I work as a personal trainer in a public gym. The majority of my clients are women in their 40’s who need to lose (by their own admission) 15-40 pounds.
In my experience, the best way to do that is to perform whole body, compound exercises at an intensity that elevates your heart rate for the better part of your 45 minute workout. (In addition to eating clean, of course).
The workouts that I prescribe typically include four functional movements; squats, lunges, pushes and pulls. Each of these types of movements target multiple muscle groups and hence, won’t increase the size of your biceps or triceps or tighten your inner thighs exclusively.
Curls and triceps extensions and calf raises? Vanity moves. Exercises that can improve the look of a single muscle group, but only once the layer of subcutaneous fat that covers them is burned off!
Am I suggesting that you shouldn’t perform vanity exercises? Absolutely not! I love vanity moves too!
Instead, I suggest that you place them at the end of your program, once the heavy, metabolic, fat-burning lifting is done! Think of bicep curls as a reward for completing your squats and lunges! Tricep extensions as the dessert to your meal of pushups and bent over rows. Hamstring curls on the ball as a rest for your arms and back after finishing your third set of pull ups!
Below is my ‘Functional Four’ workout.
Complete 10-12 repetitions of each exercises using the heaviest weight (or most challenging progression) you can. Then move immediately to the next exercise, cycling through the entire workout 3 or 4 times. Your heart rate should remain elevated throughout; don’t rest until you’re done! Options are given for beginners, intermediate and advanced exercisers.
And no, I didn’t forget about your abs! Almost all of the above exercises require you to work your core in a functional manner. Stabilization and mobilization while other parts of your body are moving.
If you want to increase the challenge of the above workout to your core you can (1) offload the weight during a given exercise (e.g., offset load squat, change the pushup into a T-pushup) and (2) use a stability tool in place of either the floor (e.g., lunge with foot on Bosu) or a bench (e.g., chest press with head and shoulders supported on a stability ball)
Once you’ve finished the heavy work you can indulge in a vanity move or two. One of my favourites in a hamstring curl on the ball.
Check out today’s Tuesday Trainer for some other great vanity moves.
Do you include the functional four in your workouts?
What’s your favourite vanity move?
Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.