Yes, lifting makes you feel strong and empowered. Yes, working out makes you healthier and helps you lose weight.
Yes, taking on new physical challenges can be fun and invigorating.
But the real reason most people workout is because they want to MOVE BETTER AND FEEL GOOD.
That is what HEALTH is. That is what YOUTH is.
And whether or not you recognize it as your motivation to workout, moving well and feeling better is the underlying goal of a diet and exercise program.
The question then is, “How do you develop workouts to help you move better and feel better?”
Too often these days I hear about people getting injured when training. About people feeling more worn out or broken down.
While it can be fun to do “brutal” workouts where you feel absolutely destroyed, this shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence.
If you want great results (be healthier, fitter, stronger), if you want to FEEL BETTER AND MOVE BETTER, you can’t just beat yourself down each and every workout.
Here are 5 tips to help you develop workouts that will make you move and feel better!
1. WARM UP – A good warm up consists of MORE than just walking or jogging on a treadmill or elliptical for five minutes. A good warm up is key to preventing injuries, which is key if you want to feel better and move better!
A proper warm up with loosen up overactive and tight muscles through foam rolling and dynamic stretches. It will also activate weak and/or inhibited muscles through activation exercises.
A proper warm up is important because it will make sure your body is truly ready to move so that you don’t get injured during your workout!!
Here are 15 great dynamic warm up moves.
Before you workout, you don’t need to stretch and roll out every area of your body. You just need to focus on the areas you will be using during the workout. You will also want to target areas that are perpetually tight or are prone to problems and injuries.
2. Build Up Slowly – Just because you CAN lift something or DO something, doesn’t mean your body is truly READY to do it. You’ve got to build slowly so that you don’t push your body too quickly and too far.
Injuries often occur when our body is forced to do something it isn’t mobile or strong enough to do.
If we build up slowly, making changes over time, we can prevent injury while getting great results!
Slowly build up and adjust your loads, speeds, intensity and repetitions. Don’t up everything all at once!
For example, if I have a new client who hasn’t really ever worked out before, I’m not going to have them doing jump squats on their first day (even if other people are doing jump squats). And maybe the client can technically do the jump squats.
But because the client has never done them and the client doesn’t even have much of a workout base, I’m not going to have them do jump squats.
I’m going to have them first start out with bodyweight squats. Then bodyweight squats quickly. Then bodyweight squats where they raise up onto their toes as they come back to standing.
Then I will finally have them perform a very VERY small jump off the ground. Then a bigger jump and finally a bigger, quicker jump.
They will BUILD UP SLOWLY because their body needs to learn the movement pattern and adjust to the load and explosiveness of the move.
An important part of working out isn’t just to do it…It is to do QUALITY movements!
Build up slowly and prevent undo stress being placed on your body which will lead to injury.
3. Work to Correct Imbalances – While my goal is to get everyone moving and having fun as quickly as possible, you can’t ignore the need to do all those supposedly boring corrective exercises.
Muscle imbalances lead to injury or may even be the result of an injury and can lead to further future problems.
Muscle imbalances usually mean that a muscle is doing work that it shouldn’t be doing because something is overactive, underactive, weak and/or tight.
Foam rolling, stretching and activation and strengthening exercises are all essential to correct the imbalances so that you can properly perform exercises during your workout and move better in everyday life.
When you start an exercise program, corrective exercises and stabilization exercises will make up the bulk of your workout.
However, even an advanced exerciser needs to do some corrective and stabilization exercises. Foam rolling, stretching and activation moves should be included in every warm up, especially if you have or have ever had an injury or imbalance.
And stabilization exercises are great for even elite athletes to do as recovery and to ensure that their movements are correct when they move onto some of their more demanding workouts.
Don’t wait to deal with your muscle imbalances until after you’ve become injured. Address the problem before serious symptoms arise!
4. RECOVERY – Your body can’t handle working out intensely ever single day. If you workout too much and too intensely, your body may be overtrained and you may stop seeing progress. Also, if you never cycle your workouts, you may find yourself plateauing because your body is no longer challenged by the workouts.
PROGRESSION is key. And a huge part of PROGRESSION, is proper RECOVERY.
Not only do you want to slowly build up and constantly challenge yourself by mixing up your workouts, but you also want to make sure that you cycle back through weeks of RECOVERY no matter your level.
Recovery is when our bodies rebuild. Recovery weeks though don’t have to mean that we completely take the week off.
Recovery workouts are a great time to do those exercises that help us prevent injury and correct any imbalances that may have developed during our intense training. Recovery weeks are also a great time do to injury prehab and to work on our weakness.
I also use recovery weeks as chances to improve my mind-body connection with exercises that require more stabilization and less load. The better the communication between our mind and body, the better our movements will be.
Also, if you’ve suffered an injury in the past, it is especially important to include exercises that really work on improving our mind-body connection since injuries can damage that connection. And a damaged mind-body connection can lead to further injury!
Recovery weeks are necessary to give our body a chance rebuild so that we don’t become injured. They are also a great chance to add in all those boring exercises that keep us moving well!
And recovery allows us to unwind…Be it a full week or just a day off. RELAXING is not only good for the body but also for the mind. Move better and FEEL BETTER.
Basically recovery is essential.
All of your hard work will be for nothing if you don’t take enough time for your body to rebuild. During our workouts we break down our body. When we RECOVER, we rebuild the damaged muscles. No recovery means perpetual breakdown.
Perpetual breakdown leads to feeling bad and injury!
Here is one of the types of recovery workouts that I do. It is all isometric holds, which is far from easy, but puts a different strain on the body. I also love doing workouts with single limb movements during recovery weeks.
5. Focus on Your Goals – Workout with a goal in mind.
When we workout with a goal in mind, we develop a program and a progression to get us there. When we workout with direction, we are more likely to do things that will help us move better.
We are more likely to include warm ups. To include recovery.
We are more likely to pick exercises with a purpose, not just because they are hard.
We are less likely to just throw together workouts with the hardest variables we can think of so that it will be BRUTAL.
Each exercise variable (how many exercises, types of exercises, reps, sets, rest, load, speed, intensity…) all can be manipulated to help us reach or goals.
We can’t just randomly throw them together. We must consider HOW they will HELP us reach our goals.
If your goal is to deadlift 500lbs, pick exercises and variables to match that.
Don’t waste time doing workouts with a bazillion burpees just because you know they will make you exhausted!
And on top of that, whatever your goal is, whether it is to be the best at your sport, lose weight or bench press four adult human beings, you first need to move well to accomplish it.
Therefore, when you focus on your goal, no matter what it is, you are going to work to move better!
Your plan to help you reach your goal is going to need to include all of the four other tips above even if that means not every workout you do will be so hard you have to lie on the ground completely exhausted.
Not every workout can be the hardest thing you’ve ever done!
Stop wasting your time being so focused on making every workout hard! Stop ignoring how important it is to move well!
I know lots of people have become obsessed with doing BRUTAL WORKOUTS and therefore skip the boring prehab stuff in favor of doing gnarly crap.
But I’m sorry…All that does is lead to injury.
While hard workouts are fun, working out is about more than being gnarly.
Start working out to move better and feel better!
You may find that once you start working out for those reasons, you may actually start hitting some of your other goals more easily (and feeling even better while you do it!).