Earlier today in the Strong Mom Tribe I posted a workout called “The Only Strength Workout You’ll Ever NEED”
Bold claims I know! I guess I should say this workout is the base of the only strength workout you'll ever need. In the Strong Mom Tribe each Friday, I post a lot of different fun ways to get a workout in, but let’s get back to basics for a second...
If you are only doing one strength workout, it really needs to be Full Body.
To be considered "Full Body" a workout it should be comprised of exercises from EVERY movement pattern -Vertical/Horizontal Push and Pull, Quad and Hip/Hamstring Dominant, and Core. Using movement patterns to design your workout is the most efficient way to make sure you are training your whole body the right way.
The thing is, to make progress, you don't need to be switching up your workouts like crazy every day.... actually it’s the opposite. You should slowly, and intentionally be building the challenge.
First let’s start with the base workout.
Warm-up with 5- 10 minutes of light cardio, then dynamic stretches (leg swings, arm circles, etc.). After the workout, cool down with light cardio (walking, etc.) to bring down the heart rate, and then stretch.
Equipment needed: Resistance bands with anchor (door, pole, tree, etc.)
Complete each circuit 3 times: (The movement patterns are in orange. You can find more information about movement patterns here.)
15 - Windmill Pushups (T-Pushups): Horizontal Push
Start at an incline that allows you to move the full range of motion. Lower your chest down to almost touch the surface between your hand. Keep your core engaged and neck neutral (gaze just beyond your fingertips). Push back up.
Never let gravity do all the work on the way down, you should be in control. To start move very slowly with gravity (down) before you push up.
15 - Band Rows: Horizontal Pull
Stand with your knees bent slightly, feet hip distance apart. Bands should be anchored about halfway between your chest and waist. Pull back band back to your waist, keeping shoulders down and back.
Do not let the bands do the work on the release. The bands should not be pulling your arms out, you should be in control.
15 - Downward Dog Pushups: Vertical Push
Start at an incline (lower than the regular pushups), hands placed down, chest drawn toward your thighs. Slowly lower down (don’t let gravity do all the work) so that your head falls in between your hands. Stay on the balls of your feet for a smooth pivot point. Push back up through your shoulders.
15 - Lat Pull Downs: Vertical Pull
Stand one foot in front of the other, front leg bent and back leg strength, facing the anchor point over your head. Hinge at the hips so that you form a straight line through your extended leg, back and arms. Pull bands down toward your shoulders, pause and slowly release.
Never let the bands do all the work on the release. The bands should not be pulling your arms out, you should be in control.
15 - Squats: Quad Dominant
Stand with feet hip width (or slightly wider) apart. Squat down lowering your bottom down and back. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up. Your goal should be to lower your bottom down at least far enough for your upper leg to be parallel to the ground.
15 - Bridges: Hamstring Dominant
Lie face up on the floor, with your arms straight, palms down. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground a few inches from your fingertips. Inhaling: With your weight in your heels, use your hips to lift your butt off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze those glutes and engage your core as described above. Pause at the top. Exhale as you ease back down.
Focusing on your breath in this move will make this a really effective core move too!
15 - Dead Bug: Core
Start laying flat on your back. Bend your knees up so that they make a 90 degree angle with your lower leg parallel to the ground. Hold your arms straight up and out from your body. Press your lower back into the floor and keep it pressed throughout the whole motion. Exhale as you lower your right leg down, straight out. Try to get your heel as close to the ground as possible without touching while keeping the lower back pressed. Inhale as you pull it back up to the starting position (keeping the lower back pressed). Alternate legs for 1-1 count.
As you continue to exercise with this routine your body will get used to it, you will need to change your workout. However, you don’t need to change it all around and start doing something completely different.
It doesn’t need to be fancy and complicated! Keep it simple! All you need to do is progressively make little changes to this base workout, increasing the demands on your body therefore increasing your results! This idea of progressive overload is built directly into my Body After Baby Program.
Below you will see how to progress each of the moves in this base workout AND a sample schedule to effectively increase demands on your body. This is only one example of how to do it, the best way depends on your body and your goals.
This applies to both types of pushups above.
The base workout starts out at an incline. To increase the difficulty progressively lower the inclined down. Always insure you are able to do the full range of motion at said level, if not go back to higher incline and increase repetitions (15 → 20 for example). To progress past flat ground you can do decline pushup with your feet on the higher level instead (#badassmother).
This applies to the band rows and lat pulldowns.
Start with a resistance band level that, on your last set, 15 is all you feel like you can do. As it becomes easier, begin doing one arm at a time. Then you can progress to a higher level resistance band with two arms, then one...then higher level resistance band… and keep going with that pattern.
To effectively access your glutes during squats you should be able to put your weight back in your heels and sit your booty down and back. This might feel awkward, like you will fall over. If that’s the case start with a chair behind you and squat to sit. Make sure when you stand back up you press through your heels. (This is something to keep in mind every time you get up from a chair to engage your glutes more through daily activity too, #efficientasamother).
Then you can progress to a regular air squat. For the next progression add weight with a goblet squat. Finally, you can begin to progress to single leg squats with a single-leg-squat-to-sit following the same progression patterns as the two legged squat.
The bridge base workout has both feet on the the floor. The next level progression is to single leg bridge with one leg extended out. Then when that becomes easier progress to adding weight (a dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell across your hips...or a small child). When starting with weight go back to two legs before progressing back to single leg weighted bridges.
Dead Bug Progressions:
Begin by lowering only your legs down one at a time. Ensuring your lower back stays pressed into the floor. Once you can easily complete 15 reps in the manner begin working in your arms. The first level is opposite arm and leg (contralateral), as that become easier you can progress to same arm and leg (ipsilateral).
Progression Plan Example:
You don't want to change it up every workout but progressively build week to week. Here is an example of how to progress through on a schedule.
Week 1: Base Workout 3 Sets
Week 2: Base Workout 3 Sets
Week 3: Base Workout 4 Sets
Week 4: Base Workout 4 Sets
Week 5: Next Level Progressions 3 Sets
There are other ways to challenge your body with progressions. Tempo , levels of instability (challenge your balance), amount of rest and repetitions/sets can all be used to create progressions too.
Also, there are other exercises for each movement pattern that can be interchanged... but keep it simple!
Remember though, it doesn’t have to be complicated, don’t just change it up randomly, do it with intention...and then see dramatic results.
This is how we progress through in the Body After Baby Program!
All the workout are intentionally progressed to move from getting developing good posture and form, learning to engage your core and build your deep core stabilizers through rebuilding stability muscles, improving balance and continuing with strengthening your deep core stabilizers and finally toward increasing strength and building lean muscle. You will feel stronger, look more toned, and fire up your metabolism.