Everybody wants to get in shape. It’s the prime mover of an industry worth untold billions. Every single year, around January (no coincidence there) a whole line of products and means are unveiled promising to make you look and feel your best. The thing is, a lot of these are just fads. There are still principles and body dynamics that apply no matter what it is you do. If you’re looking to get into shape, stick to what science and research has proven time and time again to work. Here are 4 promising workouts that you can do to not only get in shape, but form good habits that will echo throughout the rest of your life.
Rowing For VO2 Max
Rowing has long been known to form incredible bodies. If you had any sort of doubt in your mind about the effects of rowing, just look at rowing teams. Solid posture, tremendous pulling strength (the “true” measure of physical strength according to the old school strength champions), and insane lung capacities. All of these can be simulated at home with a rowing machine. Adding rowing machine workouts to your weekly routine will do wonders for your VO2Max, the most solid measure of endurance training. If you can train within that context, the carryover applies to running, swimming, hiking — anything that involves a sustained state of induced metabolic stress. When you row, you’re using so many different groups of muscles to accomplish the job. All of the muscles along your posterior chain in fact. This kind of aerobic conditioning has been proven to be superior by sports scientists around the world. Try it out!
While we’re on rowing, it would be a disservice to not include energy systems training. When we exercise we use different sources of energy for each movement. Aerobic exercise uses plenty of oxygen. This is where we get our VO2Max measures. Sprinting, especially aggressive, competitive, short burst sprints on a row machine, trigger an anaerobic system. This means that it’s not using oxygen, but an energy molecule in our cells called ATP. These short sprints help to even out the balance between the three different types of muscle fibers that correspond with activation of energy systems: fast twitch, slow twitch, medium twitch. Guess which one activates when you go fast? That’s right! Fast-twitch. Beating your Ergometer or ERG score is a great way to practice explosiveness. Choose a distance, be it 500m, 1km, or 2km, and let it rip.
Ab Wheel Rollout
The first thing that people look for in terms of getting fit is often an ab workout. There’re a million ways to train abs, but the most effective way to isolate a muscle group is to stick to the top performers of an EMG or electromyography—the test that measures muscle activation during a movement. The undisputed king of EMG muscle activity is the ab wheel rollout. You’ve seen those contraptions everywhere. It’s the little wheel with handles. That thing, which you can find in any store across the world, has been shown to activate the rectus abdominis and its supporting structures more than any other workout. People like to trash the sit-up as an ineffective exercise. It’s honestly not that bad. All the other fad routines that you pick up on YouTube are bad. But at the top of that EMG list, no matter who you talk to is the ab wheel rollout.
There’s more to fitness than just looking good. Yes, it’s a wonderful byproduct of all your hard work. But in the end, functionality also plays a part. Not functionality in the way a CrossFit studio would sell it. True ability to withstand resistance. Nothing builds that blaster than the Turkish Get-up. A Turkish getup is a slow and controlled sequence from lying flat on your back with a weight held out in front of you, to a full standing position with said weight overhead, and back down. Do not rush any of the movements. Each art of the sequence should take you about 5 seconds. This slow pace fires on every stabilizer muscle in your body, especially your rotator cuffs. This exercise is traditionally done with kettlebells, but you can use any weight. It’s advisable to start off with no weight and build up.
There you have it! A list of 4 exercises that cover all your bases in terms of getting into shape. These selected workouts will keep you fast, fit, and stable. Sure, you can throw in some push-ups here and there, or start on a specific type of routine. But adding these four as support can, and will, up your game significantly.