JUST FOR THE HEALTH OF IT: Multi-task your workout

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First Posted: 2/25/2014

One of the many skills we possess as humans is the ability to multi-task. Whether it’s “reading” a swimsuit-laden sports magazine while surfing through the channels or sipping coffee while chatting on the phone, we are constantly doing it. It’s human nature to want to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Why handle just one task if you can juggle multiple in the same amount of time?

The most beneficial, true, and untapped skill on the multi-tasking merry-go-round is exercising. An effective workout program should be designed to work multiple muscle groups and body systems simultaneously. When this is done, the result is a host of benefits: increased energy and stamina, more confidence, less body fat, stronger bones, and less risk for stroke and heart disease.

Long work days, taking care of children and perhaps even a second job make it understandably difficult for some to find time to exercise. After all, the less time you have, the easier it is to find excuses to skip a workout. The good news is that you already possess the key component to success: your body. I suggest doing a total body workout every time you hit the gym. Don’t just throw exercises together and call it a workout – strategize.

Your body has six major planes of movement: quad and hip dominant, horizontal push and pull, and vertical push and pull. Each plane should be worked in an equal fashion (think of it as multi-tasking your muscles). If you fail to do so, you run the risk of having muscular imbalances, potentially setting yourself up for future injury.

Regardless of your fitness level, you can exercise safely and effectively all while achieving balanced results. Add the six major planes of movement to your workouts, which include basic exercises like squats, lunges, bench presses, rows, overhead presses, and chin-ups. As you become more advanced, you can get creative with exercises like the Spider-Man push-up and wall climb.

Choosing appropriate exercises for your body is crucial. Choosing the amount of repetitions (number of times you do each exercise) and sets (a group of several reps) is just as important. While three sets of 10 is a common approach to program design and perhaps a good place to start, you won’t make much progress doing three-by-10 for the rest of your life. To prevent the dreaded plateau, vary the number of sets and reps you do in a structured way.

Our bodies are literally multi-tasking machines, from the inside out. The way we move and strengthen our bodies should be approached with that in mind for optimal results.

-Tim Hlivia is the owner of Leverage Fitness Studio in Forty Fort.