Fiscally Fit Fitness Options to Stay in Shape on a Budget

If you live in the Silicon Valley, you’re most likely a relatively time crunched human. Toss on top of that a family, job and time for exercise and your week can run out of hours pretty quick.

Luckily, you people have me to help you through these dark times to keep you in shape and out of the evil clutches of muscular monotony and the perils of procrastination. As far as I’m concerned, there is ALWAYS time to exercise. Even it is a 15 minute block, you can get something in.

You’ll always be glad you did, you’ll be less stressed and generally a more productive member of humanity on this big blue marble that we live on. The easiest way to accomplish this, is to, well, MOVE!

Ideally, you’d have an hour, if you don’t, here are some pretty effective options low price options to set yourself up for a great bout of exercise that won’t break the bank. The biggest favor you can do yourself is to pick up some of the following toys to stay on top of both your sanity and fitness level.

Valslides ($30)
Great piece of equipment that won’t cost you and arm and a leg. There are a ton of exercises you can do, and for $30 they are a great addition to your gym bag. Click here for more information on how to purchase them, and for some great workouts you can do using them.

If you’ve ever used a slide board, you know what you’re getting into with these. Killer pieces, definitely recommend them.

JC Bands ($19-$50)
I’ve written a ton on how awesome these are to keep your fitness levels up. If you essentially want an entire cable pulley system at your disposal without having to actually, well, own a cable pulley system, these are the perfect way to go. Literally 100′s of exercises at your disposal. Click here to pick up a pair.

Stability Ball ($30)
Some of the so called “pundits” in the fitness industry have rendered these obsolete. This one however still thinks they are an awesome option for a quick hit workout at home for the whole body.

I defy you to get through three sets of the “Triple Threat” without ending up in the fetal position crying “UNCLE!!” as the 4-alarm fire in your hamstrings dissipates. All you need is a little floor space and a ball and you can do plenty to wake up with muscular discomfort the next day. Click here to pick your own spherical object of exercise fun. 

Juan Carlos Santana has a great book called the “Essence of Stability Ball Training” that  has routines you can do to have a ton of exercise fun with a stability ball.

Body Weight (FREE)
The best gym on the planet. Pushups, planks, single leg squats, lunges, side planks, lateral lunges, pull ups, squats and pretty much anything you can come up with. “The New Rules of Lifting” book series has some killer body weight exercises as do some of the books from Pavel Tsatouline, the godfather of the kettle bell.

Also in the body weight category would be walking, running, hiking and skipping. If you’ve only got a few minutes to exercise, these are always great ways to keep the heart pumping to stay fit.

Getting More From Less
If you are going to use some of the above mentioned toys, the best way to do it is to pick 3-4 exercises, set a clock for :30, and move for :30, then rest for :30. Repeat this :30 on/:30 off methodology and you can very easily keep your heart going as long as your schedule (and more importantly, your will) allows.

There are a ton of metabolic conditioning books out there (“Cardio Strength” by Kevin Dos Remedios is one of the better ones), so there is no shortage of information on how to put them together.

So there you have it. For less than $200, you can put together some awesome workouts that will allow you to train anywhere. You no longer have any excuses for not being able to exercise. With that said, TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER AND GO MOVE!!!!

Going on a run? What’s Your Plan?

For some reason a ton of people love running, like a lot. Me, not so much.

Its not like I’m morally or ethically opposed to it, I’d just rather skyrocket my heart rate flying through flowing single track on knobby tires like Luke Skywalker on the speeder bike on Endor. Yeah, I went there. Best single track ever on that planet! Plus, you’d get to chill with Ewoks. Tell me that wouldn’t be an EPIC day in the saddle!!

If for some reason you do want to go on a run, here are some things to keep in mind.

What’s your goal?
What is it you want to work on? Do you have an event coming up? Is there a particular energy system that needs to be addressed? Do you need more hill work? Are there form issues to clean up?

These are the things that will help you to maximize your time spent running and help you get closer to your fitness goals.

What should the warm up look like?
Like running, that’s what it should look like. Low knee skips (I’m not comfortable with the ballistic/explosive variety due to the high level of movement skill and hip stability needed to do them safely), butt kickers,  drop step (backward) lunges (they are more tolerable for most people’s knees and hips), single leg squats, form running focusing on elboy, knee and pelvis angles.

It should last anywhere from 10-20 mins and include standing tubing work to warm up the diagonal loading patterns of the muscles of the core that support you when you run. I’d leave the planks, two leg work, etc off the menu because the don’t look like running.

Great for the gym, not so much for a run based on specificity of training.

What about the workout?
There are a ton of books/Apps that can give you quality workouts, so I won’t go into that. What I will tell you is to start with one question:
What’s the goal? 5K? 10K? 1/2 marathon? Full marathon? Speed work for a rec soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball league?

This is where your programming should come from. Plan it so that your running mirrors the necessary components of your event/sport. You can’t go wrong with specificity of training!

Cool down?
If its at a track, 2-3 clockwise laps will do. It doesn’t take very long and is a good way to unwind left hand turns from the laps you take.

You can throw in some drop step and lateral lunges, but I wouldn’t get too crazy. Core work shouldn’t get too nuts, because if you had a hard workout, stabilizer fatigue could compromise form.

Bridges with two legs are probably the best way to go. They’re easy to set up, easy to do and do a great job of “resetting” the glutes for your next run. If you live in the Silicon Valley, Brigit Das Fitness has a killer workout Mon/Wed nights in Los Altos. Coach B is about the most knowledgeable running coach I know and always puts on a killer workout.

Fitness Q&A: Strength vs Core Training

Got this question the other day, what’s the difference between core and strength training. Before we get too far along, lets talk about what the core does (You can read about it in more depth here in “Your Core: What, Where, How”):

Helps decelerate movement
Helps to stabilize movement
Helps produce movement

That’s the long and short of it, and way too much money has been made turning it into an exercise fad and the magic bullet to training happiness.

If you strength train the right way, you involve the entire core. You can’t separate the two. Lift heavy loads you bet your bottom bracket that the core is fully engaged so you can move.

The core is working all day to stabilize you so you can produce movement. At least that’s how the blueprint is drawn up!

Spend a ton of time seated at a desk all day then ride a bike, and you can inhibit core function as muscle tighten up from the repetitive stress of pedaling.

Core strength is important, but it is something I feel isn’t really understood. Planks, side planks, anti rotation holds, isometrics, etc are all strength building exercises that enhance core strength yes. But they are strength movements that allow you move heavier things safely.

I feel the key really isn’t training one way or the other. They key is getting the brain to program the muscles correctly at a motor learning level to produce proper movement. Once you do this, more of your core will turn on when you strength train, and that’s always a good thing!

You build better core strength from the neck up by improving neuromuscular coordination, or how many muscle fibers your brain can turn in when multiple joints are working together to produce movement. Without this component, you can’t get stronger safely, and you don’t get the full benefit of training.

Take the dead lift for instance. Done properly, damn near every muscle fiber in your body is working to produce movement or to stabilize a joint. This is probably the most important exercise for a cyclist to learn, and the best core exercise you can do.

It “undoes” the seated bent over position of cycling, and opens the front half of the body while hitting the back half. Builds lat strength, strong glutes, rock solid low back muscles and quite a bit more.

Farmers walls and Turkish get ups fall into this category too, IF DONE CORRECTLY. that’s the key: proper movement. ALWAYS get an eval before starting Deads, get ups and farmers walks.  

Seated Machines: Yes or No

Walk into most gyms, and you’ll see rows upon rows of seated machines. Leg presses, hamstring curls, knee extensions and the like are what populate most gym floors and you’ll see a ton of people using them.

But, is this the best way to go to get stronger? If you sit down all day to work, does it make sense to sit when you exercise as well? One of the bigger reasons given for using machines is the reduced risk for injury, but how valid is this?

I’ll be honest, if you read this blog with any frequency, and if you don’t, WHY NOT!, you know that I’d rather get a root canal than use a seated machine to train. With all of the options available, why would someone use what is in my opinion (and several others in the strength coach world) an inferior method of getting stronger?

You CAN use one if you limit your exposure, and incorporate real exercise along the way (single leg deads/squats, Bulgarian split squats, farmer’s walks, etc). But, why take the time when there are much more efficient ways to connect the nervous system and the muscles?

I will point out something that very much makes the argument against sitting down to train. I know bike riders who can uphill in gears so big they can eat up about a mile’s worth of road with one pedal stroke.

Strong right? Wrong. I’ve seen these same riders in a gym setting unable to stand on one leg for more than 15 seconds without flopping around like a picket fence gone awry in a windstorm.  So, seated, supported, on a bike, they can produce a ton of force. When more of the stabilization system of the body needs to work to keep them upright, fitness fail.

So to that point, why leg press when you can squat or deadlift? Two extremely safe movements you can easily learn with a dowel rod that weights about a lb at most.

With all of the resources available online and in book form, let alone the amount of strength coaches you can ask for help, there is no shortage in quality information available to safely learn how to train correctly. So I don’t buy into “machines are safer” as a reason to use one.

Buy Eric Cressey’s “Maximum Strength” book, or “The Single Leg Solution” book/DVD by Mike Robertson or pick up a copy of “Functional Training for Sports” by Mike Boyle, all awesome resources to learn how to train real exercise the right way. In fact the “Essence Of Functional Training” by Juan Carlos Santana is probably the best of the lot in terms of an incredibly simple approach to learning how to train correctly. See, resources, available, en mass, no excuse to not get out of the box at the gym.

With that being said, let’s start this seated machine diatribe with one of the more popular pieces of lower body equipment in a gym, the leg press. Its something that, in this reporter’s opinion, is a completely non-functional piece of equipment, particularly for cyclists on traditional bikes.

The angle of force application is at a 45 degree incline, and unless you’ve just crashed and somehow are still pedaling face up, there is very little to no functional strength carry over to riding a bike from a leg press, let alone specificity of training. Especially since a pedal is pushed down to produce force.

A Bulgarian Split Squat is a much better exercise for a cyclist to do. Step ups are great too. If you can climb a set of stairs pain free, you’ve done step ups.

I’m getting at motor programming here. Want to get better at pushing down a pedal, then, well, apply force in a downward direction. Pretty straight forward!

Not to be left unmentioned that “the further away from a movement you are intending to improve an exercise is, the further away from actually improving that movement you get” as Paul Chek says. The leg press is not a good alternative to the squat for several reasons, and this is but one of them. Soooo, why do it? Work with me here people, I’m here to help!

You’ve got two kinds of posture, static and dynamic. Static is how your muscles align your bones before you move. Dynamic is how your muscles align your bones as you move. Since your power production is limited by joint stability, this is a pretty important concept.

When you use a guided resistance machine in a seated position of any kind, you are not activating the body’s static stabilizers or postural system. This is very important keeping in mind static stability must always proceed force production (1). This is why power meters don’t measure power for cyclists. They measure the amount of force your joint stability allows you to produce.

Machines dictate how a load is moved when you use one. This isn’t how we move in a real world 3D setting. With that being said, in a seated/supported environment your body doesn’t have to recruit as many mechanisms of stabilization because the machine is doing that for you.

“Machines. They really serve no purpose in any resistance training program outside of a rehabilitation setting (and even that’s pushing it),” says Tony Gentilcore (Program Design for Dummies). “Machines do very little as far as improving inter- and intramuscular coordination, and they do nothing for improving core strength.”

In a rehab/corrective setting, where seated position and maybe a supported guided resistance is the only form of movement someone might get post op/injury/etc, then I see the application and I get there will be instances where this will need to be the go to mode of training.

If someone does need to sit to exercise for whatever reason, then you need to ask what else can they do?  Can they pull/press tubing or cable pulleys? What about free weights? Can those be safely added to the mix? What other ways to challenge the nervous system while seated, what are they, and how often can they be done and still move someone forward?

Back to the story. To Gentilcore’s point, I’ve seen people move over 1000lbs on a leg press for a set of 10 who can’t deadlift 200. On the leg press, the load is stabilized for them by the sled.With the deadlift, a lot more neuromuscular coordination needs to take place for the load to be moved off the floor requiring massive neural sequencing of the entire back half of the body.

Our bodies are meant to work in an integrated fashion with multiple joints working together to produce movement. This does not need to happen when you sit down to lift with a fixed/guided load.

If you program your training against how our bodies are designed to move using our static and dynamic postural systems, you will almost always run the risk of creating dysfunctional joint movements during standing functional exercise (1).

Again, if you aren’t working on mastering force production while controlling your center of gravity over your own base of support, mirroring the activity you want to improve, you aren’t helping yourself get better.

This is why hamstring curls, leg presses (even the single leg variety), knee extensions and the like don’t do much to help cycling. The movement patterns are no where near anything you’d do in the saddle! Specificity of training, right?

For the muscles of our core to work correctly, we need proprioceptive input from all three planes of motion (2). These are the saggital (forward/backward), frontal (side to side, don’t ask, I report on the rules I don’t create them!) and the transverse plane (rotation).

Stand up to exercise, you can easily hit all three planes. Sit down with guided resistance, and, well, not so much.

Since most people already live in the saggital plane for the majority of their day at a desk, and in their recreational activities if they swim, ride a bike or run, where is the benefit of exercise that is not only supported, but also takes place in the same plane of motion where they spend most of their time (3)? None that I can see.

But aren’t machines safer to use? This is a common reason cited for the use of machines over free weights.

One that I have a difficult time signing off on. If you can literally incorrectly program your nervous system to produce faulty movement patterns with long term exposure, and essentially keep your static stabilizers from doing their job, how are they safer over the long term?

In their “New Rules for Lifting” book series, Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Shuler outline the most effective training methodologies someone can use to get stronger, leaner and more fit. One of the rules they touch on in the first book of the series is “Don’t do machines,” and I agree.

They mention how the hamstring curl, knee extension, leg press and the like for the lower body don’t come anywhere near actually mimicking a squat pattern, something that is critical for upright ambulatory humans to master because we do it DAILY. The way a machines dictates the way your body moves are very rarely useful in a real world setting where we actually move (4).

When it comes to bilateral movement (two limbs working together) on a machine whether it is the upper or lower body, how often do you actually get two limbs that have the same strength, range of motion or coordination? In the 12 years I’ve been training people, I’ve very rarely seen this.

The joint angles could be different. One hip could be higher than the other, one shoulder could be internally rotated (not too mention elevated) more than the other making moving a weight through a fixed range of motion risky at best due to the fact you may have two different sets of joints that need different ranges of motion to safely work that are forced into a singular movement pattern (4).

“Weights are not quite as likely to cause and acute injury but still pretty safe, however a machine may be more likely to cause a chronic injury because the position and motion of the joints are more constrained,” Steven Rice, strength coach. 

If you are beginning a training program, you need to know that machines have the potential to force your joints into unnatural ranges of motion that can lead to a long term injury. That is what Rice was referring to. Ever had a bad bike fit and developed aches and pains? Your body was forced to work in a specified range of motion and it rebelled. Same thing.

They also prevent your body from doing the most important and useful muscle building movements: integrate compound movement with multiple joints moving at once while you provide your base of support (4).

Use a machine, and you very much run the risk of sustaining a repetitive stress injury.
This means that if you predominantly move in one plane of motion, and you don’t develop the appropriate motor patterns of proper movement, you very much increase the risk of sustaining an injury in working tissues (5). This is what can happen with repeated exposure to a singular movement/exercise.

If you repeatedly hammer the same muscles/tissues that you used in training/competition, you run the risk of reflexively inhibiting local stabilizers and running into pattern overload (6).  Since machines in general limit the natural movement of the body, this is something that can very easily happen.

Again, when you move a weight on a fixed plane of motion, your nervous system isn’t given the freedom it needs  to protect the joints working as well as the relevant soft tissues providing movement from an injury. This gets very tricky when you take into account that moving a load in an isolated manner using a supported machine, the load in the working muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint structures gets a lot higher (6).

When you move a weight in a fixed axis of rotation or range of motion, the muscle fibers that bear the majority of the load are isolated. When these fibers fatigue on a fixed resistance machine, you get less dynamic control over the load and working joints. This in turn can cause a lot more trauma to the working connective tissue, tendon and muscle fibers (6).

Here’s where things get tricky using machines with guided resistance. If you combine poor technique (which most people have, I periodically train in public big box gyms so I see this first hand) with over use with a guided load (which most people will), when fatigue sets in you run the risk of loss of motor control in the relevant movement pattern and plane of motion that can lead to overloading passive joint structures (6).

This again comes back to the fact that our nervous systems thinks in terms of movement patterns and not isolated muscle function. When a command for “move” is given from the brain, the body will move. Regardless of if you are firing your muscles the right way.

Ever sprained an ankle and limped around to get from point A to point B? Done this and eventually developed pain somewhere else? BINGO! You need to move, your body makes it happen even if it leads to something else going south.
This is why it is critical to train using you as your base of support so you don’t run the risk of  creating artificial sensory feedback, faulty sensory-motor integration and abnormal forces throughout your kinetic chain. This will ultimately lead to “dumb muscles” because you are literally asking them to do things they neurologically don’t understand (7).
Since we know that low back pain is usually indicative of weakness in the lumbar multifidus and transverse abdominus (TVA) muscles, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to train these areas at the gym. Stand up to train, you can easily do this. Sit down, and guess what, nope. The seated environment will not work these muscles (8).
In a healthy individual, the TVA will be one of the first muscles to fire when you move. This supports the notion that if don’t get proper recruitment from the TVA, you can develop faulty motor programming. Your muscles may eventually not work in the optimal order, optimal relative timing or with the right force production needed for coordinated, efficient movement (8).
The muscles of the core pretty much have one job: dissipate gravitational forces, ground reaction forces and momentum. Meaning, your core keeps your spine and hips from getting hammered by gravity when you move. A seated machine does not allow this to happen because it is supporting you as you move. Anyone sensing a them here?
Since our bones are held together by passive tension in ligaments and by active contraction of the muscles surrounding our joints, it is extremely critical that our stabilizers work withthe prime movers to maintain an optimal relationship between the two bones. Sit down to train, you exponentially work prime movers (think beach muscles!) at a higher rate than your stabilizers (9).
Get your prime movers strong to the point where they over power the stabilizers, you move incorrectly and eventually get injured because you created faulty motor engrams. A fancy way of saying movement that happens without conscious thought.
The key to preventing this from happening is to focus your training on neuromuscular stabilization, core stabilization and eccentric training in the three planes of motion mentioned earlier.   If you want huge beach muscles, use machines. Want to maximize the way your brain gets your muscles to move your bones? Stand up to exercise (9).
This creates maximal motor unit recruitment, leading to a greater overall training response. Training in multiple planes of motion “elicits greater motor unit recruitment from agonists, synergists, stabilizers, and neutralizers (9).”
If you got down this far, wow, you are a very curious individual! You might even be asking yourself, what the hell did all of this gobbly gook mean? 
Stand up to exercise, you get stronger faster. Sit down to exercise, and you aren’t maximizing your time in the gym. Wow, about a zillion words to state those two sentences, but I’m all about under promising and over delivering so that’s what you get when I take the proverbial pen to paper!
Hopefully this will shed some light on why you should stand up to exercise and help you be a more informed consumer the next time you are the gym. If it doesn’t, well, read all three posts again until it does!!

References:

  1. “Movement that Matters,” Paul Chek
  2. “Get off the floor to work the core Part I,” Ben Cormack
  3. Get off the floor to work your core Part II,” Ben Cormack
  4.  “New Rules of Lifting,” Lou Shuler and Alwyn Cosgrove 
  5. “Pattern Overload, Part I,” Paul Chek, T-Nation.com 
  6. “Pattern Overload, Part II,” Paul Chek, T-Nation.com
  7. “Hamstring Machine Compensation,” Noah Hittner, PTontheNet.com Q
  8. “Get off your Rear!,” Stephanie Holt
  9. “Essentials of Integrated Training Part I,” Dr. Micheal Clark, DPT, MS, CES, PES

 

    Fitness Facts You Should Read 2/27/13

    I’ve been totally lagging lately on the blog, because I’ve been soooooooooooooper busy. So, today, you get some killer articles I’ve come across lately from people on all things training. I’ll have some original prose up soon!!


    Anatomy of a Workout, and Hour In the Gym A-Z Part II: The Workout

    In part one of this training trilogy, we got into the basic components of a warm up and the best ways to put them together. In part two, you’re going to get the routine I mentioned in the first installment.

    After you’ve warmed up for about 20:00 with your 5:00 of rolling out and 15:00 of prep movements, you’re locked and loaded and ready to roll! If you’re routine is getting a little stale, here is a workout I like to do from a functional training perspective.

    But before we go on, it needs to be mentioned that you should always get a doctor’s thumb’s up before you start any training program. If you’ve got joint pain, GET IT CHECKED OUT! You should ALWAYS get a thorough evaluation from a trusted strength coach or physical therapist to make sure you are getting the right exercises in your program.

    With that said, here we go with the functional routine!

    1. Body Weight Straight Leg Deadlifts
    Benefits: great work to the glutes, hamstrings, hip stabilizers, lats and spinal erectors.
    Reps: 15-20
    Sets 3-4
    Equipment Needed: people weight, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands/pulleys, Olympic bar

    2) Single Leg Standing Band or Cable Pulley Row
    Benefits: hits the hip stabilizers of the kickstand leg as well as the muscles of the core as it tries to give you a platform to pull. You can use two arms, one arm or an alternate arm movement pattern.
    Reps: 15-20 reps/leg
    Sets: 3-4
    Equipment Needed: Bands/Pulleys

    3) Pushups
    Benefits: hits the core the way a plank does, involves hip extensors, hits the chest/shoulders/triceps and lats if you “pull yourself” toward whatever it is your pressing against. I like pushups because they can easily be modified to meet any fitness level by elevating the hands to meet movement skill/strength.
    Equipment Needed: people weight

    4) Farmer’s Walks
    Benefits: almost too many to list. Lateral stabilizers of the trunk, gait pattern muscles, glutes, grip strength and lats if you fire them as you move.
    Reps: pick out about 20-30′ for your runway, grab the weights and start walking!
    Sets: 3-4
    Equipment Needed: kettlebells, dumbbelss, trap bar, Olympic plates

    Pretty, functional routine and seemingly pretty fundamental. While definitely true, you’d be surprised at how challenging some basic body weight and single limb movements can be! If you’d like more information on the best ways to put together a training program, post your comment below and get your questions answered!

    COMMON SENSE FINE PRINT
    ALWAYS consult your physician before trying new exercises. You should ALWAYS get a thorough evaluation from a trusted strength coach, physical therapist or doctor before trying any exercises mentioned in the Fitness411 blog. To do so without getting assessed is to do them at your own risk.

    Anatomy of a Workout, an hour of traning from A-Z Part 1: the Warm Up

    Every workout essentially the same components. You warm up, you workout, you cool down, you head off to start/finish your day.

    But what are you doing in this time? Are you making the most efficient use of the hour or so you have to train? If you aren’t you’re getting a plan to help make that easier!

    Before we get too far along, we need to know what workout phase you’re in? Mobility? Stability? Strength? Power? Power endurance? Corrective? Recovery? Depending on where you’re at, the anatomy of your workout could vary quite a bit.

    Here’s how I program for each phase. There are as many ways to do it as there are exercises to do, this is the way I’ve found to work really well.

    • Mobility: longer warm up with full range of motion work using total body exercises.
    • Stability: moderate with multiple single limb moves.
    • Strength: moderate to long because the loads are heavier
    • Power: relatively lengthy mirror the moves you will do in your workout
    • Power Endurance: moderate so you’ve got enough juice in the tank for the longer bouts of work
    • Corrective: your workout may be your warm up, meaning you will be using stability/mobility work to try and take out whatever imbalances you are trying to fix.

    Where to start?
    I like 5 mins of rolling out your hot spots to get going with the foam roller, stick, tennis or lacrosse ball, golf ball, Theracane, etc. Whatever allows you to get into the muscles and prepare them for work.

    From here, we get into the warm up. If you’re pressed for time, 5-7 mins of the Turkish Get Up using only body weight (or better yet a shoe, give it shot, it ain’t easy!). This exercise takes you through a ton of ranges of motion, and should do the trick to get you loose. I’m not a fan of stretching prior to training for a couple of reasons.

    One, by time you stretch the body out feet to fingers, you’re muscles have cooled down and you need to stretch again. Plus, I like to get people moving to get loose because I’ve found that it prepares them better to train. As far as treadmills go, you can, just know there may be more efficient ways to get warm.

    Exercises
    I like to start off with rolling patterns on the floor. These do quite a few things to get you loose. They are meant to create “segmental separation of the upper and lower body (Charlie Weingroff, “Rehab=Training, Training=Rehab”). This works really well to help with thoracic spine mobility where a lot of people are locked up.

    Next, I like to go to a combination of Planks + Cobras and Lunges stepping backwards + Lateral Lunges side to side. The planks will hit the hip extensors (glutes and hammies) in addition to the core and low back muscles. The cobras will open up the shoulders while hitting the low back erectors. Good combo of a “push/pull” movement.

    I like lunges after planks because the glutes have gotten a little work hopefully loosening the hip flexors and quads making the movement more effective. The lateral lunges are just a nice way to open up the hips in two more directions. I like 2-3 rounds of :40/exercise.

    From here, we’re heading to either band resisted glute bridges, lateral walks, split stance band presses and any corrective work you need to do. From here, its on to light to moderate Turkish Get Ups for 7-10 mins (depending on what the day’s programming has) to finish off the warm up.

    You can also use your first couple of laps of the day’s main lifts with light weight to get loose as well. This has been very successfully in the body building world, and it works well for us mere mortals as well. I haven’t done this in a pretty long time because of my incessant need to have as much variety as possible in my training. Probably not the best strategy, but half the battle of progressing is knowing what doesn’t work for you!

    Here are some other things you can do:

    • Stability ball bridges
    • Single leg squats
    • LIGHT overhead pressing
    • Rotation work with tubing/cable pulleys
    • TRX work
    • Diagonal chops/lifts with a med ball, dumbbell, rubber tubing and cable pulleys. This is another big bang for your buck move in terms of being time crunched.
    • Band resisted hip hinges
    • Light step ups

    At this point the nervous system has been primed several different ways and should be ready to train. You should be about 20 mins (5:00 rolling out + 15:00 of moving) in with a decent glisten going.

    Next up is whatever your program holds for the day. My preference is total body work hitting all of your push/pull, level change (squat/hip hinges/lunges/etc) muscles to make things as efficient as possible. I like a M/W/F schedule, but you can also do two days a week or a four day split routine. It all depends on what your focus is.

    In part two, I’ll give you a functional training routine you can do to fill in the time between your warm up and cool down.