There are so many ways to structure your workouts these days and variety is definitely key to keeping things interesting. Having a specific guide can ensure you are getting the most from your workouts. There are a few fundamental moves that should form the basis of your workout and can help you when planning what to do rather than simply trying to put some exercises together. This foundation will allow you to progress further as it covers the main body movements that most other exercises will require development in.
The fundamentals for your workout plan:
An activity we do daily without even realising! So learning how to squat properly, or developing greater strength in your squat is an absolute must for me. This encourages correct hip, knee and ankle alignment which is so essential to preventing injuries from other exercises. A basic squat holding a dumbbell or kettlebell for some added weight is the easiest version, or you could progress to single leg squats, either on their own or as a squat down to the sofa/bench and back up again. This provides a little comfort as you have that seat to control the depth.
This is such an important movement to master to ensure good body mechanics, correct use of your glutes and core to support you, and protect your back for a lifetime! My main hinge exercise for gym based workouts would be the romanian deadlift, and from a Pilates perspective, the shoulder bridge.
Pushing movements require adequate upper body strength, shoulder stability, core tension, and general all round bodyweight strength. This will be appropriate for any activity that requires you to “push”. The traditional, and still my favourite gym-based exercise would be the push up. There is always a progression without the need for weights, unlike most other “push-based exercises”. These can be varied to knee push ups or full push ups on toes, super slow push ups, or push ups with a leg raise. From a Pilates point, I would have to favour the “Leg pull in prone” or as I commonly refer to them, the “Hovers”.
Pull exercises strongly rely on back strength, the posterior chain of our body. This can often be the weakest region due to many sedentary based jobs, computer work, or in fact just the basis that most daily activities involve working in front of you rather than extending backwards. My gym-based exercises here would be the bent over row for a powerful and functional choice and my Pilates choice would be breaststroke preparations for the scapular stability and specific strength work.
As a Pilates teacher you probably already know where I stand on core work! But seriously, I truly believe it is the foundation to our workouts, to optimising our body’s general function. Having the core strength to support your trunk and beyond this to supporting arm and leg movements provides the tension for a stronger movement and better outcome. Core work develops those deeper muscles required for stability and control to therefore allow you to push further on the above exercises. My main gym based core exercise would be plank variations; knee plank to toe plank, or plank with hip dips or leg raises. My Pilates core go-to would be the double leg stretch for the greatest length and tensile strength.
- More specific exercises
This is where everything else that does not fit in the above categories goes. For example if you want lateral hip stability, a difficult yoga pose, isolated triceps strength etc. These exercises are often our end result and where we want to spend the majority of our time in the hope that practise makes perfect right? However, you need to build that support network throughout your body so that you can achieve these much more specific and individual goals.
Your quick cheat sheet workout based on the above! Complete all the No.1 exercises for a more gym-based style workout. Complete all the No. 2 exercises for a more Pilates-based workout. And on the third day pick and choose to mix them up!
- Squat– 1) Kettlebell goblet squat 2) Single leg squat to bench
- Hinge- 1) Romanian deadlift 2) Bridge
- Push- 1) Push ups 2) Hovers (leg pull in prone)
- Pull- 1) Bent over row 2) Breaststroke preparations
- Core- 1) Plank with leg raise.2) Double leg stretch
- Specifics (These are yours to pick based upon your goals remember, but here are a couple suggestions) 1) Shoulder lateral raises to develop upper arm definition 2) Pilates Teaser exercise for the ultimate sequential core strength move. This may also include handstand practises, a forward roll for martial arts or a golf swing.