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.
Walking seems boring to many fitness enthusiasts, but we make a case for trying it. Walking is the most foundational, most functional form of human movement — even more than squatting. The primary mode of human transportation, walking requires little brainpower and, in general, minimal effort for most people. It’s just natural. Because walking is so simple, so natural, so easy for most, you may wonder whether walking for exercise is worth your time. Most extreme fitness enthusiasts scoff at the thought, but walking is phenomenal exercise. In fact, most scientific studies on the benefits of exercise look at walking as a primary modality. But just how beneficial is walking, really? Let’s take a look. Benefits of Walking for Exercise Walking is great for days when you feel under the weather or too sore, but still want to move. When you walk for exercise, your body undergoes a number of changes. To name a few: Your cardiovascular health improves (your heart and lungs get stronger). Your cardiovascular and muscular endurance improve. You burn calories and might lose weight. In addition to those direct fitness benefits, walking also has a huge impact on your overall health. Walking can: Lower your blood sugar and blood pressure over time. Boost your mood and energy levels. Relieve stress, boost productivity, and spark creativity. Help you get more vitamin D. And if you think walking is too easy (as many fitness enthusiasts do), consider how low-intensity exercise can supplement your current routine. Walking is a great way to fill time on rest days. It’s also a great replacement for a workout when you feel extra tired or under the weather, but still want to get movement in. Walking is an especially phenomenal exercise choice for beginners who may not have proper running or weightlifting technique yet. It’s great cardio exercise for those with limited endurance and for busy people who don’t have time for an hour-long workout session or a commute to the gym. For older adults, walking provides a way to enjoy physical activity without excess stress on the joints. Walking may, in fact, be the most underrated form of exercise. How to Make Walking More Fun Make walking more challenging and fun by walking on rugged terrain or wearing a weighted backpack. Most hardcore gym-goers don’t exactly see walking as the most invigorating workout. Even when listening to your favorite tunes or an engrossing podcast, walking may feel dull and monotonous compared to what you do in the weight room or during group fitness classes. To make walking more fun and reap the benefits of low-intensity steady-state cardio, try these walking workout ideas: If you crave intensity, sprinkle a 30-second all-out sprint into your walk every five minutes. Set speed goals. Power walking is probably tougher than you think! For strength work, add 10 walking lunges every two to five minutes. Walk in a hilly or mountainous area. Add exercises at milestones. For instance, every half-mile you walk, do 10 push-ups and 20 air squats. Walk with a weighted vest or backpack. For more ways to work out at home, try World Gym Anywhere, our digital training platform with complete workouts from trainers like Gunnar Peterson.
You know you need to work out to stay healthy and fit. But do you know how hard you should work out? Many people think they need to work out at the highest intensity possible every day, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your weekly workout routine should contain a healthy mix of high-, moderate-, and low-intensity physical activity. Heart rate training is a valuable tool to help you hit all those different workout intensities. In our World Gym Athletics programming, we use heart rate training to ensure every athlete is getting the most out of their workout. Here is how you can start using rate training in your workouts. Why you should try heart rate training During World Gym Athletics workouts, your heart rate monitor allows you to stay within your optimal intensity range for the day. Heart rate training provides real-time feedback about how hard you’re working during exercise. This means you can adjust your workout intensity based on your goals for the given workout. That, in turn, means you can set and achieve specific, data-driven goals for each session. For example, if you want to go for a recovery run, wearing a heart rate monitor can prevent you from running too fast on your easy day. The same concept applies to high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, and other forms of exercise. How to start heart rate training Heart rate training is simple with a monitor like MyZone. Well, first you need a way to measure your heart rate. If you wear an Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, or other type of smartwatch, you already have a way to do so. Chest strap heart rate monitors, like MyZone, use electrocardiogram technology and tend to be more accurate than wrist-worn devices that use optical tracking, so if you want to get serious, go with one of those. Arm straps are another good choice, but they also use optical tracking. Once you have your device of choice, it’s time to put it to use. Heart rate training is all about beats per minute (BPM) and how close your BPM is to your max heart rate during any given workout. Heart rate training utilizes five heart rate zones, all of which correspond to a certain percentage of your max heart rate (MHR). Each zone elicits a different response from your body. The five heart rate zones Use these five zones to achieve a desired outcome from each workout: Very light effort: 50 to 59% MHR Light effort: 60 to 69% MHR Moderate effort: 70 to 79% MHR Hard effort: 80 to 89% MHR Very hard effort: 90 to 99% MHR Calculate your heart rate zones A World Gym Athletics coach can help you calculate your max heart rate. To find your heart rate zones, calculate your max heart rate. For World Gym Athletics, we use the Hunt Method: 211 – (your age x 0.64). For instance, if you’re 25 years old, you would multiply 25 x 0.64 to get 16, then subtract 16 from 211 to get 195. With 195 BPM as your max heart rate, your heart rate zones approximately come out to: Very light effort: 97 to 116 Light effort: 117 to 135 BPM Moderate effort: 136 to 154 BPM Hard effort: 155 BPM to 174 BPM Very hard effort: 175+ BPM As a caveat, the formula isn’t appropriate for everyone. Beginners may need to adjust their estimated MHR down. A World Gym Athletics coach can help you do this. Staying in an optimal heart rate zone during workouts ensures you don’t over-tax your body, but you push it when it’s time to get intense. To learn more, talk to a coach at your World Gym.