How To Begin A Workout + Key Workout Tips!
So you want to start working out? It's not a bad idea, but if you're new to lifting and training, it can be overwhelming. In this blog, I’m going to guide you and show you how to plan your workout so that every session is productive and efficient. We'll go over each component of a good workout and what exercises work best for each component. By the end of this article, you'll have all the knowledge you need to start building muscle with fewer injuries and faster results than most people experience when they begin working out.
Tools and Technology
A few tools you’ll need to get started:
A few apps you’ll need to download:
Step 1. Begin with foam rolling.
Foam rolling is a great way to release fascial tension and restrictions, as well as alleviate tight muscles and improve blood flow. It's also one of the most effective ways to relieve post-exercise soreness (a.k.a. DOMS).
How long you roll will vary depending on what part of your body you're working out that day, but you’re looking for pain and tension to subside. The objectives are to get the nerve to release and flush lactic acid and toxins.
Comforting insight: prepare to feel awkward.
Being on a foam roller is like putting on a pair of roller skates for the first time. It’s awkward. The more time you spend on it, the more comfortable you will become.
How to use it: In a word, exploratory.
You are searching for tension within the body. As you begin to foam roll different areas of your fascia, your body will talk to you. You will feel something that hurts or feels dense. You’ve heard the phrase “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”? Well, that wisdom is applied here. The areas that need more time will be a bit more tender and dense.
Just like anything else in life, you may spend more time than needed in the beginning because you’re getting used to it, but in time you will be able to foam roll effectively and efficiently.
However, for time's sake, give yourself 10-15 minutes to foam roll.
Follow me here on Instagram for video tutorials.
Step 2. Do some guided breathing using the iBreathe app.
Breathing is so much more than just the exchange of gas. Done well, it creates segmental stability at the spine and regulates your fight or flight nervous system.
In the iBreathe app, set a custom cycle with a 1:2 ratio of inhale to exhale, with a 1 - 2 second pause between.
2 second inhale 3 second inhale
1 second pause OR 2 second pause
4 second exhale 6 second exhale
1 second pause 2 second pause
10 cycles is plenty to get you started.
This should be done lying down on your back with your legs draped over the couch and a small pillow under your head.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.
Step 3. Warm-up
Warming up has taken on a lot of meaning over the years. Warm-up is the elevation of your heart rate and increased blood flow. Not to be confused with movement prep or muscle activation.
Your warm-up should accomplish five things:
- Priming your Central Nervous System (CNS).
- Elevating your heart rate.
- Controlling your joints.
- Priming your mobility.
- Increase your core temperature.
Priming your CNS/Controlling your joints:
With priming your CNS and controlling your joints in mind, it’s wise to work on single-joint patterns, then progress to multi-joint movements, while gradually allowing gravity to come into play.
Ex. Baby foot raises<Glute kickbacks<Birddog<Half-kneeling reaches<Squat-reach
The purpose of priming your CNS and controlling joints is to create a safe environment while also mitigating the risk of injury.
As you want to gradually complicate movement, and intensify gravity, you also want to gradually add intensity, whether that comes in the form of weight, or speed.
Utilize bodyweight movements that mimic the primary pattern you plan to implement in your workout, such as squats, deadlifts, and push-ups.
Priming your mobility:
Now is not the time to try to increase your mobility or flexibility. You are merely priming the mobility that you currently have to mitigate any risk of muscle strains.
It’s ideal to focus on dynamic stretching as opposed to static stretching as it serves to coax the fascia.
Elevating your HR/Increasing your core temp:
Your heart rate and core temperature should begin to elevate via your dynamic stretching, which is a great platform to spring into some interval cardio.
If conditioning is your focus for the day, you may very well spend the rest of your time here.
If strength training is your focus for the day, aim for 8-12 minutes of interval work. 4-6 intervals will be sufficient for elevating the HR and increasing core temperature.
A few examples are running, cycling, and rowing - not necessarily on a machine.
When you are trying to elevate your heart rate by doing cardio, time is a great way to create structure, but HR is better.
Often, the structure will look like this: 30 seconds high-intensity, 30 seconds low-intensity.
In concept, this is great but we could do better.
We want to know what our HR is when we increase our effort, and what it is when we decrease our effort.
Be sure that on the high intensity of your interval, you tap into HR zone 3, and drop down to zone 1 before kicking into high intensity again.
Zone 1: 50%-60% of your max HR
Zone 2: 60%-70% of your max HR
Zone 3: 70%-80% of your max HR
Zone 4: 80%-90% of your max HR
Zone 5: 90%-100% of your max HR
Max HR = 220 - your age
If possible, do your cardio outside in the sun or with some music playing on headphones, because both can help make the workout more enjoyable!
Step 4: Rolling and crawling
Once you’re all warmed up, you’re going to want to start with some foundational movement patterns like crawling and rolling.
Performing a variety of crawling and rolling patterns forces us to connect well to our CNS and is tremendously beneficial to the nervous system, setting us up for success when performing more complex movements.
Pick two or three rolling or crawling patterns, and alternate them.
Ex. Roll, Crawl, Roll, Crawl, Roll, Crawl
Follow me on IG @mr_stress_undone for ideas!
And don’t forget to download my EBook and keep an eye out for a discount on my Foundational Movement Patterns Series!
Congratulations, you’re now ready for your workout!
Key workout tips:
- We want to train patterns - not parts.
Meaning, we want to think of framing our workouts around pulling, pushing, rotating, squatting, bending, lunging, or carrying.
We don’t want to frame our workouts around parts i.e. legs, back, shoulders, arms etc.
When we train patterns, parts will always benefit.
- It’s always better to wake up saying, “I could have done more” as opposed to, “I should have done less.”
It’s not the Superbowl, you don’t have to leave it all on the field.
Don’t look to be sore ALL of the time. Just because you’re not sore doesn’t mean you didn’t accomplish anything, and just because you are sore doesn’t mean you did any good to your body.
The gist of it:
- Get the tools and technology you need to facilitate the workout, as well as feel safe, confident, and secure.
- Foam rolling is supposed to be awkward at first - keep doing it.
- Work from least challenging to more challenging - even in your warm-up.
- Train patterns, not parts.
- Better safe than sorry.
- What’s the focus of today's workout?
- What are my body's needs as opposed to my wants?
- Am I going into the workout with a clear runway, or is something wrong, such as pain or discomfort that needs to be addressed first?
By: Vinny Nuzzo, mr_stress_undone
Integrative Health Coach