Imagine you have a garden. If you water and tend to half the plants and neglect the other half, then you won’t have a successful garden. You’ll have some great plants, but not a great garden. Similarly, if you consistently train your upper body but neglect to train your lower body, you may develop a strong upper body but you won’t have total body strength.
I won’t deny that some muscle groups are more fun to train than others. But the good news is that there are methods that might make some of the undesirable training portions more exciting and enjoyable!
For example, you can adjust your program to include sessions in which you train both your upper and lower halves. If you love doing shoulder presses but don’t like doing squats, you can sub Thrusters or Push Presses into your plan. You still get to shoulder press, but you also strengthen your lower body and increase your power output.
But you don’t have to work them simultaneously. You can split your daily workout in half with some combination of upper body push/pull movements with lower body push/pull movements. You can perform supersets to efficiently complete your exercise session. For instance, you can complete one set of a bent row and compound this with a set of lunges. Your upper body can rest during the lunges and your lower body can rest during the rows. Supersets are a great way to achieve total body exercise in a limited amount of time.
Additionally, just as balance is important within strength training regimens, it is important in creating well-rounded fitness programs on a macro-level. If every exercise session is high-intensity, then it will negatively impact overall fitness. High-intensity interval training is a great component of a fitness program; so are built-in recovery days and low-impact training sessions. Some examples of recovery and low-impact day activities include walking, flexibility training, myofascial release (i.e. foam-rolling or massage therapy), Yoga, and Pilates.
Your path towards physical fitness is one of the greatest journeys that you will experience, so make it fun and sustainable. Switch out the treadmill for bodyweight cardio sometimes; switch out barbells and dumbbells for kettlebells and medicine balls once in a while; play basketball or volleyball with a group of friends instead of going for a long bike ride. When you allow your fitness universe to expand, you’ll never think of abandoning your journey.
Implementing a balanced and holistic program is a key step towards peak performance. With an open mind and a willingness to experiment with new workout structures, you might be amazed at what you can accomplish. Give it a try.
-Charlie Salek, LulaFit personal trainer