This is the fifth in a series of articles intended to expose our readers to pertinent information regarding their fitness efforts. It is produced mainly on the basis of research done by Rodriguez “Rodja” Constantine, owner of REPTS (Registered Exercise Professionals & Therapists). Rodja, Personal Trainer and Fitness Consultant is a Body Weight Specialist with over 20 years experience.
Switching Up Your Workouts & Speeding Up Results.
ALL to often people perform their strength training exercises the same way over and over, using only plain old bilateral movements. What is a bilateral movement you ask? Bilateral means using both limbs in unison or together doing the same movement in the same direction. For example, a typical overhead press where you press up with both arms overhead at the same time and speed using the same weight on each side is a bilateral movement.
Not that there is anything wrong with a bilateral movements but here are a few easy ways to change up your exercises which will not only add some much needed variety and make your workouts more exciting but will also make them more effective.
UNILATERAL: Instead of using both limbs at once, how about only one at a time. So taking that classic overhead press and using only one dumbbell on one side at a time. So why do this? Well it adds an element of instability that usually requires greater activation from other muscles to help balance and control the movment, in this case the midsection/core muscles may have to work harder. It can also address weaknesses you may have on one side or the other.
RECIPROCAL: A reciprocal movement is one where you are moving both limbs at the same time but in opposite directions. Some classic examples of reciprocal movements are running or swimming. Again using the example of an overhead press, as you press one side up you are lower in the other side at the same time so it is like a piston movement. This type of motion can also really challenge balance as well as add a big element of coordination into the mix. You now have to figure out how to control two separate objects moving in opposite directions at the same time.
ALTERNATING: An alternating movement is a little bit like a reciprocal movement but instead of both limbs moving in opposites at once, you move one limb through the full movement completely before starting the other. So again with an overhead press you would press one side fully up and down before starting the other side. Isn’t this just the same as a unilateral exercise I hear you say. Kinda, but not really. Yes you are moving just one limb at a time but in a unilateral exercise you would perform all reps on one side then switch to the other. In an alternating exercise you are alternating reps on each side. Again this kicks up the coordination and balance factors a couple of notches.
UNEVEN: When you go grocery shopping how often does the checkout clerk fill the bags with the exact same weight in each? I’m my experience – never. One bag always seems to have all the heavy items, leaving you all lopsided. This is actually also a great way to train. Instead of using an exact pair of dumbbells for that overhead press, try some uneven weights. Why would you do this? Well as our grocery example shows this is truly functional training as it is a real world scenario.
According to the functional training “experts”, functional training uses bands, balls, free-weights, and plyometric exercises in an attempt to condition the body in an un-stable environment. Many of the experts feel that performing exercises that mimic activities or specific skills is the most effective way to train, regardless of one’s goal. Functional training adds a big coordination and balance element to the exercise as well as addresses weaknesses on one side or the other. As a general rule of thumb use up to 5lbs differences for upper body exercises and up to 10lbs differences for lower body.
So next time you workout give some of these movement variations a try. Not only will they add some much needed variety into your workouts but they can also help you achieve faster results.
Rodriguez”Rodja” Constantine is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Consultant and owner of REPTS ( Registered Exercise Professionals & Therapists), a Personal Training Studio located in the Richard Fredrick Building in Castrires and in Rodney Bay opposite RJ Clarke. Rodja has over 20 years fitness experience and through REPTS offers upgradeable fitness packages (Personal and small Group Training, Body Analysis, Nutrition Counselling and Planning, NutriCare, FREE Cardio only Gym Membership, Physi-Fitness, and etc.) for one affordable monthly fee. Rodja also designs long term fitness plans and short term workout routines for use at home, your current gym, or when traveling. We invite you to visit REPTS for a free consultation and a tailored programme that will best help you achieve your fitness goal. You may call at anytime at 758-722-3763 during business hours (4:30a.m. – 10:00 p.m.)to schedule an FREE consultation and trial session. . Subscribe to our website at reptsfitness.com or follow repts on facebook at facebook.com/repts.fitness. Call for details.