One way to stay motivated during the winter months is to mix things up at the gym. A full-body workout gives your brain a boost and wakes up muscles to use in different and challenging ways.
Here’s a plan outlined by Andy Coggan, director of the Fitness Academy at Gold’s Gym.
Full-body workout benefits
Even if you’re not feeling the winter blues, throwing a full-body workout into the mix is good for many reasons:
- It can help you push past plateaus.
- It can boost performance in your favorite sports, especially seasonal sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
- It incorporates muscle recovery time—one of the biggest blocks to progress is not getting adequate time to recover.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Do the workout (30-45 minutes)
Tuesday, Thursday: Opt for active rest, such as a walk, a light run, yoga, or your favorite sport
30- to 60-second rest between sets
1-minute rest when moving to a new exercise
Raise the intensity of the workout from week to week by trying to decrease your rest time between exercises. For example, try to drop by 10 seconds each week.
- Week 1: 60-second rest
- Week 2: 50-second rest
- Week 3: 40-second rest
- Week 4: 30-second rest, and push your body much harder in each session.
Remember to focus on good form.
Choose a weight that would allow you to do one or two more reps if you kept going. If you can do more reps than this, you need to increase the weight; if you can’t do one or two more, try a lighter weight.
One-armed dumbbell snatch: 3 sets of 7 reps
Why: This develops power and explosiveness in the hips and lower body and builds unilateral stability.
How: With feet about hip-width apart and a single dumbbell placed on the ground between your feet, lift the weight with one arm directly up from the floor to overhead. Keep the weight in close to the body, elbow high without stopping until you reach full extension above your head.
Pro tips: This is not an upper-body movement. To get the most out of the snatch, approach it similar to the mechanics of jumping. Start by pushing your hips back and loading the lower body. Allow the momentum of your lower-body extension to drive the weight up over your head.
Inverted rows: 3 sets of 8 reps
Why: This exercise can help you gradually build the strength to lift your body weight and prepare you for more challenging variations such as a pull-up.
How: Using a Smith machine or squat station, set a barbell on a lower setting and lie on your back under the horizontal bar. Keeping your body in a straight line, use an overhand grip and lift your body up to the bar, and lower slowly down. That’s one rep.
Pro tips: The more horizontal your body is, the harder this exercise will be. Adjust the angle of your body to make the exercise appropriate for your current strength level. You can also bend your knees slightly to give yourself a little assist if needed. To make the exercise more challenging, simply elevate your feet on a bench to make your body completely horizontal.
Dumbbell bench press: 3 sets of 10 reps
Why: This works the chest muscles with the support of your arm and shoulder muscles.
How: Lie flat on a bench, holding two dumbbells up directly over your shoulders. Slowly lower both dumbbells, then drive to full extension in one fluid motion. Keep your body flat and your feet planted on the floor.
Pro tips: If your lower body is coming up off the bench during the press, you’re probably driving with your legs and hips instead of with your chest and arm muscles.
Goblet squat: 2 sets of 10 reps
Why: The goblet squat strengthens all muscles of the lower body as well as many throughout the core and upper body, as those muscles work to stabilize the spine and support the load.
How: The goblet squat is similar to other squat variations, but with a kettlebell or a dumbbell held in front of your body and below the chin. Set your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out to 15-30 degrees. Lower your hips down between your knees, attempting to keep your torso as upright as possible, and then press back up to the start.
Pro tips: Keep the weight in close to your body and maintain good posture. If you start to lean forward, stop the exercise there until you can achieve a lower position with your hips.
Cross-body standing chops: 2 sets of 12 reps
Why: The wood-chop motion engages your obliques, back, shoulders and legs to whittle and define the waist.
How: Start with your feet more than hip-width apart. With both hands, hold a medicine ball by your left hip. (You can also use a dumbbell.) Turn your torso to the right, and lift the ball overhead on the right. Move it from high to low across your body, ending on the left side, as if you were chopping wood.
Pro tips: To trim your midsection, you must watch your nutrition. Try to eat the proper amounts of protein and healthy fats, and remember your post-workout complex carbs, such as whole grain breads or a starchy vegetable.
Mountain climbers: 2 sets of 24 reps
Why: This cardio boost can improve circulation and burn calories while helping you develop better flexibility, coordination and range of motion.
How: Start in a plank position, with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart, body straight out, core tight. While balancing on your toes, bring your right knee toward your chest, and then quickly alternate legs as if you were running continuously.
Pro tips: The key to proper form is keeping your core tight. To place less strain on your back, bring your knee up using your lower ab muscles.