Set Attainable Goals
Setting goals is important, but setting attainable goals is crucial. Consider how much time you’re able to invest and how soon you want to reach your goal. Personal trainers work best with specific goals—especially ones that are more than just weight-loss related! While weight-loss is a common goal, there are plenty other milestones that are worth working towards! Think pushup goals, running speed or distance goals, and flexibility/range of motion goals.
Observe the Personal Trainer with Their Clients
What kinds of exercises do you see them doing? Is the trainer into it or does he or she seem bored? Does the client look like he or she is working hard and having fun? Do you notice the same exercises being taught to different clients every time? These are all important considerations when searching for the trainer that’s right for you. Most trainers will be able to effectively train you, what matters is finding the trainer who will coach you and keep you motivated throughout your relationship.
Ask for a Consultation
Many personal trainers will offer a free consultation to talk about goals, answer questions and potentially give a 30-minute complimentary session.* During this time, it’s best to come prepared with a list of questions. Use this time to get a feel for their personality and how well you two will mesh. A few questions you may want to consider:
- What is your philosophy on fitness?
- What is your background and how did you make the decision to become a personal trainer?
- What are your costs? Do you have specific packages or plans?
- What is your desired frequency of sessions and how long do they last?
- What hours are you available for training?
- What would a long-term plan look like for me?
- How do you stay up-to-date with the latest information and studies in the health and fitness world?
- What do you do to stay healthy and fit?
You may want to talk to your gym’s manager about what other clients have said about certain personal trainers to get a better feel for the candidate. In addition to gaining a better feel for the trainer you have in mind, the manager may be able to recommend personal trainers based on what you’d like to gain from personal training.
This isn’t important for everyone, but for some—gender matters. If you’d feel more comfortable working with a co-ed personal trainer, it’s a good idea to ask your gym’s manager if the trainer you have in mind has experience working with the opposite gender.
When you’re ready to achieve your health and fitness goals, choosing a personal trainer requires a bit of research and patience. However, it’s worth the effort knowing the trainer you choose is right for you!
How did you choose your trainer?
Share your story in the comments below!
*The 30-minute free-session varies from location-to-location and trainer-to-trainer. They may not offer this, but it’s always okay to ask.
The Top 10 Total-Body Medicine Ball Workouts
A gym without a medicine ball is like a basketball court with no hoops, yet often they get overlooked. Medicine balls are wondrously simple tools for improving your functional fitness.
While there are plenty of medicine ball exercises to choose from, I’ve gathered my favorite 10 that can be peppered into your current routine to spice things up. You can even do them all together to complete one medicine ball-inspired workout!
1. Bicycle Kicks
There isn’t a single muscle grouping that isn’t involved in this masterpiece of a movement, although make no mistake… your abdominals are the highlight. If you’re challenged in the coordination department, then this is a great opportunity for you to improve!
How to do it: Take a V-sit position with your feet off the ground, if you’re able (feet on the ground for back issues). Take your medicine ball and pass it underneath your leg by bringing your knee towards your chest. Repeat on the other side in a figure 8 formation.
Rep count: 10-30 (each leg = 1 rep)
2. Balance Burpee
If you’re nursing any wrist injuries, sit this one out. If not, then get ready for an added bonus of balance to the traditional burpee!
How to do it: Start standing with your medicine ball before bringing it to the floor, using it as a singular handle, and jumping back with your legs into a plank position, momentarily. Jump back towards the ball, then jump straight upward before repeating the whole grueling process. If the jump is too hard on any joints, tendons, or ligaments then go through the same motions only with a step instead of a jump.
Rep count: 10-20
3. Wall-Sit Cabbage Patches
This exercise is made exponentially better by blasting a great song through your headphones and getting lost in the music. It’s also a great way to get your legs screaming, core engaged, and shoulders fired up (if you’re in the market for such things).
How to do it: Choose your medicine ball weight, find a blank space of wall and get in a wall-sit position. Then, get your best “dad dance” going with as wide of a circle as your muscles can muster. Make sure you go both directions with your cabbage patch or else we’re never going to make it onto “So You Think You Can Dance.” That’s what we’re all here for after all, right?
Rep count: 10-20 Circles (each direction)
4. V-Sit Single Arm Balance Presses
This is another one that puts the “core” in “coordination” which, and this can’t be stressed enough, is great for helping your body operate at its fullest potential. When you incorporate balance movements into your regimen, you give love to the small stabilizers, tendons, and ligaments that make your body’s world-go-round in ways that major movements can’t. Plus, you open more neural pathways which increases your mind-to-muscle connection. Read; enhanced bodily function & decreased potential for injury.
How to do it: Revisit the V-sit position (feet up if able, feet down for back issues) and hold a medicine ball in one hand in preparation to shoulder press. Have your free arm extended all the way out to work as a counterbalance mechanism while working your core even harder. Balance the medicine ball in your hand and press all the way up. Bring it back down while maintaining your balance and repeat!
Rep count: 10-15 (each side)
5. Atlas Chops
The last of the V-sit positions, this one is the most taxing on bodies that have back problems, so unless you’ve got a good command of your core, back, and hips… consider avoiding this one. If you’re good to go, then let’s do it! The focal point is core with your arms and back getting some great sculpting by proxy.
How to do it: Maintain the V-sit pose (feet up is the hardest, feet down offers lower back support), grab your medicine ball, and bring it to the back of your neck with arms bent at the elbow. Bring the ball back in front of you and all the way down to your hip (you choose which one since you’ll be alternating) while keeping your arms bent. Repeat by bringing the ball back up and then down to the other side.
Rep count: 10-30 (each side = 1 rep)
6. Lateral Lunges w. Butterfly Elbows
Working your lateral range of motion is easy to overlook but is wise to avoid if you can help it. This is a great one for getting that side movement in not just with your legs, but your arms as well.
How to do it: Take a wide stance while holding your medicine ball against your chest. Lateral lunge all the way to one side, focusing on getting as much of a stretch on the extended leg as you can while keeping the heel flat on your anchor leg. As you lean into the leg stretch, flare your elbows all the way up to parallel with your shoulders while keeping hold of the medicine ball. As you come back up to switch to the other side with your legs, bring your elbows down. Repeat on the other side!
Rep count: 10-20 (each side)
7. Isometric Lunge Orbits
If you’ve been looking to do a wall-sit style exercise, only with lunges… look no further, the time is now.
How to do it: Get into a lunge position with your medicine ball, lunge downward, and hold at the bottom. The leg in front of you should be at a 90-degree angle (or close to it) which is perfect for you to pass the ball around your thigh, going under/over the leg. Once you’re finished with your reps, do the same thing on the other side.
Rep count:10-20 (each side)
8. Kneeling BOSU Ball Bounces
A BOSU is easiest for this one, but if you don’t have one, anything that you can balance on your knees while keeping your feet off the ground will do (folded mat, foam pads, cushions, etc.). This exercise adds a small plyometric component while sharpening your reflexes and further strengthening your infrastructure.
How to do it: Take a kneeling position on a BOSU (round side up) with your weighted ball of choice. If you’re able, keep your feet off the ground (if not, you have something to work up to). Now simply bounce the ball hard enough to bounce back up and catch it. Repeat as fast as you can while doing your best not to lose control of the ball (this may take some practice). For an added bonus, bounce the ball to your left and right. This will challenge your balance and engage your core, too.
Rep count: 10-30
9. Quadominal Extensions
This exercise will target your quads, hamstrings, and abdominals in an “outside the box” sort of way. Whichever of those three need the most work is where you’ll feel it the most.
How to do it: Lie on your back and place your medicine ball between your feet (a little weight goes a long way). Squeeze the ball between your feet and lift your legs up, maintaining a 90-degree angle at the knee and keeping your knees above your hips. Holding this position like a statue, extend your legs all the way up while holding the ball. This is one of the few times where the goal is to lock your knees out. Return the ball back down and do not let your knees sway.
Rep count: 10-15
10. Back Extension Pass
Our last endeavor involves the entirety of your back kinetic chain to assure no stone is left unturned. Although it seems simple, this exercise acts as a spotlight on areas that might get ignored more than you think. Be mindful of your neck, shoulders, back (upper and lower), core and legs as they’re all going to need to work together to get this done correctly.
How to do it: Lay on your stomach with your medicine ball about an arms-length away from your head. You can elevate your feet to get an enhanced glute/lower back squeeze but keep your feet down on the ground if the strain is too much. When you’re ready, simply roll the ball from one side of your body to the other doing your best not to let your arms drop until your allotted reps have been done.
Why Active Rest Is Essential—And How to Get It
You’ll be happy to learn that rest days are an essential part of your fitness journey. That’s right! Get rid of the guilt you have for not hitting the gym seven days a week. But if you think rest days are for laying completely perpendicular on the couch, think again. Taking a recovery day doesn’t always mean doing absolutely nothing. It’s time to start incorporating active rest days into your workout plan!
Why is rest important?
When you don’t give your body time to recover from your workouts, you run the risk of overtraining. Symptoms of overtraining may include extended muscle soreness, a weakened immune system, poor sleep quality, a decrease in performance during workouts, or even worse, injury. Not good!
Incorporating both active and passive rest days will give your body the time it needs to repair itself, recover, and grow. Scheduled rest days also give you permission to take a mental break from your taxing workouts and allow you to reenergize and get pumped for the next training session.
What is active rest?
Active rest days are meant to be light and easy compared to heart-pumping workouts. They will vary somewhat given your experience level. The active rest day of someone just getting started will look different and actually more intense from someone who crushes their workouts five days week. The goal is to get moving just enough to get your blood pumping and stimulate your body’s recovery process.
Opting for active over passive rest has other benefits, including elevating your mood, increasing energy levels, and helping you stick to your nutritional goals on your active days.
What can I do on active rest days?
Save Netflix binges for another time; you’re fit, active, and full of energy. In other words, keep it moving!
The following ideas will help you take full advantage of your time away from the squat rack:
- Spend time focusing on dynamic warm-ups, mobility drills, foam rolling, and core strengthening exercises
- Go for a walk in the park, or by the lake/beach
- Ask some friends to get active outside of the gym by rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, or bowling
- Make time to take the dog to the dog park
- Spend time running around with the kids for quality active time
- Make a special trip to a trampoline park
- Play a game of kickball
- Hit up the local playground
- Go out dancing for date night or with friends
- Opt for a lower intensity workout such as swimming, jogging, biking, a bodyweight workout, or hopping on the elliptical
- Take a restorative yoga class for your muscles and your mind
- Head to the gym for a light workout where you focus on breathing, form, and being present
- Schedule a massage for yourself to really help those muscles relax
How long should I “rest”?
Active rest days look different for every gym-goer. For those of you attacking an intense program each day, your active rest day could be light. If you’re new to the #fitfam and your workouts have been light to moderate, you can take a more active approach. Aim for 15 to 60 minutes of activity.
Active rest is essential for everyone!
Choose an activity that keeps you moving, makes you happy, helps you relieve stress, and stops you from counting sets and reps every day. Give yourself permission to step back and enjoy your fitness journey. Your body and mind will thank you!
Bored With Your Gym Routine? Sandbags Can Help!
Chances are you’ve passed over the sandbags at your gym and I totally get it. If you haven’t used sandbags before, it can be difficult to understand how best you can incorporate them into your workout routine. I am here to change that! Sandbags are an awesome choice for improving both strength and coordination. Read on for all the info you need about how to use sandbags and why you should add them into your gym routine.
When I think about what equipment I want to use with my clients I ask myself:
- Is this an effective tool for developing strength and movement?
- Does it meet my demands for functional training—meaning: does it improve the body’s ability to function efficiently on all planes and can I increase levels on complexity of time to stress the kinetic chain?
- Do I have an understanding of how to use it and—more importantly—how to coach someone using it?
Sandbags are a great tool that hit on all my requirements. The sandbag, if used correctly, can increase inter-muscular coordination and encourages your body to reproduce correct movement patterns and form. Sandbags are particularly great for working on your holding position, body position, and planes of motion.
Holds, Body Positioning, Planes of Motion and How They Work
Holding position refers to how we progressively change how we hold the sandbag in efforts to change the stress applied to the body. A barbell, for example, has four or five different positions while a sandbag has more than ten. When we change how we hold the sandbag, you exert more energy—making sandbags a fantastically efficient strength training tool.
Body positionrefers to how we stand when we lift the sandbag. Making slight changes to our body position can completely change how an exercise feels. Performing a clean in a staggered stance, for example, completely changes the exercise and how your body responds to it.
Planes of motion are the dimensions in which our bodies move. There are three planes of motion: transverse, frontal and sagittal. Because we don’t move in a single dimension (it would be impossible!), we shouldn’t train that way. Introducing different ways to utilize your planes of motion works best by first resisting them with movements like shoulder squats, rotational lunges, and lateral drags like in DVRT Training.
Try fitting a few of these into your workouts:
Have you used the sandbags before? Are you willing to give them a shot after learning a bit more about them? Tell us in the comments!
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