Your Safety: Get Your Total Body Workout without Harming Yourself
Are you interested in starting a total body workout regimen? If so, the best way to begin on a positive and healthy track is to ensure your body’s safety. However, what is a total body workout? It is one that doesn’t focus on a particular muscle group; rather, it encompasses all of the muscle groups in your body. Total body workouts don’t have to be intense at first, because the goal is to not only strengthen all of the muscles but to keep your muscles flexible to minimize injury and to increase cardiovascular muscle strength and endurance. Workout safety is essential in all exercise routines and must be maintained throughout.
Before starting any total body workout exercise routine you need to ask yourself the following questions.
- Do I want to build overall cardiovascular health?
- Do I want to build large, bulky muscles?
- Do I want to build smaller muscles and more endurance?
- What type of equipment do I need to use in order to obtain the intended results?
- How much time can I reasonably spend each week on a total body workout routine?
- What types of food and liquids should I consume to fuel my body so that I stay healthy and fit?
- Can I commit to getting the sleep my body needs to build muscle strength and endurance?
- Am I willing to put workout safety first before all of my exercise goals?
The human body is a finely tuned machine capable of doing amazing things. However, that machine needs maintenance otherwise it will break down. Like any car or motorcycle, you can’t start it up and run it “full throttle” within the first few minutes without something breaking. The human body needs to be eased into heavy stress situations, and we do that by slowly stretching the muscles before we take the body out for a spin.
To effectively do a total body workout, you must first loosen up the muscles. Stretching maintains flexibility—the same flexibility we took for granted in our younger years. Just remember, when doing any stretching or exercise, you need to breathe naturally. All too often, people alter their breathing without thinking about it.
Common stretching exercises that increase blood flow and loosen tight muscles and joints include:
- Runner’s stretch is often done while sitting on the floor with one leg stretched out in front of you. You bend your upper body down while lightly holding on to the leg that is outstretched. You can also do a similar exercise by crouching on one leg, stretching your other leg to the side and turning your foot horizontal with the floor and bending your upper body slightly towards your ankle.
- Standing left and right stretch involves clasping your outstretched hands above your head and slowly pivoting your torso left and right.
- Lunge stretch is where you move one leg forward, bend it at the knee and move your body forward, and put the vast majority of your body weight on it while leaving the other leg outstretched behind you. Then alter legs after about 10-30 seconds. Ease into the stretch so that you don’t cause pain to any muscles. This exercise also strengthens the thigh muscles.
- Torso twist involves standing with your hands gently on your waist and turning your upper body as far as you can to the left and right. Hold that for about 10 seconds on each side. Ease into this exercise as you should be with all stretching exercises. Try to do 3 or 4 sets to loosen up the back muscles.
- Head turn, drop and rotate help loosen up the neck and shoulder muscles. Do them slowly so that you don’t pull any muscles and cause any injuries. Head turn – turn your head left to right. Head drop – drop your head down and back up. Head rotates – pretend your head is on a ball joint and roll your head down to the chest, to one shoulder, then towards your back, then to your other shoulder, and finally to your original position. Don’t force the neck, use just enough muscle strength to ease the neck around. Do this for a minute or two, and don’t forget that if you are experiencing any neck pain, you should stop the exercise.
- Calf stretches can be done sitting down with one outstretched leg, and gently pulling on the toes with your hand or a towel and increasing the pull as the muscles loosen up.
- Backstretch exercises can be done in the same position as the calf stretch except you put both legs outstretched in front of you as you lean your torso forward towards your legs. I prefer this stretching exercise over standing up and bending at the waist because it is much easier on the back muscles and helps prevent back injury strains.
- Be creative and think about the muscles you haven’t already stretched and find ways to loosen them up gently. Remember that the human body moves in a 3-dimensional plane, and the stretches you do need to be done in up and down left to right, and backward and forwards motions. Stretching is one of the most important things you can do to help maintain your body and to help prevent injuries. Workout safety includes safe and effective stretching exercises.
Whether you are trying to build small or large muscle, you first have to build muscle endurance through aerobic exercise. Fitness experts know that without endurance, you won’t last long in any full body workout routine. If your ultimate goal is a total body workout, aerobic exercise is key to accomplishing that.
- Brisk walking, running, jogging, bicycling, and dancing, are suitable for building endurance, make your lower body muscles strong, as well as your heart, but don’t do much for improving upper body strength.
- Rowing and playing sports such as tennis and racquetball help strengthen some of the upper and lower body muscles, as well as the heart, but don’t work all of the muscles groups needed for a great cardiovascular workout.
- Climbing engages all major muscle groups at any given time. If climbing is total-body workouts in a short amount of time is your goal, climbing machines and fitness classes, such as the VersaClimber and Rise Nation, allow users to choose the pace they wish to work out. Because climbing machines work all the major muscles at the same time, they don’t require as much time to get the same cardio workout as other forms of exercise. Climbing machines do provide a great total body workout, are an excellent way to build heart and muscle health, and can be easily modified for beginners, intermediate level, and professional level exercise enthusiasts. Plus, workout safety is easy to maintain with a climbing machine such as the VersaClimber.
Muscle Building Exercises
If you want to round out your exercise routine and build muscle, either large or small mass, heavyweights, light weights, and resistance exercise are the way to go about it.
- Dumbbells, barbells, and free weights can build tight, strong, and bulky muscles, given the weight used and the number of sets and reps you do.
- Weight machines provide resistance and can build strong muscles, but when used alone the weight machines don’t give the same muscle definition that free weights do. Also, weight machines are often used by inexperienced weight trainers who haven’t learned how to balance heavy free weights properly. Given that lifting free weights can be dangerous, only experienced weightlifters should use them.
- Weight resistance is an excellent way to stay in shape if you want to have toned muscles but don’t want the rippled look that free weights provide or the strong muscles that can be obtained using weight machines. Common forms of weight resistance include the use of body weight, such as pushups, situps, or pull-ups; or resistance power bands.
We hope you have the tools to help you start your exercise routine. As you gain knowledge and experience in total body workouts and exercise regimens, you will find that exercise safety becomes almost second nature and you won’t have to think about it as much.
However, before starting any exercise routine, it’s essential that you consult with a healthcare professional to make sure that you are healthy enough to do certain types of exercise. Also, it would be best if you had periodic physicals by a healthcare professional to make sure your health hasn’t changed. Workout safety needs to be the primary goal in any exercise routine. Just remember, that you are only given one body and if you don’t take care of it, no one else can or will. For information on what level of total body workouts you can complete at a Rise Nation class, contact one of our studios.