Yoga has so many benefits for runners and cyclists. Yoga for recovery is a great tool for creating some movement to counter tight hip flexors, shoulders, and neck. Yoga is great for building strength and mobility. We spend a lot of time moving forward in one plane. Yoga strengthens twisting and lateral muscles and movement. […]
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Knowing what to do at the gym makes you far more likely to reach your fitness goals
Not knowing what to do at the gym to get a solid full-body workout can be bewildering and overwhelming.
And that can lead you to skip the gym altogether.
Full-body strength training three days a week will help build a strong foundation, help you manage your weight, increase metabolism, and increase mobility.
But what do you do, and how do you fit it in to a schedule?
Here are five ways to know what to do at the gym when you want to strength train.
1. Take complementary classes at your gym
Most gyms, including the Wisconsin Athletic Club, offer a ton of classes that are free. In particular, strength classes are great ways to begin to understand how to structure a workout. Once you attend a few classes, you can repeat many of the same moves on the gym floor. Ask the instructor if they have a list of the workouts!
2. Take advanced classes
Most gyms also have paid classes that are more specialized, but if you look at them as personal training, the cost is less than $10 a class! The class can be more challenging than a complimentary class, but you can always work at your own pace. Again, you can learn moves and exercises from these classes that you can repeat on the gym floor.
3. Work with a personal trainer
You can tell a trainer that you want to develop a plan you can do on your own. Then you can work together to create a plan that works for your needs. I often work with people once a week, and they repeat our workout when they return to the gym on other days.
With Simple Endurance Coaching, we’ll help you create a strength training program that is specific to your endurance sport. Almost all endurance sports, for example, benefit from lunges and split squats.
4. Do a machine circuit
Each strength training machine works a different body part. And most gyms set up its machines so you can do a circuit. If you do all of the Technogym, Technogym cables, or Hoist machines, for example, you’ll get a solid workout. However, I would advise you to not use the stomach crunch machine. Crunches have been shown to shorten the rectus abdominis muscles, which, in turn, pull us forward and hunch our shoulders. We spend enough of our lives hunched over computers, stoves, and desks. We don’t need to make it worse.
Shoulder Push – to develop shoulder, arm, and upper body strength
Shoulder Pull – to develop shoulder, arm, back strength
Hinge – deadlift-type movements that strengthen glutes, hamstrings, hip stabilizers, and lower back.
Squat – to develop leg, hip, and back strength.
You can always add additional exercises to this routine, but if you use these six movements as the structure of your workouts, you’ll make sure your full body gets stronger.
With this structure, you have the option of using many different exercises for one movement. For example, a chest push might be a bench press, dumbbell press, dumbbell flies, seated cable press, machine chest press, or TRX bands. And a chest pull might be seated rows, cable rows, bent over rows, reverse push up on barbell, etc.
Unstable Weights Build More Functional Strength
If possible, I recommend using dumbbells, barbells, TRX, and/or kettlebells for the majority of your work because they are more unstable than machines. An unstable weight requires you to use more stabilizer and core muscles to support the effort, and that means a more full-body workout.
Here are some more ideas to consider what to do at the gym for your full-body strength training workout:
You can alternate movements, such as hinge and chest pull, to create “supersets” and maximize your time in the gym. Avoid doing the shoulder pull and press at the same time, though!
Start with three sets of 12 repetitions if you are just getting started. Your muscles need time to adapt to the new work required of them.
Once you have worked for four or so weeks, you can do 5 to 8 repetitions of each exercise for 3 to 5 sets each. If you get to 8 repetitions, move up in weight. This is strength training, so you should be doing some heavy weights!
The goal is to fatigue the muscles, not jack up your heart rate. So if you’re breathing hard after a set, take a few moments to let the HR come back down.
You can do multiple exercises for the same movement to really fatigue particular muscles. For example, you can do a traditional squat, Bulgarian split squat, and pistol squats with the TRX. Doing a negative, or slowly releasing the lift, is a solid way to fatigue the muscles.
At Simple Endurance Coaching, we create strength-training and work out plans that help you meet your fitness goals. Plus when you have a coach, you are more likely to stay motivated and committed.