As stated in yesterday’s blog, I’ve just set up my new goals and fitness plans for the next 8 weeks. My personal trainer certification instructor and mentor Mike Rickett passed along some great advice to me for both my new routine and routines I develop for my clients: “keep it simple, stupid!”
My new routine is deceptively simple and requires only about 2.5-3 hours TOTAL per week in the gym. Instead of concentrating on each and every little tiny muscle and hitting it from 8 different angles, I’m doing full body workouts that use as many muscles as possible at once. Why spend more time in there if you don’t have to? Efficiency people, efficiency!
I target four muscle groups every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday…the same four muscle groups that you need to work out whether you’re trying to bulk up or cut off the fat. If you want to gain weight, you want exercises that use as many muscles as possible so when you rebuild you’ll rebuild more muscles and get bigger! If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to do exercises that will affect your entire body and stimulate as many of the muscles underneath as you can.
Chest – Most exercises that work your entire chest will also your shoulders and your triceps. This is a good thing. Exercises done with dumbbells will recruit even more muscles to help stabilize your arms as you raise them up and down. I start out my routine with a chest exercise; it can be regular bench press, dumbbell flys, incline dumbbell press, decline bench press, cable crossover, etc. Later on in the week I’ll go into more detail on these exercises, but I make sure to work my chest while also working my shoulders and triceps. Currently rocking some killer man boobs? Get rid of that fat by doing exercises that work your entire chest to burn the most fat on top of them.
Back – Your back is a big collection of a bunch of muscles. I love doing back exercises because a lot of other people hate them. My favorite exercise is probably wide grip pull ups for a number of reasons:
- Pull ups make you feel like a bad ass.
- Rocky does them in a training montage in Rocky IV, maybe the greatest cinematic masterpiece in the history of the world.
- A majority of the activities on Ninja Warrior require INCREDIBLE back and bicep strength, so I figure might as well train in case they call and say they need me.
- They’re freaking tough, and work every damn muscle in your back, biceps, and forearms.
Now, when you do pull ups (and any variation on them – wide grip, narrow grip, underhand, overhand, assisted, etc.) you’ll be using practically every muscle in your back along with your biceps. Two for one!
Quads – Squats. Do them. I avoided squats for years because I thought they were messing up my back. Wrong. The reason the Squats hurt were because I was both doing them wrong and I had very poor lower back strength. Squats work almost every freaking muscle in your body, which is why you need to be doing them. I love watching people in the gym doing “squats” and they go down about two inches and then stand back up. If you’re doing legitimate squats, your thighs should be parallel to the floor at the bottom, which won’t mess up your knees if you keep your butt way back, your back strong, and don’t extend your knees out over the front of your feet. Some other great quad exercises include lunges (boy I hate lunges) and one legged squats.
Hamstrings – Dead lifts – Another exercise I avoided because of my back when I finally realized that I needed to be doing them to build up my lower strength and really see some gains in size. If you do this exercise properly, you’ll see great gains in strength and size in your back and legs, because it works both of them. Also, by the time you’re lifting heavy weights, you’ll be recruiting your shoulders and arms to just hold onto the weight as you raise it and lower it! Now there are all kinds of variations on this that will work those hammies: Romanian dead lifts, straight leg dead lifts, one legged dead lifts, leg curls, etc.
That’s it. Simple enough, right? Instead of spending two hours a day doing eight exercises per muscle group, why not shock the hell out of each of them every time you get in the gym…and get it done in far less time. You might think it’s crazy to hit each of these muscle groups three times a week. Check back tomorrow for my current routine to show you how I use these principles to develop a routine that will promote muscle growth and get some cardio in there as well without over-exhausting my muscles.
I like these exercises because they are great for a full body workout that can be done anywhere and anytime by using just your own body weight.
- Four Best Exercises For A Full Body Workout
- 10 Agility Moves That Make Working Out Feel More Fun
- The Best Drills for Improving Balance and Agility
Four Best Exercises For A Full Body Workout
Plank: Tones the abs, chest, forearms, shoulders, and back. Photo credit: Richard Sibbald.
Plank: Tones the abs, chest, forearms, shoulders, and back
Starting in a push-up position, keeping your body weight on your hands and the balls of your feet, arms straight, wrists directly below your shoulders, keep your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. If you’re a beginner, instead of being on your hands, rest on your forearms, keeping your elbows directly below your shoulders. For more of a challenge, raise 1 leg off the floor for 30 seconds and then switch legs. Hold for as long as you can, working up to 1 minute, that’s 1 rep. Do 2 to 3 reps.
Push-up: Tones the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, hips, and back. Photo credit: Richard Sibbald.
Push-up: Tones the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, hips, and back
Start in the plank position, but place hands slightly wider than shoulders and body in a straight line. Bend elbows, keeping them close to your body, and lower your body to the floor, as far as you can go, and then push back up. Repeat as many as you can. If you’re a beginner, do the push up on your knees, keeping your body in a straight line from head to knees. For more of a challenge, lift 1 leg off the floor as you do each push-up.
Chair Dip: Tones your triceps and core muscles. Photo credit: Richard Sibbald.
Chair Dip: Tones your triceps and core muscles
Sit on the edge of a sturdy, stable chair, hands at your sides and firmly grip the edge of the chair. Legs together, place your feet flat on the floor in front of you so that when you slide your body off the chair your knees are above your ankles. Hold your abdominal muscles in and lower your body straight down, as far as you can, then push yourself back up. If you’re a beginner, place your feet closer to the chair, just bend your elbows slightly and hold your body up and away from the chair. For more of a challenge, place your feet further away from the chair and deepen your dip. Repeat as many times as you can.
Squat: Tones quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Photo credit: Richard Sibbald.
Squat: Tones quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your body weight on your heels, keep your back straight from your head to your tailbone, bend your knees and lower your body as low as you can go, slowly press through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you come back to your standing position. Do 3 reps of 20 squats.
If you are looking for a full body workout, you have come to the right place.
10 Agility Moves That Make Working Out Feel More Fun
You know the importance of weight training, cardio workouts, and stretching, but how often do you think about improving your agility? Agility is the ability to move quickly on your feet, and incorporating this kind of training into your workout routine can help improve your speed, strengthen your lower body, and reduce your risk of injury. Plus—like high-intensity interval training—it seriously ups your calorie burn, thanks to all the extra muscles it calls into play.
Another serious benefit: Agility training is fun. That’s probably why you see so many athletes and Instagram trainers—like Lita Lewis, a certified trainer and U by Kotex Fitness partner—posting their coordination work, using tools like cones and ladders, on social media. “I love agility training because it provides a healthy balance to my weight training,” Lewis says. “It’s functional movement that lets me move my body like a real athlete.”
Even if you’re not gunning to be the next Serena Williams or Abby Wambach, you can reap the rewards of agility training. “Agility ladder workouts are great for targeting the lower body, specifically fast-twitch muscles. You’ll develop strength and endurance in your hamstrings and hip flexors as well as improve joint flexibility,” Lewis says.
Here, Lewis pulls together 10 agility exercises for a circuit workout that will fire up your lower body, skyrocket your heart rate, and seriously make you sweat (that’s a good thing!). The best part? You’ll be able to check “work out” off your to-do list in under 45 minutes.
How to use this list: You’ll need an agility ladder (which you can find on Amazon for less than $15). Perform each move for 60 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds between moves. Once you finish all 10 exercises, rest for 2-3 minutes, then repeat the circuit two more times for a total of 3 sets.
1. Lateral Jumps With Agility Ladder
Stand to the left of the first square of the ladder, feet shoulder-width apart. Lower nearly into a squat, then drive through heels to pop off ground and jump into the ladder square diagonally in front of feet. Immediately pop off the ground again to jump to the right side of that ladder square. Continue moving forward quickly. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat.
2. Two Jumps Forward, One Jump Back
Stand in the first square of the ladder, feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent, torso hinging forward. Drive through heels to jump forward two ladder squares. Upon landing, immediately jump back one back. Continue moving forward two squares and back one. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat.
3. Squat Out / Hop In
Stand in the first square of the ladder, feet shoulder-width apart. Jump forward one square, spreading legs wide to land in a squat with one foot on each side of the ladder. Quickly jump to the next square, landing with both feet inside the ladder. Continue moving forward. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat.
4. Single-Leg Forward Hop
Stand in front of the ladder. Lift left foot off the ground then hop forward through the squares on the right foot. At the end of the ladder, run backward to the start and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch.
5. Lateral Lunges
Stand facing the right ladder rail. Jump into a lunge on your right leg, with the right foot in the first square and the left foot outside the ladder. Jump, switching legs in mid-air, so the left foot is in the square. Jump and switch legs again, this time jumping forward to the next square. Continue repeating. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat.
6. Side-Step Toe Touches
Stand inside the first ladder box, facing the left ladder rail, knees slightly bent. Jump right foot forward two squares, tap left toe to right ankle, then jump left leg back one square. Continue moving forward. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat. Do 30 seconds on one side, then switch directions to jump with left foot.
7. Skaters With Toe-Tap In Box
Stand to the left side of the ladder, facing away from the ladder. Jump right foot to the right, landing in a deep lunge and crossing left foot behind the right to tap the left toe into a ladder square. Jump left foot to the left and repeat. Continue alternating.
8. Plank Jacks
Start in a push-up position with hands inside ladder square. Jump feet wide, outside of the ladder, the back together. Walk hands forward into the next square and repeat. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat.
9. Wide to Narrow Push-Ups on Knees
Start in a push-up position on knees, hands on each side of the ladder. Lower chest to ground, then push back up to start and walk hands into the ladder square. Walk hands back out and repeat.
10. Quick Feet
Stand to the right of the ladder, knees slightly bent and torso hinged forward. Tap left foot into ladder square, then bring it to meet the right foot, taking a quick step forward with the right foot. Continue moving forward. At the end of the ladder, run to the start and repeat. Perform 30 seconds on one side, then switch directions to tap right foot into the ladder squares.
The Best Drills for Improving Balance and Agility
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When you think of a great athlete, what attributes come to mind?
Speed, strength, power? But what about balance?
Balance can make or break a game winning play—for example, if a running back has the speed and agility to make lightning fast cuts but can’t keep his balance when stopping on a dime and hitting a spin move to make a defender miss, then it means nothing.
Below are the best drills I have found for training balance and agility. We use them regularly with our athletes at Xceleration Fitness.
For each of the drills, set up five cones evenly spaced in a half circle. For correct spacing, stand in the center of the circle, then jump off your left foot as far to the right as you can. Set up the cone far enough away that you don’t land on it.
Half Moon Drill
- Starting in the center of the circle, jump off your right foot to the cone furthest to your left.
- Land on your left foot, then jump back with your right foot to the center of the circle.
- Repeat this jumping pattern as you move around the circle, landing at the various cones.
- Make sure to jump off the opposite foot when going to the right.
Half Moon Drill: Visual Number Call Out
- Go to the center of the circle and have a partner stand across from you outside the circle.
- Label the cones 1 to 5 from left to right.
- Stand in the center and jump back and forth in place.
- Have your partner hold up a random number of fingers, and jump to the corresponding cone.
- Return to the center, jumping in place, waiting for your partner to indicate the next choice.
Half Moon Drill: Verbal Number Call Out
- Again go to center of the circle and have a partner stand across from you outside the circle.
- Stand in the center and jump back and forth in place.
- Have your partner call out numbers verbally and jump to the corresponding cones.
Half Moon Drill: Verbal Number Call Out with Ball Toss
- Set up the same as the previous versions, but this time your partner needs a lacrosse ball or baseball.
- Have your partner call out the number, and as you jump to the corresponding cone, your partner simultaneously tosses you the ball.
- Catch the ball as you land and return the ball, then jump back to the center.
There you have it. Check out the above video for a demonstration and give these drills a shot.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock