Tag: full-body strength training

Returning to the Gym? Move Slowly and Be Patient!

Prior to the pandemic, my strength training plan in the gym was to lift heavy things to build overall strength that I could tap for on-the-bike endurance. 

I was deadlifting with a hex bar, using dumbbells for shoulder, back, and chest work, and doing a lot of kettlebell work, especially swings. 

And I was seeing results: I was able to power up hills more easily, and I had more endurance. 

When our gym closed, my strength training plan was to use bodyweight work might work to continue my strength work. 

Your strength training plan when you return to the gym should focus on easier weights, limited intensity, and what you've done in the past.
Take your time in your return to the gym. Follow the three keys to keep yourself safe and feeling good!

Three Keys for Return to the Gym Strength Training Plan

Here are the keys for a successful strength training plan to return to the gym:

1. Decide for yourself how active you’ve been since not going to the gym. Whether you kept up your strength training or just stopped will determine the frequency and intensity of your return workouts. 

2. Start with fairly easy weights. Build slowly. For example, if you were doing 150 lb squats, start with the barbell, then keep adding light weight as you get to around 15 reps. 

3. For the first three weeks, keep the intensity mild to moderate. Keep more in the tank than you would normally to avoid muscle soreness the next day. Remember, if you’re so sore the next day, you reach for ibuprofen, you went too deep. Your body will take longer to recover.

Restrain Yourself!

So, of course, I had to really restrain my strength training plan when I was able to get back to the gym. 

I knew that if I tried to go back to pre-pandemic weights, I would be unable to walk the next day! 

I’m doing squats with a safety bar, which is slightly different than a regular barbell bar. 

Depending on your gym, there will be different restrictions on returning. Some gyms may require reservations, some may require masks, and others are open for regular business. 

Regardless of status, please make sure you are wiping down your equipment before you use it, and after you’re done, just to keep you and others safe during the pandemic. 

Did You Workout During Quarantine?

How often and how intense you should work out in your return depends on how active you were during the pandemic.

The key is to start with lighter than usual weight and work out with less than usual intensity. 

Start with a weight that’s fairly light. If you get to an easy 13-15 reps without difficulty, increase the weight

If you gave up and did little, your return needs to be slow and gradual. Start with two easy days of strength training with light weights. 

If you were working out regularly, with strength training and regular endurance work, you’ll be able to jump into your strength training plan a little more quickly.

Try three days a week, still with light to moderate weights and intensity. 

There’s No Rush to Return to the Gym

There’s no rush to get back to your previous strength training plan. 

You can’t speed up your body’s adaptation to training stress.

You can, though, stress your body too much, resulting in a lower immunity and really sore muscles.

Build up your intensity, frequency, and weight slowly and steadily .

Want to get some ideas about how to start? Need to know more about what exercises to do? 

Got questions? We have answers! Contact us here. 

For anyone, it can be bewildering to walk into a gym not knowing exactly what you’re going to do to get a solid full-body workout.

Full-body strength training at least once a week will help build a stronger foundation for the work you’re asking your body to do.

If you are an endurance athlete, or want to become one, strength training helps you run or ride faster, with more endurance, and more power. But what do you do, and how do you fit it in to your regular training?

So if you want to develop strength and build muscle for your sport, the six movements of full-body strength training are an easy and effective structure for your workout. 

The six movements, which I’ve adapted from Menachim Brodie’s work on strength training, can be done with a variety of exercises, depending on your experience and comfort with free weights. Plus you can alternate the movements to maximize your efficiency in the gym. 

So full-body strength training for endurance sports does not need to mean long hours in the gym. 

Full-body strength training can be done using six movements: chest press and pull, shoulder press and pull, hip hinge, and squat.
Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

The Six Movements

The six movements are:

  • Chest Push – to develop chest and arm strength
  • Chest Pull – to develop back and arm strength
  • 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. 

I’ve seen some trainers alternate with Push and Pull days. That’s fine if you want to spend more time in the gym. But if your goals is to build strength for endurance sport, the more time you can spend on your sport, the better.

One Movement Might be Several Exercises

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. 

As long as you do at least one exercise for each of these movements, you’ll get a full body strength workout. 

Full-body strength training can be done using six movements: chest press and pull, shoulder press and pull, hip hinge, and squat.
Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Less Stable Equals More Strength

And the less stable the exercise, the more of your body will have to work. 

For example, if you do a one-arm dumbbell chest press, that exercise utilizes not only your chest and arm, but the whole side to keep you from rolling off the bench! The dumbbell is very unstable, and you have to use more stabilizer muscles to keep the dumbbell stable. 

Alternatively, if you do a machine chest press, you primarily use just your chest and arm muscles in isolation. Those stabilizer muscles aren’t as required. 

That said, sometimes you just want to focus on one body part, or you have limitations that require more stability.

So if possible, I recommend using dumbbells, barbells, TRX, and/or kettlebells for the majority of your work.

Full-body strength training can be done using six movements: chest press and pull, shoulder press and pull, hip hinge, and squat.
Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

What to Consider for Full-Body Strength Training

Here are some more ideas to consider for your full-body endurance sport 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!
  • 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. For example, you can do a traditional squat, Bulgarian split squat, and pistol squats with the TRX to really fatigue your legs and hips. 
  • The older you are, the longer it takes to recover from strength work. I’ve been doing an interval session on the bike in the morning, then strength training in the evening on two days a week, giving myself a full two days of recovery.
  • Doing a negative, or slowly releasing the lift, is a solid way to fatigue the muscles.

If you are a member of the Wisconsin Athletic Club, come in to the Greenfield gym, and we’ll go through some examples of this routine. 

Here’s the form I’m using with WAC clients: 

If you have questions or comments, want to meet at the WAC, or want to create some training plans, email me at pwarloski at gmail dot com or text at 262.705.4892. 

Thanks for reading!