Here’s where I talk about the intricacies of building an exercise session. Let’s assume you are building your workouts for today. For strength.
Rules of the routine:
- Dynamic warmup- depending on the day, you want to make sure that you mobilize and prepare your body for the activities you are going to go through. For 90% of the folks I see, we hit a few basic exercises that promote stability through movement as well as a controlled, full range of motion and increasing muscular temperature. Mind you, when you are warming up, static stretching (holding a stretch for 30 seconds) is a no-go prior to exercise due to the acute effects of weakness during the strength workout.
- Biggest, most involved movements for strength. You want to start your strength session off with the biggest muscle groups first. A back squat is far more involved than a knee extension, so you’ll want to prioritize that movement (there are instances where it can be best to start with isolated movements, especially in individuals recovering from injury to facilitate a neuromuscular connection – fancy way of saying that these folks should be turning on the muscles that we’re supposed to be working. Injury and poor patterning will force a certain muscles to not take the force it normally should take – as your body is amazing and forcing other muscles to compensate when there is an injury or poor pattern mechanics). Big movements include Deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, pullups and other movements that are explosive and take a crap ton of full body effort.
- Narrow down your focus after the big muscle groups. Move to exercises that supplement the ‘big movements’. For a squat day, a rear foot elevated squat works wonders or a single leg deadlift. These movements still see a great amount of muscular activation but don’t put as much demand on your system as the primary strength movements. Movements like stiff legged deadlifts for hamstring and glutes, walking lunges and stepups after the primary movement. Hit 2-3 sets of movements that you know are a weakness.
- Isolation – After the narrowed down movements, here is where you get into muscle isolation. Strengthen your weak muscle groups. Target the stuff that has been weak for a while. After a couple ACL tears, my body has learned to really avoid a bunch of knee dominant stuff (as you can see from the size of my booty). In my case, I always make sure to burn the crap out of my quads – they are not the best in isolation and I really have had a hard time with them as the human body is amazing at avoiding pain. Pick two or three muscles and really get those guys going. Let it burn, baby.
- Cool down – Ease off it, yo. Take a breather. Static stretch. Hit the foam roller. Do things that you will thank yourself for later. There is nothing like having a cool down session on the foam roller after leg day. Truly the only thing that has ever helped me with that soreness post-workout.
So those are some rules I live by in the Chop shop. In short, warm up, big movements first followed by a more narrowed focus followed by isolation and a cool down.
And remember, strength has never been a weakness.