You have just over an hour to accomplish a workout in the gym. You want to feel good about it when your are done, maybe a little re-energized to take on the rest of the day. If you have kids then you cherish this time a little bit more…it’s all about me, baby! The kids may be with a sitter or in the “kid club”; time to make this workout your bitch and let go of the frustrations acquired while tending to the never ending needs of your children!
So what works for me: Decide which area of the body you want to target today (is the
goal high intensity interval training, mobility work or straight strength) then hit it
hard and from multiple angles.
There is no upper body or lower body day for this chick. It will be combinations of
movements in different planes to get the most bang for my buck. For example, hit those
moves that require multiple muscle groups, ie. compound exercises. Deadlifts, lunges or
squats will get those glutes, quads and hamstrings firing. Now go ahead and load those
movements with weight (free weights, barbell, or med. ball) and now you’re bringing
trunk/core/upper body to the party. If you’re feeling like a rockstar, try adding a
rotational movement to your lunges or a cross body reach! Super-set any of these
exercises by immediately following up with another movement. This may be squat jumps or
banded lateral walks (bonus points if you carry a weight). For me, THERE IS NO DOWNTIME!
I prefer the active recovery approach; let those burning muscles take a little breather
by making them the supporting role in the next activity, not the star of the show. Maybe
you just lower the intensity of your next set. Either way, you recover while continuing
to get the work in. With this approach there is really no need for me to do cardio. If
you are constantly moving and going between exercises you will sweat and you will be
breathing hard. This brings me to a point worth mentioning: Make each rep. better than
the one previous! You have limited time to make those gains and the mind to body/muscle
connection has to be on point. If you cannot feel the muscles heating up and starting to
burn at some point during your set, you just aren’t making the most of that time. Slow
the movement down for a few reps. and close your eyes. Just feel it!
Finally, my most favorite thing to do is transition from the strenuous activity to a
place of muscle lengthening and mindfulness. For me, it is the reward or dessert at the
end of a meal. I take the approach of functional stretching. Calm the body down through
controlled stretch and movement. For example, rather than perform a static hamstring
stretch I prefer to perform small knee bending and straightening at end range (the point
of strong hamstring stretch sensation), or maintain a fixed knee position and move the
trunk into and out of the stretch. This helps me to keep the pelvis in the optimal
position for better posture and emphasize the hamstring, not strain the back. If you
want to bring it to the next level, close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly while
you focus on this sensation. I know I do! I also find that it makes me better able to
face the challenges of being a parent…human even!