Rejuvenate your program for the Spring

Rejuvenate your program for the Spring

March 22, 2024

By Roody Dallemand

In our world, there are eternal battles that rage on, both covertly and overtly. Think rich vs poor, honey badger vs cobra, or even machines vs humans (Yes, the Matrix is real!). None of these battles, though, can surpass in magnitude the epic battle of the winter body vs spring body! 

Every year, our body compositions go on a roller-coaster ride. We hibernate in the winter and then try to whip ourselves into shape during the spring. The onset of good weather during springtime creates a frantic rush back to the gym or a renewed sense of urgency. It is at this point you see everyone kicking things up a notch and mixing up their routines.

With summer around the corner, it’s time to rejuvenate your program this spring! As a fitness industry veteran, I’m here to guide you during this crucial time of year. Before we dive in, let’s solidify the fundamentals of exercise programming. An exercise program is a personalized fitness plan based on an individual’s medical history, functional capacity, joint range of motion, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, and goals. A rule of thumb is that all programs should cover the following variables:

spring time

  1. Frequency
  2. Intensity
  3. Time (Duration)
  4. Type (Exercise Selection)
  5. Tempo
  6. Volume (Reps/Sets)
  7. Rest
  8. Muscle Activation*

There are a plethora of variables to focus on. The majority of gym members typically increase their frequency, time, and volume with the mindset that more is better to yield the best results. Today, we will place focus on type (exercise selection), tempo, and muscle activation to increase the quality of our program.

The first goal of rejuvenating is to overhaul the bad portions of your exercise program. The foundation of an awesome exercise program is type (exercise selection). A lot of gym members have unnecessary exercises in their programs, and those unnecessary exercises consist of the following characteristics:

  1. Causes pain or discomfort
  2. Poorly isolates the target area
  3. You have a hard time maintaining proper form and compensate
  4. Too many moving parts and complexity

The solution is to go through an assessment/screening process with a fitness professional. After the assessment, address the issues with corrective exercises, targeted stretches, activation work, and proper cueing. If not, better movement patterns for your muscle system will be presented to you.

Once we’ve established exercise selection and proper form, we’ll look to safely increase your muscle activation levels. Muscle activation is the percentage of motor units in muscle fibers that fire correctly. Increased muscle activation levels will have a positive impact on mind-body connection, strength, muscle development, and caloric expenditure. The final variable is tempo, which is the speed which you move during a movement/exercise. Instead of aggressively increasing the load, playing around with tempo could yield surprising results.

people in the gym

Now that we have all three variables in mind. Let’s put everything together and go over a few techniques. The following protocol goes from easy to hard. Here are a few examples using bodyweight squats:

  • Isometrics (Easy)- Position yourself in a perfect squat position. Squat down 5 times and hold the bottom of your squat on the 5th rep for roughly 10 seconds. Repeat 2X-3X depending on your fitness level.
  • Oscillations/Pulsing (Medium)- Squat 5-10 times depending on your fitness level. Hold the last rep on the bottom of your squat. Move up and down 1-2 inches for 10-30 seconds. Make sure you are breathing properly. Once your legs begin to shake, try 5-10 more reps.
  • Tempo Manipulation (Hard) – Squat 5-10 times fast. Right after within the same set, squat 5-10 times slowly. The juxtaposition of fast and slow challenges your neuromuscular system. Your legs will shake and you’ll feel a deep mind-body connection.

I’m confident that these techniques will have a positive impact on your fitness journey this Spring!

Roody Dallemand is a Master Trainer at Crunch Fitness.

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