A good warmup always precedes a good workout. Whether you like it or not, getting warm is a key part of improving your strength, mobility, and overall fitness. This complete warm-up routine only takes five minutes — that’s all you need to drastically improve your workout. Related: How many reps will build muscle? Warmup Format Flow through 10 reps of each of the following warm-up movements. Complete two to four rounds, or until you feel ready to attack the weights. Cat-Cow Pose Also known as: spinal flexion/extension Cat-cow pose is a great starting place for any warmup, as it helps to loosen up your neck, back, chest, and shoulders. How to do cat-cow pose: Start on all fours on the ground. Stack your shoulders, elbows, and wrists so your arms make a straight line perpendicular to the ground. Stack your hips over your knees to make your thighs perpendicular to the ground. Engage your core and find your neutral spine position. Inhale and round your spine, tucking your chin and pressing your palms into the ground. Once you reach your end range of motion in cat pose, exhale and begin to arch your back. Lift your chest and chin high, keeping your palms pressed into the ground. When you reach your end range of motion, return to your neutral position and reset for another rep. Bootstrappers Also known as: squat-to-stand mobility Bootstrappers should be a go-to warm-up movement for anyone who struggles with hip or spinal mobility in the squat. In addition to priming the squat position, bootstrappers prepare you to engage your core for weighted movements. How to do bootstrappers: Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend down to touch your toes. Keep your spine as neutral as possible (don’t round) and clasp your fingers around the toe box of your shoe. Hang out in this position for a second. Still holding onto your toes, slowly lower yourself into a squat. Bring the crown of your head to the sky and look forward. Hold this bottom position for a few seconds. Maintain the hold on your toes and send your hips upward so you return to a forward fold. Downward Dog to Cobra Also known as: divers Downward dog to cobra combines two classic yoga movements that prime and prep your shoulders, as well as mobilize your upper spine and ankles. How to do downward dog to cobra: Start in the downward dog position. Your body should make a triangular shape with the ground. Bend your elbows to slowly lower your head to the ground. Just before your head touches the ground, extend your arms and push your torso up. Finish with your back arched, arms fully extended, and chest high. To get back into downward dog, straighten your spine, send your hips upward, and press your head through the window of your arms. Cossack Squats Also known as: deep side lunges For those looking to maximize hip and ankle mobility, cossack squats are a must-have in any warm-up routine. cossack squats also build your single-leg strength and prepare your knees for the stress of a loaded movement. How to do cossack squats: Start by standing with a wide stance, as if you were preparing to perform a sumo deadlift. Keep your toes forward or pointed out just slightly. Lower to one side, dropping into the squat as deeply as you can, breaking the parallel plane if possible. As you descend, keep the foot of your working leg planted firmly, but raise onto the heel of your non-working foot. The toes of your non-working foot should point to the sky. Pause and then push back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg. Forward Fold With Spinal Rotation Also known as: folded windmill Forward folds alone are great for improving flexibility but adding a spinal rotation into the mix is better for improving mobility (yes, there’s a difference). How to do forward folds with spinal rotations: Stand with your feet together. Hinge at the hips and reach down to touch your toes, or as far down your leg as you can. It’s fine to grab your calves or ankles. Anchor your hands beneath your toes or around your legs. Take a deep breath. Exhale as you lift your right hand to the sky, following it with your gaze. Twist until you feel slight tension in your spine, keeping your left hand anchored to your body. Inhale when you reach your end range of motion. Then, exhale and bring your right hand back to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
Find out if full-body or split workouts are best. Weights vs. cardio. Carbs vs. keto. Volume vs. load. There’s no shortage of controversy in the fitness industry, and one of the biggest ongoing debates is whether a full-body or split workout plan brings the most gains. A full-body workout involves exercising your entire body and stimulating overload in all muscle groups within one workout. Examples: A one-minute on, 30-seconds off circuit workout wherein each minute of work targets a different muscle group, or a strength workout consisting of full-body compound movements, such as thrusters (squat and overhead press). A split workout, on the other hand, involves isolating muscle groups and movement patterns. For example, you might work out your back and biceps on one day and your lower posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes and calves) on another day. The thought process behind split workouts is that isolating muscle groups allows you to target them more intensely and induce more muscle growth, but it doesn’t always work out that way in real life. Here’s why. Benefits of full-body workout plans Tire flips are a great full-body workout. Most people will see more success with full-body workout plans simply because most people don’t have five to eight hours to work out each week. Take a gander at some of the benefits of full-body workouts: They’re efficient. You can burn more calories in less time. They’re highly effective. You practice major movement patterns and work your largest muscles. They’re quick. You generally don’t need to spend much time in rest intervals. They’re functional. You’re kind of forced to focus on compound movements (like squats) because of the time factor and, let’s face it, there are few real-life opportunities that involve triceps cable push-downs anyway. They’re forgiving. If you miss a workout, it’s no biggie, because you’re not neglecting an entire muscle group by missing that workout. Benefits of split workout plans Isolation exercises have unique benefits compared to full-body exercises. A select few will see tremendous success with split workout routines. These people tend to have their fitness very dialed in and can commit to a plan, reducing their risk of neglecting muscle groups by missing split workouts. Here are some benefits of split workout plans for those who can stick to them: They’re customizable. You can fine-tune your workouts to concentrate your efforts and strengthen any weaknesses. They’re specific. If you have a specific strength goal, you can tailor a split workout routine to help you meet that goal. For example, if you want to master the single-leg squat, you can spend more time doing unilateral leg strength exercises. They’re very adjustable. If you get injured, you can still follow a split workout routine. Simply adjust it to avoid aggravating your injury. They’re structured. If you thrive with structure and routine, you’ll thrive with a split workout plan. They’re (also) effective. Split workout routines are highly effective for building mass and improving body composition. Should you do a full-body or split workout routine? The best workout plan for you depends on how much time you have (and your goals). You’re probably tired of hearing this, but… It depends. For the vast majority of people, full-body workout routines provide the most benefits and the best results because most people simply don’t have the time to fully commit to a split workout routine. A full-body workout plan ensures you exercise all of the important movement patterns and muscle groups, even if you only have two or three 30-minute workouts each week. Conversely, to reap the benefits of a split workout plan, you need to dedicate several hours each week to working out—and avoid missing workouts or adjusting your routine when you do. Need help deciding which type of workout routine is best for you? Stop by your local World Gym to see how a personal trainer can help. References/Links for More Information A Comparison Between Total Body and Split Routine Resistance Training Programs in Trained Men Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men The effects of two equal-volume training protocols upon strength, body composition and salivary hormones in male rugby union players Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Resistance Training on Whole-Body Muscle Growth in Healthy Adult Males
After a long road trip, your car engine takes a while to cool off, right? Your body is the same way: After a workout, it doesn’t immediately return to its resting state. It takes a while to cool down and restore homeostasis. During this cool-down period, your body continues to consume extra oxygen and burn calories even after you stop moving. This is called the afterburn effect, and taking advantage of it could help you make the most of your workouts. Understanding the afterburn Just like a car engine, your body needs time to cool off after a lot of work. “Afterburn” is a buzzword for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC). This phenomenon earned its buzzy name because “afterburn” accurately describes what happens in your body after an intense workout. The demands of a workout spur your metabolism to increase in order to produce more energy, which requires increased oxygen consumption and chemical reactions, among other things. When you finish working out, your body’s engine is still revving — now that the work is done, the recovery process begins. To recover, your body continues to consume a lot of oxygen. The excess oxygen you’re consuming helps your body restore blood oxygen levels, replenish muscle glycogen stores, begin the muscle repair process, and bring your body temperature back down to a normal level. All of these goings-on require energy, meaning your body must burn calories to facilitate these recovery processes. Certain types of workouts can keep your body in that post-exercise heightened state for a longer period of time, which can contribute to greater calorie burn after your workout. How to keep burning calories after your workout Follow four simple rules to get the best afterburn. Now you know what the afterburn effect is, but the real question is: How do you actually generate EPOC? All workouts have four main components: Intensity: How hard are you working? Duration: How long is your workout? Structure: Are you doing a steady-state workout or intervals with rest periods? Modality: Are you doing cardio, strength training, or something else? Research shows that the greatest afterburn occurs when: You work out at higher intensities — at least 75 percent of your VO2 max, or about an eight on the Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. You exercise for at least 30 minutes. You do short bouts of exercise (intervals) instead of steady-state exercise. You lift heavy weights or perform weighted or explosive cardio circuits (like our World Gym Athletics workouts). Another factor to consider is novelty. The human body adapts and becomes efficient at performing the tasks it’s used to, so it’s important to add new movements to your routine. This forces your body to perform tasks it isn’t used to, thus work harder, and contribute to a greater afterburn effect. Impact of the afterburn effect The afterburn effect is small but cumulative. Work hard and keep burning extra calories after your workout. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, like most things in fitness, the effects of EPOC have been exaggerated and over-glamorized. EPOC exists, sure, but the impact isn’t as great as most people think. For starters, the level of intensity needed to generate an impactful afterburn is high. That level of intensity hurts, and most people don’t care to work out that hard more than once or twice a week (or at all). Even at a high intensity level, most research shows that EPOC burns less than 100 extra calories per workout. Still, 100 extra calories after four or five workouts per week adds up — an extra 400 or 500 calories burned per week can definitely help you lose weight and get leaner. It really comes down to this: How many grueling workouts are you willing to do each week? To learn more about the most effective types of workouts, talk to a personal trainer at your World Gym. References Comparison of energy expenditure elevations after submaximal and supramaximal running Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption High- and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption in men with metabolic syndrome Six Weeks of Moderate Functional Resistance Training Increases Basal Metabolic Rate in Sedentary Adult Women Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption Misconceptions about Aerobic and Anaerobic Energy Expenditure Intensity of resistance exercise determines adipokine and resting energy expenditure responses in overweight elderly individuals
You want to get stronger, faster, more skilled. You see lean and athletic people doing all sorts of crazy moves on Instagram, so you think that must be what it takes. You cherry-pick your favorites and do them in random succession. You have good intentions, but you also have shiny object syndrome. The key to fitness isn’t slapping together every exercise in existence. It’s not about mastering the most complex movements you see on Instagram. In actuality, getting fit is really quite simple — it’s all about this one concept called “periodization.” Why everyone should follow a periodized training plan It’s important to strike a balance between fun and intentional. To understand the benefits of periodization, it’s helpful to know the guiding concepts behind periodized training: Purpose and intent: Random exercise yields random results. Unless you truly don’t care about what you get from your efforts in the gym, you shouldn’t be cutting, pasting, and slapping random movements together. That’s a good way to end up frustrated or injured. Periodized training is intentional. Every workout has a purpose. This element is key — without purpose and intent, your goals play keep-away. When you prioritize periodization, you hop on the fast-track to your goals. Progressive overload: The human body adapts. It’s designed to do so because that’s survival physiology. However, adaptation is a double-edged sword when it comes to fitness. Adaptation allows us to get stronger and faster, but it also leads the body to become more efficient. And in fitness, we want to bust through efficiency plateaus. Doing the same thing over and over again leads to efficiency, thus plateaus. The principle of progressive overload stipulates that the body needs constant challenges and changes to continue adapting (AKA, getting fitter). So, why should you follow a periodized training plan? Because that’s the only way you’ll see continual and significant improvements to your fitness. Periodization in World Gym Athletics The new World Gym Athletics programming focuses on functional movement and progression. World Gym Athletics, our flagship performance-focused workout program, follows a scientifically-backed periodization structure complete with block periodization and linear periodization. The Plan The all-new World Gym Athletics periodized programming breaks up a one-year macrocycle into three phases of 16 weeks (four months). Each 16-week phase is then broken into smaller chunks to keep the focus tight and the workouts intentional. No matter what your training status is, World Gym Athletics coaches can modify and scale workouts to suit your needs. The same goes for athletes who think this might be too easy — promise, we can make it tough. Every World Gym location will implement this new periodized training, so no matter where life takes you, you can keep trucking along toward your fitness goals. And don’t worry about missing a day: This program is designed so that missing a workout here and there isn’t detrimental to your progress. The Phases Prepare: This is where you’ll ease into your new programming. The focus is on biomechanics and moving through full ranges of motion without pain. In this phase, you’ll master important positions such as the squat, hip hinge, and overhead extension before increasing loads. Progress: This is where you grow and improve. The emphasis lies on building strength, improving skills, and increasing endurance to prepare you for phase three. Perform: This is all about reaching your peak. Phase three readies you to perform things you may have previously only dreamed of. Athletes who complete the full cycle will be able to participate in strenuous activities like obstacle course races, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, endurance events, and more without pain or injury. The Workouts Down to the nitty-gritty: Workouts are the meat of the program and what you’ll focus on day to day. Each workout advances our goal of equipping every athlete with the perfect blend of performance and sustainability. We accomplish this by incorporating elements of high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, endurance, mobility, and functional training across the week. Each workout begins and concludes with a discussion, so all athletes leave feeling informed and confident about the program. Feel like the new-and-improved World Gym Athletics is for you? Talk to a trainer or staff member at your World Gym.