A couple of weeks ago, I was teaching a class and one of my students said I was like a chef making up a workout recipe. I really liked that analogy and I think it makes a lot of sense. I am not the best chef in the kitchen, but in the gym I am very comfortable concocting a bouillabaisse of exercises that are tailored to the people I am working with to help them achieve their goals.
A lot of people digest a very bland workout diet, consisting of the same workout done over and over each week. This is like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch for years. Not only is it boring, but it also leaves you tight in some areas and weak in others, making you more prone to injury.
Many people are repetitive exercisers, doing their one sport (running, cycling, golfing, skiing, or working out on the same piece of cardio equipment in the gym) countless times as they try to get in shape. Repetitive movement patterns force heavy loads on the same muscles, joints and tissues over and over again, which can lead to chronic tightness, pain and lack of mobility. Over time, the wear and tear on these body parts can lead to injuries that can stop you from doing the very thing you love the most.
You can prevent all this by going to your workout kitchen and choosing exercises that work the body in all the different planes of motion, so that your body can withstand those loads and forces placed against it daily. Think of your workout like a multiple course meal: the appetizer is the warm-up to the main course, with foam rolling, stretching and dynamic movements to get the body ready for the main course: strength, core and cardio training geared toward your specific needs and goals. The final course is the most relaxing part of the workout, like the dessert part of a meal: stretching and foam rolling designed to cool the body down and minimize post-workout muscle soreness. Those are the basic components of a workout. You can add a little extra spice to your workouts by tossing in some high- energy cardio bursts or some speed intervals.
Here are a few workout recipes you may want to try:
Are you a runner? You will want to loosen the ankles, hip flexors and thoracic spine and work the glutes, abs and hamstring (core) muscles, throwing in some interval speed work.
Is soccer your thing? You should do the same mobility work on the ankles, hip flexors and thoracic spine and work the core but add in some single leg training for the quads and hamstrings as well as working on quick shifts in direction over small bursts of speed, mimicking what happens on the soccer field.
Training for an obstacle course race? Make sure you do plenty of upper body training and rotational training as well as some plyometric work.
They say that “variety is the spice of life;” that same motto applies to exercise. The best part: these recipes don’t add calories, they burn calories!
An accomplished workout chef knows that adding a blend of multi-planar exercises to your regime will help you become more balanced physically and functionally, prevent injuries, and make you a better athlete.