Why I CAN’T STAND Body-Split Workout Routines!
It’s a cool, cloudy day here on Long Island, and it’s a fun adult Saturday: I’ve already made a trip to BJ’s to get some water and cleaning supplies for the apartment, my girlfriend and I are heading to another couple of grocery stores for food that BJ’s didn’t have in a little bit, and then I get the distinct pleasure of scrubbing the bathtub, toilet, et al…
Gives me all the incentive in the world to one day hire a cleaning person ;-)
Anyhow, let’s talk about why creating a workout schedule based on isolating body parts is a foolhardy strategy. I’ll preface this message by saying that this is NOT a foolhardy strategy if you’re doing one of two things: 1) If you’re already lean and fit, and are looking to enter a bodybuilding competition, or 2) If you’re rehabbing from an injury, and thus need to strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons around the injured area.
For most of us, we don’t have ANY aspiration to enter a physique competition, nor are we just getting released from physical therapy. Thus the title of this post…
So, why do I consider the body-split workout schedule fool-hardy?
Well, due to my familiarity in a gym setting, as well as the six personal training certifications I have, I know a thing or two about what various exercises, machines and types of workouts do (or don’t do) to a person. Most machines you’d find in a gym isolate one particular muscle group, and in many instances, one particular muscle in that particular muscle group.
While this can certainly help build muscle(s) in that area, and can certainly help strengthen these muscles if they’re weak (a la rehab), it’s not going to make you any fitter or any more functional.
Let’s look at the most popular weighted exercise we know of: The bicep curl. Normally, you’ll hold a dumbbell in either hand, with your palms facing forward, and you’ll pull the weight up to about 90 degrees, putting tension on your biceps. Then, you’ll slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position, and repeat for reps.
While it’s nice to be ready for ‘Suns Out, Guns Out’ weather, your bicep is one of the smaller muscles on your upper arm. Your triceps actually make up two-thirds of your upper arm, and they’re much more vital to functionality and physical performance than your biceps. The problem is, we tend to neglect our triceps for functionality purposes in exchange for working our biceps for vanity purposes.
I want you to take a second and think about when you perform bicep curls in your day-to-day life? Off the top of my head, I can think of two examples: 1) 12 oz. curls, aka bringing a beer or drink of any kind to your lips, or 2) Lifting up a grocery bag with handles.
Most of the movements we go through on a daily basis are total body movements, and incorporate multiple muscle groups when performing these movements. These daily movements are considered ‘functional,’ as they are key to functioning normally from one day to the next.
ALL of the workouts I prescribe for my clients involve functional, total body movements. While some are more cardio, more core or more resistance-based, they all incorporate functional movements that engage muscles that aren’t directly related to one specific area.
For example, do you want ‘Suns Out, Guns Out’ arms, but you want to go about getting them in a functional way? Then you’ll want to try out the Front Lunge with a Bicep Curl. This exercise works not only your biceps, but every muscle in your legs, your glutes and your core. Check out this video explaining how to perform this FUNCTIONAL movement here: https://youtu.be/Cq3lB7BrqiA
One tenet that I learned during my education as a health and fitness professional is that functionality is the key to overall fitness. I used to be as strong as an ox when I started my 100 lb. weight loss journey. Putting up 1,100 lbs on the leg press machine, or squatting 650 was what I aspired to do. It was all a ‘Go Big or Go Home’ mentality.
The problem was, my workout partner during this period was more into functional training. He wanted to do things like pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups and core exercises that required both total body control and total body strength. These were workouts I struggled with immensely, as he’d lap me time and time again while I struggled just to get a few reps of each exercise in.
As I began to learn more about fitness, I realized that the way I’d been working out since I started exercising in my mid-teens may have helped me build big, strong muscles, but this methodology made me tight, inflexible, and as a result, less functional. As my functionality improved, so too did my flexibility, endurance and strength in ALL areas across the board.
Day-to-day activities that used to bother me, like squatting down flat on my heels or holding myself up became easier, and my performance on the playing field (I’m an avid softball player) began to go up quite noticeably…
Let me ask: Do you suffer from aches and pains? Do you feel inflexible? Weak? Do you get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs? Then exercises like bicep curls and tricep pushdowns aren’t going to help you!
You need functional movements, and you need to repeat these movements regularly in order to make these daily processes easier for you.
Understand why I feel the way I do about ‘Leg Day,’ or ‘Chest & Back Day?’ Good! Until tomorrow ;-)
If you need help with your fitness routine, or you’re even looking for a one-stop shop to get you into the best shape of your life without the ‘quick fix’ BS that’s currently out there, then let’s chat!
This coming week, I have a few strategy call spots open, and I’d LOVE to chat with you about your goals. It doesn’t matter if you live near me on Long Island, or halfway across the world! I have an app that will help to both guide and keep you accountable if you’re not located near me, and I make house calls if you do ;-)
To set up your FREE 15 minute call, please visit www.weightlossbypete.com/strategy. Select a date and time that works for you, and I’ll talk to you soon :-)