pull up that can get your the pull that you need in your workout. When in doubt, always find a rowing exercise for your workout. It will pull your shoulders out of a rounded position and help you stand straighter and taller.
5. HIIT!!! That stands for High Intensity Interval Training! - There are several ways to incorporate HIIT into your workouts. You can run hills, flip tires, use the sledge hammer (my personal favorite), run sprints, run bleachers... the possibilities are endless. Just remember HIIT is ALL OUT! For a short burst, then double that time and recover. Save nothing. Take no prisoners. Do it for 20 minutes and you are DONE!! The best way to portion your time is a 2:1 ratio. that means something like 1 minute of rest followed by 30 second of all out,... repeat. Do HIIT on your days off from lifting or at the end of your workouts.
Now what? Well now that you have the information. Build your own program around these principles. I like to call this the push-pull workout. You need a push for your upper and lower body (squat= lower body push, Bench press= upper body push) then you need an upper and lower body pull (deadlift or hamstring exercise=lower body pull, pull-up or row=upper body pull). It's up to you now to vary those exercises and create your own little workout menu! Here are some ideas, try single arm variations of these exercises, try switching from dumbbell to barbell exercises or vice versa. You can even use kettlebells, or ropes to get these movements. I've done an entire pulling workout with a rope and a sled before, great recipe if you're bored in your workout!
Here are some examples with the deadlift, starting with a traditional deadlift.
Here is the single leg variation for the exercise, be sure to keep the shoulder blades squeezed and knee slightly bent.
single arm row, a variation for an upper body pull
Single arm bench press for an upper body push
There are your 5 Core movements! As I said, use these as your backbone, keep them in your program consistently but vary the selection and intensity every 3-4 weeks.