When you work one area of your body, you must work its counterpart to get a balanced body. Try my exercise pairings to help maximize your workouts.
Most casual exercisers tend to be in a rush. You’re either short on time or simply comfortable doing the same routine over and over again. But when you train this way, your body has a tendency to become unbalanced. Even the occasional gym-goer should mix up workouts to get a balanced body. If you want a great workout that works your entire body, do exercises that balance your body. What I mean is… Let’s say you do an intense workout that focuses on the inner thighs. To avoid an imbalance, you must follow it up with exercises that work the rest of your leg muscles. Knowing which exercises go well together will make it simple to plan your session and avoid imbalances.
When you get into the habit of working only the muscle groups you like to look at, you’ll achieve a toned look but only in that one area. Before you know it, your chest is big but your back is weak. Or your biceps are thriving but your calf muscles look skinny. Visually, these common muscular imbalances may not look so bad, but internally it doesn’t feel good and can negatively impact your posture.
Today I want to share with you some tips on how you can create muscular symmetry, by structuring your current workout to allow the front and back of your body to get the same amount of work. You’ll reap the postural benefits that come with performing a balanced routine.
I believe that unless you’re training for a specific event, you’re a very disciplined exerciser or looking to really maximize your strength gains, then there’s no need to separate muscle groups into different workdays. When you separate muscle pairs into separate days, it can mean that you can work one group very hard. You may have good intentions of hitting the gym the next day to work its counterpart, but the harsh reality for most people is that other commitments often get in the way. This leaves you with one or several muscle groups unworked. If you do this on a regular basis, you can create unnecessary imbalances.
A great way to approach your workouts, especially if you are just looking to loose weight or improve your general fitness, is to do workouts with your whole body in mind. You can keep a general target zone of upper or lower body.
Here are some great exercise pairs that you can use on days when finding balance is important to you. The training technique of working your body in this way is effective. You can do this entire routine or just add one of the pairs into your current plan. Personalize your workouts to do what works for you.
Muscles worked: Chest and back of the arms (pecs and triceps)
Lie flat on a bench with your choice of weights in either hand. Raise your hands from shoulder area straight ahead. They should be in clear view. Lower back down.
Bent Over Row
Muscles worked: Upper back and front of the arms (rhomboids, posterior deltoid traps and biceps)
Stand leaning slightly forward with knees bent, arms straight towards the floor. With your weights in both hands, slowly pull them in towards your chest. Straighten and repeat to complete a set.
Muscles worked: Front of the legs and butt (quadriceps and glutes)
There are so many variations on squats. To do a traditional squat, plant your feet on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Squat down so that it’s like you’re sitting on a chair, and then come back up to standing.
Stability Ball Leg Curls
Muscles worked: Back of the legs and butt. (hamstring and glutes)
Start out by lying down on your back with your legs straight out, heels on a stability ball. Contract your glutes, raising your hips, pulling your heels towards your body. Extend your legs and repeat. If you don’t have a ball, you can work the same muscles by doing a simple bridge pose with your heels up on a bench.
Muscles worked: Abs (rectus abdominals)
Not sure how to do an ab crunch? Check out my video on how to do crunches here.
Muscles worked: lower back (erector spine)
Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keeping your arms and legs straight, lift up towards the ceiling, creating an arch in your back. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat as necessary.
Shoulder Press with Dumbbells
Muscles worked: Shoulders and arms (deltoids, triceps and biceps)
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms out, bent at elbow. Extend your arms above your head. Lower and repeat.
Muscles worked: Middle of the back (lats)
You can do a lat pulldown using the machine specifically for this at the gym. Don’t be afraid to ask the gym staff for help if this is your first time doing a lat pulldown. If you don’t have access to a lat machine at the gym, you can substitute by doing a wide grip pull-up instead.
This type of training is simple but effective. Aim to do 8-12 reps of each move, and do 3 sets of each with a few minutes of rest between each set. If you combine these strength-based moves with some of your favorite cardio such as walking, running, cycling or rowing, you will have a full body routine that can be your go-to balanced body favorite.