As gyms get bigger and house an ever-growing inventory of new, overly complicated equipment, it’s no wonder many of us find ourselves wandering aimlessly during workout sessions without managing to make any measurable progress. Luckily, if you’re hoping to get strong for the first time, or feel like you’ve hit a plateau with your strength and conditioning, the answer may be simpler than you think, according to Laura Lee Crabbe.
As a personal trainer and certified nutritionist who works with digital fitness app, Caliber, Crabbe says complicating things can lead to a myriad of mistakes.
Something I’m seeing a lot lately is people following random workouts from social media, thinking they have to change up their workout routine every week to shock their muscles, says Crabbe. I think those posts are great for inspiration, but you don’t need to constantly switch up exercises in your workout routine. There are a lot of fitness tips and routines out there, so it can be really overwhelming knowing where to start and what information to follow or what equipment to use. Sticking to a basic lifting routine with five or six exercises over several weeks is a great way to build consistency and see results.
Keep it simple to build strength
I made a lot of mistakes at the beginning of my fitness journey, as I think many of us do! shares PT, who first fell in love with fitness when he started weight training in 2017. In college, Crabbe suffered from an eating disorder and admits she overtrained, suffering from low self-esteem and anxiety issues . By focusing more on lifting and perfecting her form, she began to feel much more confident, both mentally and physically, and wanted to share in the benefits of strength training, eventually becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Qualified Nutritionist. Crabbe specializes in women’s fitness and is qualified to provide virtual coaching. I was doing too many exercises in one session, not getting enough rest time between sets, and increasing the weight before I had proper form, resulting in a lot of relearning, she says.
Why is it important to think about push and pull movements?
The concept of push and pull is important to keep in mind when you’re exercising because it’s so functional in everyday life, says Crabbe. Pulling a box down from a top shelf in the closet, pushing a heavy door shut, or bending down to pick up something that has fallen; These are
all movements that we use on a daily basis, so it makes sense to practice them in the gym to get stronger and learn proper form. Additionally, by separating the muscle groups for your workout into push and pull movements, you ensure that each muscle group gets the right amount of attention, and this can help correct muscle imbalances, improve posture, and prevent injury.
Pushing movements work the anterior muscles consisting of the chest, triceps, shoulders and quadriceps, while pulling movements work the posterior muscles, which include the back, biceps and hamstrings. When you divide these muscle groups into separate workouts, you can train them day after day while still allowing the other muscles to rest and recover. It’s a way of training that can help you maximize your efficiency in the gym, while also helping you perform these fundamental movements correctly in everyday life. You’ll notice that although Crabbes workouts put a lot of strain on the entire body, they don’t need any special machines. Just a dumbbell, a barbell and a weighted plate.
The PT says he’s been following the principles behind this workout split for about a year and is still bashing PR. His advice? Be realistic with the training plan you set out for yourself, offers Crabbe. If you don’t have much experience with strength training or fitness in general, try starting out in the gym three times a week for 30 minutes a session. Focus on compound movements and core exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Don’t overcomplicate your workouts and don’t do too much at once, or you’ll burn yourself out. Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away. Sustainable progress takes many weeks to form, and you’ll often notice positive changes in your energy levels or mood before you start to see a difference in muscle definition or size.
Crabbe says lifting weights is far more likely to make women look toned and fit than bulky. For me, personally, I love how energetic I feel every day when I’m exercising consistently. But it’s also a way I can take care of my mental health. I know that moving my body helps reduce anxiety and stress and is one of my main forms of self-care. Even heavy lifting is extremely powerful for me. If I can start my day with bench press pressing my own body weight, I know I can tackle anything else that comes my way!
Laura Lee Crabbes Back to Basics Workout Splits
Whether you’re just starting your strength-building journey, or feel like you’ve gone off the rails and need to get your routine back to basics to break a plateau, Crabbe says a simple 3-day split makes a ‘great foundation. Every workout starts with compound movements, which means they work multiple muscle groups at once, he says. Followed by ancillary and isolation exercises. Compound movements should be done at the beginning of a workout, this way you have more energy for those difficult exercises. Perform these workouts consistently over several weeks, focusing on progressive overload, which means you’ll increase the weight or repetitions week to week, as you feel able, to build strength.
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