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Creating a Balanced Workout Routine

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Hi everyone,

These days I’m not big into ranting, but today I feel a little bubbling annoyance about something I keep seeing again and again.  Fear not, I have learned from my past and will take a more mellow approach this time…

If there is one thing that irks me more and more, it is seeing fitness “professionals” prescribing “Full Body” Workouts that, to me, appear to have had very little thought put into its design!   Yes, you want to create an intense, fun workout, but you also want it to be benefiting the person and helping them to move in ways that won’t compound existing imbalances from modern day life –> typically these are: weak glutes, low back and/or knee aches, weak cores, instability, hip immobility and poor scapular retraction to name a few.   

Let me give you a couple of examples of the types of things I see in these other workouts:  All upper body exercises are pushing exercises, zero hip dominant exercises, no actual glute, hamstring or proper core work, no pulling exercises at all, far too much attention paid to isolation exercises, and WAY too many crunches! … the list is quite long, but you hopefully get the picture.  In a world where everything is dominated by the Anterior Chain (the front of the body), I am on a mission to get people aware of their posterior ;)  And I’m not just talking about Get Glutes!

I’m not saying that my workouts are perfect, but I always set out to help improve people’s movement patterns by promoting balance between certain elements of training and it’s not my sole purpose just to get you to sweat … I want you to get good at the best movements along with getting fitter. I’m not sure why some other trainers fail to do this – perhaps they themselves have not learned the importance of including them.  Regardless of the reasons, I want to outline what a balanced workout should look like, or show you what to at least aim for your weekly plan to include, so you can then make an informed decision about whether someone else is offering quality workouts or not.    

For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on the Full Body Workout, but remember to always apply the same principles to any workout –> you are looking for balance between muscle groups and/movement patterns.

Full body workouts are the bee’s knees if you ask me; you can get more calories burned and you can move your body as a whole. I often apply the same “rules” to both my strength and conditioning workout designs because I see them complimenting each other. There may be some people who have different conditioning/strength goals than just general fitness, so I will leave it up to them to seek a tailored program to follow.  For the purposes of the general population (and even me), this is the template I recommend.

When I am putting together my home workouts, I have a system that I go through. Before I even decide on the style of the workout, I already have an idea of the exercises that I’ll include.  Each exercise falls under a certain category and in most of your workouts, you should try to pick one from each category.  

The categories and example exercises are:

Knee Dominant Exercises: Squats, Lunges, Stand-Kneel-Stand, Pistol, Dynamic Squat etc

Hip Dominant Exercises: Single-Leg Deadlift, Swings, Good-Mornings, Vertical Pull

Upper Body Pulling Exercises: Inverted Row, Single Arm Row, Renegade Row, Pull Ups etc

Upper Body Pushing Exercises: Push Up, Military Press, Push Press, Plank Climber (combo), Burpee (can be used here too)

Core Exercises: Plank, Side Plank, Reverse Crunch, Diagonal Knee Tuck, Plank Jacks, Mountain Climbers etc

Other Additions

Bridging Exercises: Glute Bridges, Hip Thrusts, Stability Ball Leg Curl etc

Accessory Exercises (these are great to add in once or twice a week to strengthen other planes of movement): Rotational Band Exercises, Band Abductions, Lateral Lunges, Skater Hops, Rotational or Jefferson Deadlifts etc

 

 Many times I will see other workouts made entirely out of Plyometric (explosive) or “Cardio” type exercises.  This won’t get you the most bang for your buck, no matter what your training goals are … and you will likely acquire a joint injury along the way with all that jumping around, especially if you are a beginner or intermediate trainee (which most people are). What I have learned is, when designing a Conditioning Workout, you only need 2 or maybe 3 exercises tops that are classed as “explosive” or Cardio (and I often include the KB Swinging movements as one of them).  Utilizing interval training or minimal rest periods, regardless of the exercises you choose, will allow you to build enough intensity through the entire workout while also getting a balanced training session for all the major movement patterns.

Another great advantage of doing this is that while you may not be using heavy weights during your conditioning workouts, simply because you are practicing the same movement patterns that are important in your strength sessions, you improve your form, your mobility, your speed and ultimately you stay strong at the movement, which is half the battle – and your joints stay healthy.  

People often ask me why the exercises I choose are mostly the same.  Well, I have seen the great results that these types of exercises brought to my own life and my clients’ (you see, I actually train clients and I happen to know the more complex and fast-paced the exercise is, the more likely someone will screw it up and get injured … why do you think I rarely include Snatches in my workouts … okay, other than the fact that they are MY Nemesis ;) ).   

Keep things simple and become a master of the basics!  

 

  •  If you are someone who has been stuck doing workouts that focus way too much on the Knee Dominant, Upper Body Pushing Exercises and hundreds of Crunches, then I would advise you to perform more exercises from the other categories (maybe a ratio of 2 pulling exercises : 1 pushing exercise and 2 hip and/or Bridging exercises for every knee dominant exercise) for the next 6-8 weeks to try to redress the balance.  Still do the other exercises, but add more of the Posterior Chain exercises and see how much better your over all performance becomes.  
I hope this article helps you in putting together your own workouts and judging other workouts better.  Please leave you feedback below.
Cheers,
Marianne
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69 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    Wow – I’m not a trainer but I’ve worked out with one for years that is AWESOME and applies the same principles you do. I see SO MANY TRAINERS in the gym doing horrible things to their clients’ bodies… It’s so awful and makes me think the personal training industry is such a joke. Why is it so slack? We’re talking about people’s health!! This is such a great article. I’m going to be bookmarking it for reference and sharing it on my blog and facebook page. Thanks!

    • Marianne says:

      Thank, Jen. Appreciate the share :)

    • Paul says:

      Hi Marianne,

      Just a quick one… where in the categories you mention, does the barbell deadlift fit in?…. (in general, I think the lower body exercises is not that easy to categorise…)

      I really like your approach for creating a well balanced workout, and I think the deadlift is one of the essential lifts… I would just like to understand where it fits in, is it just in the “Hip-Dominant” category??

      And last, the bridging exercises, such as hipthrust/glutebridge, is that a category of their own?…. ie. how much focus should be on incorporating these on a regular basis in a balanced program?

      Thanks again for posting stuff like this, super good information.

      • Marianne says:

        Hey Paul, thanks for your questions:

        Deadlifts are Hip Dominant, but certain variations (like Trap Bar, Jefferson) have more of an even balance between hip and knee involvement.

        The Bridging section is one on its own because of the position you are in. It loads the posterior chain differently and I think it should be included as part of a balance workout, or at least at some point during your weekly program.

        Hope this helps :)

  2. Amelia says:

    I have just started KB’s about 3 weeks ago. I am only using a 10 lb right now, I have never done anything like it so I’m being a little careful. I’m just wondering if I will see any progress from using such a light weight. Should I use a heavier one? I’m taking your advice and sticking with the circuit for about 6 weeks, but I really want to get the most out of what i’m doing and eventually tone up and get stronger. Any advice would be appreciated. I think you are great and so inspirational. :)

    • Marianne says:

      Have patience and get good at the exercises before increasing the weight. If your form is solid with the lighter weight, then begin to use a heavier one. You should be able to progress quite soon to 8kg and 12kg :) But form is the most important thing. You won’t make good progress if you sacrifice form for weight :)

      • Amelia says:

        Thank you so much Marianne
        I tried working out with a 15 lb today and it went well. I feel a little more sore then usual but I feel good about moving up in weight a bit.
        Thank you for posting all these articles and videos. They are very helpful! :)

        • Nicola Burgess says:

          Hi Marianne. I would love to do more plank type exercises and renegade rows etc but Im having problems with my shoulder and it is hindering me from doing push-ups, bench presses etc. Im fine with pull-ups (assisted) and shoulder presses but the other exercises are giving me some problems in my shoulder which affect me in gaining strength and better performance. I think I am going to see a physio or a PT who knows about sports injuries. Also I tried squats with a 20kg kettlebell last week and although I dont know for sure if this is what injured me, two days later I had pain in my back and ribs. I’m guessing it was mt trasverse abdominals that had been stressed. I can use 8kg dumbells for lunges but dont get hurt doing these, so Im not confident that squats are good for me. (I’ve had issues with trational squats for over 10 years as they hurt my back so i do ther squat type exercises instead).

          Nicola

  3. [...] in the same way as you would Create a Balanced Workout, I advise you to first select the important movement patterns (in various directions of movement) [...]

  4. [...] and have a sound foundation of knowledge about how people SHOULD move.  You need to know how to create a Balanced Workout and Program, tailoring it to their needs and ability, rather than what ever you fancy trying that [...]

  5. Renee Leitao says:

    Hi Marrianne,

    I can guess being as fabulous as you are, you are very busy. If you get a minute some time, I would ask if you could check my “swing”. I have used you, and Steve Cotter as guides. I think your better:) I still don’t have sufficient Kettle weight at home for my videos, but I do have at the gym. I am ACE certified PT since 2003, but have only been learning Kettle Bells for 6 months or so. I put up a video a couple of weeks ago with the word Swing in the title. It was something like “Lunge, Hop, Twist, Push, and Swing.” I swing a couple of Gallon water jugs, as I don’t want to swing anything too heavy unless I am sure I am doing it right. I watch Trainers, and others at the gym showing people how to Swing, and I am a bit horrified, as all I see is people squatting then standing, and swing-lifting kettle bell. I tell people that there is no squatting involved, and that they should be trying to keep back straight, Hinge at the hips thrusting power from the legs, glutes and hips. I have noticed that you do not look forward while swinging, and keep your neck, and head directly in line with your back. I’m working on that:) My channel is very rudimentary. It is, insanefitathome. Don’t crush me too hard:) As I said, kettles are new to me.

    • Renee Leitao says:

      I forgot to say that I usually tell people that the knees bend in accord with the hinging of the hips. Sort of, because the hips are hinging, thrusting, the knees bend, and not because you are deliberately trying to squat. That is what I mean when I say there is no “squatting” involved.

      • Renee Leitao says:

        Hi Marianne, I have come to this site a couple of times in the last couple days to re-read your comments about Full Body workouts. I have become progressively more insecure about the fact that my videos are supposed to be able to show people that they need almost no equipment, just their own body weight to get a great workout. I do provide modifications for complete beginners, and people with other issues in separate videos. I see clearly now that I have to add some equipment on a regular basis that allows for more Pulling exercises. This range of motion is Hard to get with only body weight. thank you for your attention to this matter.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Rene,

      It’s really hard to see your swing form properly from the front view. From there, it looks like you are using more low back, but I can’t tell for sure. You’re not squatting, but when your hips are fully extended, it appears that your back continues to extend. Just stop when your hips are fully forward and no more :) You should get a KB for a better effect.

      Hope this helps.

      • Renee Leitao says:

        Thank you very much:)I’ve been practicing at the gym with 35 pound KB. Is quite a workout.Tore up my glutes doing those 1 arm 1 leg dead lifts with 30 pounds KB. You are one tuft cookie:)On a mission to get glutes! I’ve got all the trainers at work,( the gym I work at) thinking of “pulling” body weight exercises. We are doing a lot of partner stuff. Using your partner as resistance. I love your channel. I haven’t been interested in any other Fitness professionals since Zuzana. I never watch BR since she has gone, but follow her on the new channel. You are my only other REAL training expert on youtube that I follow.

    • Isalia says:

      Thank you Marianne for this post – it makes so much sense to me. I am one of the many who left br when z did but don’t follow either any longer because I have progressed and need a much juicer workout.

      I feel reassured that you actually train people for a living ‘in real life’ as well as via the internet. There are so many ‘trainers’ who post videos that don’t have actual experience with working in a gym etc that have a huge following. Some of the workouts are very creative but also too complicated. Does going to a gym regularly or once working in a circus make for an experienced trainer that knows what they are talking about when it comes to training others? – not really all that comforting when you write it out! Thats why the simplicity and focus on form and the way you combine exercises to get a fully balanced strength cardio workout is, for me, is perfect.

      I am alternating your workouts with vinyasa yoga – so it goes something like this (am hoping this is enough to lose the last bit of jiggle – am about 3kg away from ideal weight) Do you think I need to add in 1 more of your workouts a week?

      monday – marianne workout
      tuesday – yoga
      wednesday – rest
      thursday – marianne workouts
      friday – yoga
      saturday – long walk with the dogs
      sunday – rest

      Anyway, I am really excited to have found your workouts and to see what happens over the next few months so thank you :)

  6. Serena says:

    Hi Marianne, love your work, and i’m a fan of your workouts. This is a timely article of yours, as I was wondering if i should be doing more than my kettlebell workouts. my question is, is kettlebell workouts alone enough to get good strength workouts, or should you still include gym workouts with heavier weights/spotting etc? i know someone who does kettlebells but she also goes to the gym and does Olympic lifting as part of her strength work. Or, is it sufficient doing just kettlebells, and mixing up the high intensity work with the strength work? I have young kids so am very happy to be able to do my home kettlebell workouts. my sport is outrigger canoeing, so i feel kettlebell work has really helped. i have tendonitis in one arm, so while i love for example the renegade row, its a problem, and also i steer away from the snatches. I was just wondering also, as I note your workouts dont really include windmills or turkish getups, just wondered if there was a reason for this?
    appreciate your feedback and love your site

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Serena,

      Thanks for reaching out. To build functional strength you need 3 things: Good technique, a balanced program, and progressive overload. No matter if you train only with KBs or in the gym, if you never increase the weight you use, you will never get stronger past a certain point. Yes, there are ways to play about with the method you use, but if you are at home and you only ever press a 12kg Kettlebell, or swing a 16kg, you are unlikely to see progression. Unless you have a bunch of money, and you can buy loads of weights, the gym is the best option to grow in strength.

      I include 2-3 heavy lifting days in the gym because I love it and I like to train around other people. If I didn’t enjoy these things, or my other commitments didn’t allow it, then I could progress my training at home.

      Regarding the TGUs and Windmills – It’s not that I don’t see the value in those movements, but I just never think about them. What happens in the fitness industry, is that people see KB training and expect to see certain exercises – yet these exercises can also be done with DBs or a BB. I guess I just don’t see them as essential :-/ Plus, TGUs, Windmills and Snatches are often done so poorly that I would be reluctant to encourage people to do them, without proper training. I also think that what is achieved in these “higher risk” exercises, can be achieved using the types of exercises I include. I also find TGUs extremely boring LOL :D

      Hope this helps :)

      • Serena says:

        Excellent thanks Marianne, that makes sense, and yes i have invested in a set of kettlebells, up to 20kg (which i initially bought hoping my husband would get into it, but now find i am using them myself), so in my strength sessions I try to progressively work with heavier weights thru the exercises, so thats good to know i’m on the right track, and will continue happily with my home kettlebell workouts. such awesome function fitness. i just did your Booty making home workout yesterday, damn! that was a good hard workout, sure feeling that one!
        and i have to agree i find TGUs very boring too;)
        thanks again for your awesome feedback

  7. [...] Creating a Balanced Workout Routine by Marianne Kane [...]

  8. Neda Ramezankhani says:

    Hi, I just came across your site. I’m so glad… Finally someone on the net who knows what she’s doing and talking about. I love how you’re all about balance, form and correct muscle activation. There are so many train wreck websites suck as BR that are so popular and to me that’s mind boggling.
    Thank you for this site.

    • Marianne says:

      Hey Neda,

      Thank you for leaving your feedback. I can recommend several others who know what they are talking about and who actually want to teach people good information. Not that you’ll get board of me, but I think it’s good to see other styles too :) Check out Nia Shanks, Kellie Davis, Bret Contreras, Girls Gone Strong, and Inspired Fit Strong. Put them on your blog list, check out any videos they have and share :D

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Marianne,

        loved your reply. And I look forward to the article about super-short high-intensity workouts (often advertised in other sites) and long-term results. Perhaps if trainers who know what they are doing start “spreading the news” some people (at least some) will eventually open their eyes and realise that some “trainers” are simply trying to make a lot of money out of people’s disinformation.

        Cheers
        Sarah

  9. Tammy says:

    I am so thrilled to have found your website (found you on youtube initially). You are tremendously inspiring and I am very excited to try the beginner workout you created for your mom. I am carrying excess weight, sit at a desk for 8 – 12 hours per day, have a very weak core an exteremly tight hips/glutes, etc. Not good.

    The information here on your site is exactly what I was looking for and I think I may sign up for one of your training sessions that include skype (I’m in Canada).

    I am in awe of your strength. Watching your recent intense workout where you did a number of sets of pull ups was inspiring.

    Thank you for creating this site and sharing your knowledge with us.

    Tammy

  10. [...] Creating a Balanced Workout Routine by Marianne Kane [...]

  11. Paul says:

    Really great article, have been following you for quite some time, and it’s where I get both inspiration, but also learn a lot about correct form and training programming.

    Just one question though, I saw your comments about kettlebell snatch, being maybe the reason for injuries for some…

    I have no problems with the KB snatch exercise, but my wife often gets shoulder problems when she tries to bring in snatches in her program. But clean/press/swing give no problems.

    Just wondering if you can suggest an alternative exercise / exercises, that will bring some of the same training results as the KB snatch? (using either KB, dumbb, or barbell)

    Regards
    Paul.

    • Marianne says:

      Paul, I would have her stick to the clean and press, push press and sing swing. No need to try and mimic the snatch. In addition have her do some supplementary work for shoulder stability (overhead carries, TGUs and Windmills). Over time, her shoulder issue might improve. Is this only on one side? Is it her dominant side?

      • Paul says:

        Hi Marianne,

        She has a history of poor flexibility in both shoulders, but this has improved a lot after starting with KB training. She has now avoided snatches for almost a year, and has become so much stronger in back and shoulder.

        So I was just thinking that maybe it was not a good idea at all to take up snatches again, if it is after all not a really essential exercise?

        After starting with KB training, getting inspiration from your site :-) we also added more barbell lifts, like squat, deadlift, overhead press… to get some more load, and also to have more stability, even though unilateral is good, then I feel the barbell lift is more safe, than one arm KB lift, at least if you worry about your shoulder.

        As I understand you, the snatch is not a mandatory exercise, to get strong in all areas, it’s just to keep up with other exercises.

        Best Regards,
        Paul

        • Marianne says:

          Paul, my personal feeling on exercises like the snatch, is that they become associated with KB training to the point that people feel they NEED to to them, if they are doing KB training. Yet there is no way I would expect or encourage my clients to do them! Most of my clients NEED to move better at the basics first, and sort out their shoulder and hip health before utilising an advanced power exercise such as the snatch. You may get more bang for your buck performing the snatch over two separate exercises, but ONLY if you have great technique. Great technique does not always come from practicing the lift, but by ironing out the issues that cause the poor form – like your wife’s shoulder issue. If you feel these things are much better, and you are looking for a change of pace in her program, then introduce the snatch gradually and perhaps start out with half snatches (snatch up, press down). Even program a 5 second pause at the top lock-out to try to improve the shoulder stability at that point.

          I never do the snatch and I have little desire to include it. Mainly because if people see me doing it here in my workouts, anyone and everyone will be trying to do it too and most of the population will not have healthy enough shoulders, backs, hips etc to perform it correctly. Even I struggle with aspects of it still :-/

          Hope that helps. All I want to do is preserve your wife’s training life as long as possible :)

  12. cheese_Berg says:

    You listed a squat as a knee dominate. DO you mean Olympic squats and front squats? if the trainee first hinges at the knee wont it become a more quad dominate exercise with the possibility of rounding the back?

    • Marianne says:

      Regardless of whether the squat is a front squat or low bar back squat, it will still be more quad dominant (however the low bar “sitting back” technique uses the hips more than the other variations). The issue of low back rounding is often caused by other factors; inadequate ankle or hip mobility, lack of core stability etc.

      Regardless of the squat type, the sequence should always initiate at the hips. Sit the hips back, then bend at the knee. Bending the knee first causes the weight to shift forward. The term “quad or knee dominant” refers to which joint/muscle does the most work. This is not the same as saying that the hips are not involved at all.

      I hope this helps.

  13. Mickela says:

    I like this article a lot, this is one that I know I will return to when I feel overwhelmed by all the appearance based garbage that social media is churning out for hits.

    I think that is why I went underground for a bit and decided to focus on yoga to get centered again instead of being force fed vanity or insecurity based workouts.
    I enjoy your down to earth approach, it is refreshing I still use your workouts (with results) with some variations (those evil stand kneel stands grrr)I still learn from you and your colleagues and I really appreciate that you spend so much of your time sharing what you love.

    Thank you

    • Marianne says:

      I totally agree that the Social media makes things worse sometimes. I know sometimes when I look at my own best photos that I feel a little annoyed that I don’t look that way all the time LOL! Mind games! The right lighting does wonders!

    • Sarah says:

      Beautiful post, Mickela. I totally agree with you. “Appearance-based garbage that social media is churning out for hits” is a great way of putting things.

      Sarah

  14. Timea says:

    Thank you for this great article, I have found it very enlightening and refreshing!

    There are lots of freely available health and fitness resources on the Internet. Never has it been easier to tap into these type of resources and get advice on how to shape up, lose weight, eat properly etc. And perhaps this is also the danger of it – there is little regulation or censorship about what goes out.

    I was shocked to see the video you have recently posted on your Facebook site about Gold’s Gym kettlebell workout, which just shows that even well known names/chains that people generally perceive as trustworthy can post material which leaves a lot to be scrutinised.

    I think a lot of “fitness gurus” such as the ones Emily has alluded to in her comment above have genuinely good intentions, have helped lots of people grow in self confidence and lose weight, but of course this does not exempt them from presenting material which is professionally acceptable. I think the lesson we have here is that we need to exercise MINDFULLY, make an effort to understand the what’s and why’s, rather than just blindly follow and accept what we are fed.

    In health and happiness :-)
    Timea

    • Marianne says:

      I agree with you, Timea. Thank you for leaving your thoughts. I too was horrified at that video of KBs in Gold’s Gym!! I agree with the girl who commented about not giving it more views by sharing bad examples. This is why I did not mention any of those bad examples here. I only want to praise people who do a good job.

      Unfortunately many Gurus only care about how they look and how much people admire them. And they isolate themselves from the greater fitness community because they need the limelight and they are probably afraid that their lack of knowledge and experience will start to show if they are stacked against the rest. They need to have some “special” system, or set of exercises that make them unique and give them a selling point. Instead of the system reflecting the actual needs of the audience, it only serves only to help them stand apart as some sort of expert. I think it is greed! And I wish other professionals who try to act like a united front for promoting the basics of a balanced exercise regime, or at least refer their viewers to someone who can help them with their specific question, instead of ignoring it. If their intentions were 100% good, then they would want to help those people too.

      *btw, I don’t mean this to come across like I am having a go at you :)

      Anyone who sets out to help people and have those great intentions should be seeking more knowledge and understanding. IMO, they should be looking deeper into learning more and realise the lives they can change if they’d only think past what looks good (or how good they look). There are always great studies being done and always amazing, experienced coaches (like Steve Cotter, Dan John, Bret Contreras, Tony Gentilcore, Eric Cressey and many more) to learn from –> they too give away tons of free information which should be utilised by exercise professionals who have a hunger to teach people. If I had the audience a certain Guru does, I’d hope I’d recognise the unique opportunity I had to deliver great, accurate, life-changing information to people who otherwise do not have access to it. I see myself as a middle-man whose job is spreading the best info (and hopefully fun), balanced workouts to a more mainstream audience. After being in the same sort of online community as some of these “other” trainers for less total time, I can’t understand why they have not even tried to teach people something as essential as the hip hinge!! *sigh*

      I was told once that people who spend their time studying the best training methods and perfecting their ability as a trainer are nearly always less well known. The ones who are well known, spend their time learning how to market themselves. If there was some way fitness sites were assessed and regulated, I’m sure this would slowly change.

      In the mean time, let’s keep spreading the good stuff and help people inject some balance into their training … one row at a time ;)

  15. Melly says:

    This is why I appreciate you and your site, Marianne. Thank you for opening up this discussion, but also for laying down the foundation and doing so ethically. I really appreciate reading through the comments too, as you have built quite a community here.
    Little did I know when I turned toward exercise what I was getting myself into. Initially, I wanted to look a certain way, but then, through reading here, (GGS, Bret, Kellie), in addition to consistently working out, I am coming to the belief that it is better to feel good in my body, to feel my glutes ‘firing’ when I walk through the city, and to experience the balance of a full body workout in action than to look a certain way.
    I know that with time and focus I will also come to ‘look a certain way’, but I have come at this without previous knowledge or fitness perspective. So having balanced full body workouts is really important.
    Thank you for taking the time to talk about balance in workout design.

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you, Melly for your feedback on this. I think you are a great example of being “converted” to exercise and then from the other type of workouts to these designs. Plus I have personally designed programs for you, which I know are working really well for your goals! Not only are you stronger, but the other lovely side-effects have started to kick in :)

      • Melly says:

        I did learn a lot from an ‘Imbalanced Guru’, mostly about perspective and commitment, and I found you through them too, thankfully. I would much rather work with your help than put my body in danger of getting hurt and needing to spend months correcting the problem.

  16. thekirvel says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge, Marianne! Can I ask a question? I have a tendency to stick to the same exercises, the ones that I am most familiar with and which I feel sure that I can do with good form. Do you think that is ok as long as I have a balanced program, or is it important to change them from time to time? I make variations by increasing reps or using heavier weights, but is that enough variation? I have learned many new exercises from you, Bret and Kellie which I also use from time to time, but mostly I do those basic exercises again and again. I think I feel more safe and comfortable when I’m sure I’m doing them correctly. It is not as I am doing exactly the same thing in every workout, but I have two or three programs which I alternate between. Mostly I do swings, squats, deadlifts, inverted rows, single arm rows, push press, plank jacks, glute bridges, hip thrusts. Do you think that is variation enough? Kind regards, Kirsten

    • Marianne says:

      Great question, Kirsten.

      It is just fine to stick with these exercises, but you could vary them through the week like this (using the knee dominant exercise as an example):

      One day you do: Goblet Squat
      The next day you train do reverse lunges
      Then the next time you train do Bulgarian Split squat, or some sort of lateral movement, like Lateral Lunge, Curtsy Lunge etc.

      Same with the other exercises. This means you are not doing the squat every day, but you are working your quads in different ways.

      For the Hip Dominant exercises you can usually get away with doing the swing PLUS another, like the single leg RDL or the suitcase DL (although I class it as a hybrid between knee dominant and hip dominant).

      The main thing is that you are still progressing in your performance at these lifts. My program rarely strays from the basics either.

      Hope this helps :)

  17. TS says:

    Totally right. I’ve stopped doing the workouts from fitness gurus I’ve seen in the past because they were really imbalanced. I’ve always balanced them myself by adding swings and inverted rows, but it got annoying modifying the workouts ALL THE TIME. I’ve never had to modify any of yours (except to make them easier by decreasing the time…:-P ). But I’m fortunate in that I was a certified instructor, so I knew what to look out for in a balanced workout. If I weren’t, then I would have probably kept following the person because, well, she looks awesome (genes and diet are helpful). I have no idea how I stumbled upon your site, but I was glad I did.

    You’re doing good work, and posts/rants like this are essential because sometimes people forget that even if something looks like a good workout, that it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks, TS. If only 10-20 mins each day was enough to keep us all in amazing shape … I’d be out of a job! But THAT is another article all together … “The Difference Between Training for Progression vs Maintenance” –> another thing that needs an injection of reality.

      • Sarah says:

        Please Marianne,

        sounds like another great subject. I can’t wait to read your opinion on this too, so I look forward to your next article.

        Cheers
        Sarah

  18. vickeh says:

    Hi I love your blog and am just starting in my fitness journey, after loosing 4st for health reasons, I discovered also kettlercise dvd as a full body programme and am doing that twice a week i must say it is very enjoyable what is your opinion on kettlercise? Also not related to this but can you use the reebok deck for box squats? And can you reccomend a barbell set for me to invest in? Sorry for all the questions hope you reply
    Keep up the great work you are a true inspiration and generous I think your brilliant thank you and glad i found your site.

    Vickeh

    • Marianne says:

      Vickeh,

      Well done for your weight loss – that’s awesome!

      Actually, the Kettercise program doesn’t seem that bad. I haven’t got the product, so I can’t say for sure, but a quick search on YouTube showed me an example and it’s better than I expected. For things like this, as long as you are taught good form, have all the above components, and progress the weight when appropriate, then I don’t have a problem with the system. And if it helps someone get into KBs, gets them moving better, and helps them burn the fat they want rid of, then I can only be a good thing :)

      I got the Reebok Deck in Argos :) But I also have them listed in my Amazon Store. And, yes, you can use it very nicely for box squats. I have used it myself and with clients for this.

      As for a Barbell set, I would say to check out Gumtree for anyone looking rid of BBs, but I’m not sure if you are wanting the pre-loaded type, or the 6-7ft Olympic Bar? You might find these on Amazon, E-Bay or even Wolverson-Fitness. It depends on how much room you have, and whether you want to buy a bunch of plates too. The pre-loaded ones are shorter and will look nicer, but the olympic weights allow for more scope in the future as you progress.

      Hope this helps :)

  19. iddle-itis says:

    Nail on de head girl!!! its the whole learn to walk before you can run of working out.if you can’t do the simple things you’ll more than likely buckle under the more difficulty exercises.your workouts have done wonders for my body and mind,reduced my aches and pains and made living a active life much more enjoyable.stronger and flexible muscles relieve my joints and get my body working the way it’s suppose to.I really appreciate the effort you put into bringing well balanced workouts and informed instruction on your blog.its a jungle out there!!keep spreading the word-the good stuff will always win over in the end.keep strong x

  20. Sarah Partridge says:

    Morning Marianne,

    Yesterday I had a conversation with a lady on Facebook who I know is a ad dieter. I have seen her use every fad diet disguised as a detox she can find for the past two months. She was asking me about Fasting and how it worked and the question I know is the only one she really wanted to hear the answer for. “How much weight have you lost so far doing it?” Well if she had been listening to me for the whole conversation she would have know I hadn’t started and I had only just finished researching it and happy with what I had found and that it wasn’t about the number on the scale for me it is about how I feel in my body and how my body functions.

    The conversation then turned to workouts and she asked about my routine. I know she is following a popular program by a well respected member of the fitness industry and I tried to ask her if her program, which is heavily based on body building and is divided into push/pull days and arm/leg/back/shoulder days with cardio and abs every day, was achieving her goals. She told me she did it as the program said and she was losing weight when she eat right. I asked if her only goal in fitness and in clean eating was for the number of the scale to go down. She said yes. It took her a while but she eventually asked why I was changing my lifestyle if not wight loss. My answer was Functional Fitness and to Bomb proof my body. I know I started to lose her front hat point. I explained that her program was about looking good but it was a lot of work when you can achieve the same results, and also have much bigger impacts on your functionality and your strength using routines like the ones on myomytv.com I honestly think she tried to understand but it was beyond her. To hit her with not having the 6 small meals and then to do full body routines. compound moves at the gym and to not run eat day was making her either one of two things; afraid that everything she knew was not how everyone did it and there was another way to achieve goals or too scared of changing the way she looked at things because she had her belief and even though it wasn’t working for her now, it had worked for others and she knew that so she must just keep at it. I left her with the final question, So when the scale tells you the right number, what is you goal then? Why not throw away the gym gear and celebrate right? I hope she at least thinks about her approach.

    Your article was timely as it backed up what I have been trying to persuade people of for a while now. My brother is now a kettlebell nut. One down, while his fiancé is sticking to the old school cardio, weights, cardio, weight. Each to their own I guess but he has gone from fat couch potato to an extremely cut and fit man in 6 months, who performs better in all aspects of his life and other sports/ hobbies while to me, she looks the same and still has a weak back, core and high percentages of body fat.

    A long winded way of saying thank you for your advice, your rants, you ramblings in your videos (some of us listen) and for your commitment to improving the fitness industries approaches.

    Sarah

    • Marianne says:

      You did well to be patient with her. I think your question at the end is a very important one for her to face – let’s hope she thinks about it.

      Thank you for your long-winded thank you :D Makes me feel less bad about all my chatter ;)

    • squirrel says:

      Well done, Sarah. I often ask myself, why people only work out for fat loss. Why don’t they notice, that physical strength improves mental strength, too? And where the heck is the fun part?

      Thank you for this post, Marianne, very timely for me. I was thinking about researching a list with exercise categories – and whoop, there it is :)

      • Mickela says:

        I think if you are overweight then working out and eating right is a great step towards being healthy.
        What I have noticed though is that people are obsessed with looking lean at all costs.
        Social media in many ways has made this even more of a problem because cameras make people look bigger, then you start getting a twisted idea of what one should look like. Pictures are not about how you feel or how comfortable you are in your skin and muscles. I say keep it simple and take small steps.

  21. Sarah says:

    Hi Marianne,

    you already know what I think of this: great, great, great.

    Cheers
    Sarah

  22. Kellie Davis says:

    Much of the programming you see in gyms is based off traditional bodybuilder methods. Heck, when I first started training that’s what I did because that’s what I saw around me. For years, my workout week was a day for quads, hams and glutes, back and biceps, shoulders and triceps, and chest. This is pretty typical and you would hope that the personal trainer would change this. But it doesn’t happen.

    It’s unfortunate that in the fitness industry one only has to educate himself enough to get in the door. For some, it stops there. Then their are those of us who will continually grow in knowledge, experience, and expand upon our base of skills. That’s just how it’s going to be. That’s how it is in many industries.

    I experienced the same thing as a teacher, working in offices, and pretty much every other arena I’ve dipped my toes into. There are those with passion and those who just want the paycheck. Hopefully those of us with pure passion will continue to reach out and spread our knowledge to the world. And continue to do so as we learn more and more.

    Thanks for sharing. Sadly, I do feel I’ve become numb to the feelings you’ve expressed here– but I shouldn’t be. I should continue to voice up and keep the dialogue going.

    xoxo

    • Kellie Davis says:

      *there are those of us*, not their…

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you for commenting Kellie. I have sat mute for some time on this very issue, but I am actually seeing more and more online “Gurus”, who have never even trained a person in their life, dishing out workouts and having zero thought to who is actually doing them!

      I’m so glad that there are trainers like you, Bret, Nia etc who are prepared to learn and share what they know to help people grasp that fitness is not just about any exercise and burning calories any old way, it’s about movements and connecting your mind with what you are doing and doing it well.

      I too was in the same boat a few years back with the same type of program LOL (maybe it was the same guy!), and I’m sure many of my older workouts reflect my inexperience. But I was never satisfied that I knew enough and I always feel I have so much more to learn. I hope I never lose that because it keep me on the ball. As you said, it is often about the individual’s ability to seek current and relevant information for their clients/audience etc.

      XOXO

      • Sarah says:

        I am not going to make any specific name, but I have recently read a comment from one of these online “gurus” who tried to shut a viewer up (someone who was not happy about this guru’s workouts) by arrogantly saying: “You know, I am XXXX-certified”. As if holding a PT certification was enough to “know it all” and to think that you have nothing else to learn.

        • Marianne says:

          There has been a quote floating about lately about this sort of thing and it basically implies that just because you are Certified, does not mean you are Qualified. I like that!

  23. chrysta says:

    So spot on and well said!! That is something that i have been learning along the way and feel more in tune with it. You do seem some crazy workouts out there and its awesome to read some good straight forward info on how to put together a solid balanced plan. Plus sticking to the basics is key I think. You can always throw in variations and accessory work but I think the core exercises are the same type of movement. Really great stuff and Im glad you put this out there.

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