Most exercises can be categorized into movement patterns: Horizontal Push, Horizontal Pull, Vertical Push, Vertical Pull, Quad Dominant, Hip/Hamstring Dominant.
To be considered a "Full Body" workout it should be comprised of exercises from EVERY movement pattern plus some core work. Using movement patterns to design your workout is the most efficient way to make sure you are training your whole body the right way. If a pattern is missing in a workout, you are failing to train your entire body. If a pattern is consistently missing from your workouts, you are setting yourself up for muscle imbalances and inevitably injury.
For example, If you “push” more than you “pull,” you are setting yourself up for shoulder issues. If you squat like crazy and neglect your hips/hamstrings, you are setting yourself up for knee and lower back pain.
The way to make sure you are doing what you need to train your whole body and prevent injury is to balance all the opposing movement patterns:
The easiest way to do this is to choose one exercise from each of the following categories and then add some core work.
Horizontal Pushing Exercises: involves pushing a weight straight out in front of you so that it’s going away from your torso horizontally (think bench press). Here are some examples:
"There are some rare exceptions to all of the above recommendations, but for most people, most of the time, here’s the moral of this story:
Setting up your weight training routine in a way that ensures there is balance around the joints (shoulder, knee, elbow) and balance between the different movement patterns (horizontal push/pull, vertical push/pull, etc.) is KEY to injury prevention and building a balanced body."
The Ultimate Weight Training Workout Routine. http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/
You will notice that no bicep curls or tricep dips are mentioned above. This is because a good workout starts with compound exercises. For example, chest press is a compound exercise. It primarily works the chest, but also works the shoulders and triceps. A similar story could be told for all the exercises above. As a beginner you should stick with the compound exercises. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about incorporating isolation type exercises like bicep curls, tricep dips, etc.
I use this as a guide to design all of my LRWOC workouts and you can too! Start by choosing one from each category and then add in some core work. Next week, we will focus on the core and incorporating rotational movement to ensure we are working in all planes of motion.
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