If you are still training with a workout program that focuses on parts of the body in isolation, you’re probably a dinosaur.
The smarter approach is to train particular movements, not particular muscles. Of course, when you train movements rather than muscles, you need to give extra attention to certain areas of the body, depending on your specific athletic needs.
When designing a workout program, follow these seven principles for balance, safety and effectiveness.
All programs must have squatting or knee-dominant exercises. Some of my favorite squatting patterns are Zercher Squats, Front Squats, Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squats and Deficit Reverse Lunges.
For every squat/knee-dominant pattern you perform, do an equal number of, or slightly more, hinging or hip-dominant patterns. Great hinging patterns include Kettlebell Swings, Glute/Ham Raises, Barbell Glute Bridges and Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts.
For upper-body movements, use both horizontal and vertical pressing options. Horizontal pressing could include Bench Press, Push-Ups or Single-Arm Pressing. Vertical pressing would include Push Press, Kettlebell Strict Overhead Press and Single-Arm Overhead Press from a half kneel.
For every pressing variation, be sure to do equal or slightly more horizontal and vertical pulling options. Horizontal pulling would include any type of rowing variation, and vertical pulling would include any type of Pull-Up or Chin-Up variation.
Core training does not include crunching variations. Think of training the core as creating spinal stability. Carry something heavy. Great examples of core training could include Farmer’s Walks, Sandbag Front-Loaded Carry and Overhead Carry. I also like to use Planks.
Training must occur in all planes of motion. Many people get comfortable training in just the sagittal plane, missing out on movement in the frontal and transverse planes. Using the squat pattern as an example, you can do Front Squats in the sagittal plane, Lateral Step-Ups in the frontal plane, and a Curtsy Lunge in the transverse plane.
It’s important to use both bilateral and unilateral variations of exercises for the lower and upper body. A good bilateral hinging pattern, for example, is the Romanian Deadlift, while a unilateral option might be a Single-Leg RDL or a Single-Leg Bridge. An upper-body example for pulling would be a Barbell Bent Row for a bilateral option and a Single-Arm Cable Row for a unilateral version.
Sample 2-Day-per-Week Program
A1) Zercher Squat – 5 X 4
A2) Single-Leg RDL – 5 X 4 each leg
B1) Dumbbell Single-Arm Bench Press – 3 X 8 each arm
B2) Neutral Grip Pull-Up – 3 X 8 to 10
C1) Farmer’s Carry – 3 X 40 yards
C2) Pallof Press – 3 X 10 each side
10-minute metabolic conditioning
A1) Romanian Deadlift – 5 X 4
A2) Lateral Step-Up – 5 X 4 each leg
B1) Half Kneel Overhead Press – 3 X 8 each side
B2) Dumbbell Bent Row – 3 X 8 each side
C1) Tall Kneel Cable Lift and Chop – 3 X 10 each side