LIFE'S HEALTHIER AT THE VILLAGE

15 Exercises for Balanced Athletic Training

By Cody Smargiassi, Personal Trainer at Camelback Village

My name is Cody Smargiassi, and I’m a personal trainer at Camelback Village. The turn of the New Year is a great time to set new health and fitness goals. It can be confusing to know where to start with a new workout routine. I grew up playing hockey and eventually played at both the junior and pro level. While I had a rigorous game and practice schedule, it was important to work on being a well-rounded athlete to avoid injuries that could take me out of the game. Lifting weight is often one of the biggest indicators of fitness, but in my opinion, flexibility, balance, and core stabilization are equally as important. Here are my top 15 exercises that will hit all the major muscle groups of your body as well as ensure you are also working on overall balanced athletic training.

Core

The core is the foundation of the body’s strength and balance. My five favorite core exercises for core stabilization are the dead bug, bird dog, plank, bear plank, and glute bridge. Let’s walk through how to do each exercise.

Dead Bug

Lie on your back. Raise and lower opposite arm and leg at the same time (bending the leg at the knee) while keeping your abdominal muscles engaged.

Bird Dog

The Bird Dog is similar to the dead bug, but you start on all fours placing your hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Raise opposite arm and leg at the same time, keeping your abs engaged. Hold for 10 seconds and then switch sides.

Plank

Begin in a plank position face down on an exercise mat with forearms and toes touching the floor. Engage your abs and hold this position for 15 seconds, then release to the floor. Make sure your body is in a straight line with no sagging or bending at the hips. You can also have your hands on the ground instead of forearms to make this exercise a little easier. As you progress, work up to holding the position for 30-60 seconds.

Bear Plank

This variation of the plank helps strengthen your abs as well as the muscles around your spine. Begin on your hands and knees with your toes on the floor. Press into the ground, engage your glutes and abs, and lift your knees about 1 inch off the ground. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Increase the time as your gain more strength.

Glute Bridge

Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Your arms should be extended down beside your body with palms pressing into the floor.  Push your hips up while being sure to keep your knees over your toes through the entire movement. Sink your hips back to the ground.

Legs

Next let’s move into my five favorite leg exercises: resistance band forward/side-walks, deficit lunges, slant board squats, stationary lunge hold, and walking lunges.

Resistance band forward/side-walks

One of the best warmups you can do for a leg-focused workout is to grab a resistance band. Wrap the band around your legs either at the ankle or right above or below your knees. The higher you put the band on your leg the easier this exercise is and vice versa. Keep your feet shoulder width apart to maintain the resistance as you walk forward, backward, and side to side.

Deficit Lunge

In my opinion, the deficit lunge is one of the most underrated exercises. It is great to incorporate into your routine because it targets all your lower body muscles and helps the knees. It is also hands down the best glute builder. To do a deficit lunge, you will want to start with your front leg elevated on a small box or platform – just a few inches is a good start. Step back with your other leg into a lunge position so that both knees are at 90-degree angles. Feel free to add some dumbbells in your hands for an extra challenge!

Slant board squats will bulletproof those knees and build the quads. Just be sure to stretch your quads when you finish the workout to avoid stress on your knees. To do this exercise you will need to find a slant board at the gym. If you cannot find one, you can also set a weight plate down against the weightlifting platform to create the same angle. Step onto the board and squat as you normally would. Again, you can add extra weight here for an added challenge!

Stationary Lunge Hold

Get into a lunge position and hold for 2-3 sets of 30 seconds each side. I would recommend adding some weight with a kettlebell or dumbbell if you want to increase the intensity of this exercise.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a great exercise to work your quads. Just promise you won’t be mad if its hard to walk tomorrow! Starting in a standing position, lunge forward until both legs are at 90-degree angles. Step forward into a standing position again. Next step forward with the other leg. Continue walking forward while lunging for about 10 reps on each leg.

Upper Body

Now, let’s focus on the upper body. My five favorite upper body exercises are the single arm landmine press, double arm landmine press, bench press, pull ups, and the KB carry variations such as farmers walks. I like to focus on incorporating athletic stance with my upper body movements. With an athletic stance you’ll get more stability and be more aware of your actual movement pattern. To get into an athletic stance, you should be standing with feet about hip distance apart, your ankles angled forward so your weight is in the ball of your foot, and you should be squatting down so that your hips are at about a 90-degree angle as well.

Single Arm Landmine Press

For this exercise you will need to put some weight onto the landmine bar. Next get into your athletic stance with the barbell in one hand and your other hand on your ribcage. Take a deep breath and press your arm out by extending the elbow and flexing the shoulder. Lower the barbell back to the starting position and repeat 8-10 times per arm.

Double Arm Landmine Press

This exercise is very similar to the single arm landmine press. Instead of using one arm, you will position the bar in the middle of your body and use both arms to push the bar from your chest up and out.

Bench Press

Bench press is one of the most popular exercises at the gym – and for good reason! Once you master your form, you will see quick progress on all muscle groups of your upper body. If you do not have the strength to lift the bar yet, you can use two dumbbells instead. Lay on the bench with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Bring the bar down to your chest slowly and breathe in. Breathe out and push the bar up until your arms are fully extended. Repeat the movement for your desired number of reps.

Pull Ups

Bench press is one of the most popular exercises at the gym – and for good reason! Once you master your form, you will see quick progress on all muscle groups of your upper body. If you do not have the strength to lift the bar yet, you can use two dumbbells instead. Lay on the bench with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Bring the bar down to your chest slowly and breathe in. Breathe out and push the bar up until your arms are fully extended. Repeat the movement for your desired number of reps.

Farmer's Walk

The farmer’s walk is a very simple exercise that will help increase your upper body and grip strength. Select two kettle bells and hold one in each hand with arms completely straight at your sides. All you have to do is walk while holding that weight! It sounds easy, but you will start to feel the weight fast.

Cody Smargiassi

I hope you enjoyed these exercise ideas and incorporate them into your workouts into the new year. If you have any questions or are interested in training, I’ll be at Camelback Village, feel free to say hi! Cheers, Cody.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *