A well known figure in the the physical therapy and Crossfit community, Dr. Kelly Starrett, states that, “all human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”
Kelly is flat out right. I’d like to add on to that by saying every person should be able to put together a basic workout for himself that is cohesive, effective, and actually has a point.
Are you the person who goes to workout with good intentions, but find yourself bouncing around from one exercise to the next without any real rhyme or reason?
I’m writing this for you to hopefully provide some direction.
The following is a 4 step breakdown of how to create your own personalized workout session. The best part? You don’t need a gym to do it!...Unless you want and have one of course.
Have you ever stopped and paid attention to someone who moves through a workout as though it’s been planned out?
They start with some movements that prep the body for work followed by a series of exercises that focus on their strength or conditioning. And finally, if they were smart, would end the session with some more movements that wind-down the body and takes advantage of the heat the exercises beforehand produced.
Nine times out of ten that person has experience working out or they planned ahead. Here I lay out those parts in detail so that whether you’re tagging along with a friend to the gym or you just want structure to your home workouts, you have a game plan.
Part 1: Mobility
Traditionally, the beginning of a workout is referred to as the warm-up.
Many personal trainers and group fitness instructors will have you do some sort of cardio related exercise like jogging on the treadmill or have you hop on a bike, which isn’t entirely bad, but it fails to address all the components needed to prime your body for more strenuous activity.
A good warm-up not only gets your heartrate and core temperature up, but provides some stretching, preps all major muscle groups for work, and allows the practice of essential exercises. That is why I like to start workouts focusing on mobility.
Mobility isn’t just another word for flexibility. It is being able to do a functional movement while having core strength, balance, and coordination to do so without any restrictions in your range of motion (ROM).
Flexibility makes us better at mobility.
I like to take my clients through 3-4 movements that take up 8-10 minutes and are based on what we will work on during that session.
Here are some great mobility moves to learn:
- Lat stretch + Thread the Needle
- Hip Flexor Plank
- Overhead Squat into Up-dog
- 3-Point Lunge
Part 2: Skill Work
Skills and movements in which you aren’t the greatest are best to tackle early on in the workout while you’re still fresh. Therefore, after mobility is an ideal time to practice skills or to work on movements you want to master.
For instance, with a band new client I will have them practice plank variations as their skill work to build their core stability, or hip hinges to build a base for activities like deadlifts and kettlebells swings down the road.
A further progressed person may choose to work on strict pull-ups or activities that help them get comfortable with being upside down.
Part 3: Strength & Conditioning
The strength and conditioning portion of your workout is where you can mix together every variation of squats, push-ups, sit-ups, dips, pull-ups, planks, jumps, handstands, lunges, bridges, running, rowing, etc., in as many ways as creatively possible.
This is where I personally try to make things fun for the client by working on their weaknesses while also playing to their strengths.
My advice here: don’t make this part long or overly arduous.
Go intensely but listen to your body. When it says, "I don’t want to push anymore", call it a complete workout and move into your cooldown.
Part 4: Cooldown
The final part of your workout, the cooldown, is exactly what the title suggests. Many people skip the cooldown which is such a huge disservice to the recovery process.
The purpose here isn’t to stretch out every muscle in your body (unless you need it), but is to take advantage of the heat your body produced during the workout to tend to your tightest muscles and most immobile joints.
Many people deal with tight thoracic spines, tight hamstrings and lower back, and shortened hip flexors from living a predominantly seated lifestyle.
Therefore, do a self check. Figure out where you have the least range of motion and start by spending 45-60 seconds mobilizing and stretching it out. If you’re tight on time, use a foam roller.
I hope these pointers help the next time you go workout. If you're looking for a workout program that's like this but personalized to your needs, check out my online fitness coaching.