Warm ups and muscle activation
We’re all about getting to work - but first, you need to turn up the heat!
A proper warm up is a must before jumping into any type of physical activity!
Here are the 3 top reasons to add a 5-minute warm up to your workout:
It’s called a “warm up” for a reason: while prepping for the main workout, you’re getting the body temperature up, meaning less chance of muscle and tendon injuries. You don’t bake buns in a cold oven - they won’t turn out right!
The blood flow to working muscles also increases - which means they get fuel and oxygen required for the exercises much quicker. This translates into a much more efficient session.
Finally, warming up ensures your cardiovascular system is ready to pump it, increasing your endurance for the session.
When picking warm up exercises, ensure that you incorporate movement patterns that are either similar to your main session, or work the same muscles - just apply less resistance. This is done to ensure those muscles are “awake” and ready to go! For example, if you’re planning on doing some heavy hip thrusts, do a couple of sets of lighter banded ones to warm up and wake up the glutes. Avoid any prolonged static stretches immediately before your weighted session, as those can decrease your strength and endurance for the duration of the workout.
You will notice under warm up sessions called activation circuits. When you do those, you don’t need to worry about additional warm ups, unless you want to work through certain areas that you know need extra “awakening” in your body. On days when activation is not already incorporated, feel free to add your own warm up exercises or pick a sequence from the library!
HOT TIP: Short on time? Use your very first set for warming up by simply performing exercises with either no added weight or going lighter than your normal working weight!
After Your Workout
Although it’s easy to switch off at the end of your workout, there are so many benefits to adding a cool down routine! This helps your muscles return to a relaxed state, and may help reduce soreness and tightness the next day. Just a few gentle movements or a series of static stretches focused on your target muscles will do the trick! You will find a wide variety of cool down routines in your library.
Stretching and Mobility Work
Stretching feels so good - after all, it is a natural instinct! Chances are, you woke up this morning and stretched out like a happy cat without necessarily realising it.
However, this is not quite enough - and we want you to incorporate stretching more purposefully! Making time to stretch is effective not only to increase flexibility, but also to strengthen our muscles, increase mobility, and prevent injuries. Improving mobility boosts your performance and ensures you’re exercising with correct form.
For general mobility, we recommend making time each day to stretch your major muscle groups (shoulders and neck, legs, lower back, and arms). If you have a sedentary job, taking a break every couple of hours to perform a stretching sequence is a great way to regain focus, boost energy and help address any muscle tension.
We have included many stretching routines in your library - make sure to check them out!
Mind to muscle connection
Have you ever noticed that simply “going through the motions” during a workout doesn’t really leave you feeling satisfied with your sweat sesh? There’s a very good reason for that!
Research shows that by focusing on specific muscles to create contractions, you force your brain to engage more muscle fibers and keep irrelevant ones switched off.
To improve the quality of your workouts you want to deliberately and consciously focus on muscle contraction in primary muscle groups involved in your exercises. This is known as mind to muscle connection (MTM).
To successfully work a muscle group, you need to FEEL it working. Force your mind to focus solely on the exercise you’re doing and the muscle you’re trying to work. As a bonus, when you successfully do this, it often takes a lot less reps to start ‘feeling’ the muscle work!
Try to contract the muscles at the peak of every movement and watch how much of a difference this makes not only to muscle engagement, but also your form. The more you train yourself to focus on MTM, the better results you’ll experience!
Hot Tip: Humans are great multitaskers...not. While music is a great background for your workout, things like TV, podcasts or trying to hold a conversation can take away from your ability to focus - especially if you’re trying to master a new movement. Less distractions - more gains!
Time under tension
Time under tension (TUT) is a very useful tool in strength conditioning and bodybuilding. Essentially, TUT refers to how long your muscle is under strain during the set - and manipulating it can induce different responses in the body. For example, lifting weights at a fast speed helps your body to recruit a large number of muscle fibers at once, which helps you to build strength and increase your stamina and endurance.
On the other hand, by slowing down the movement, you are forcing your muscles to work longer under a higher tension, which creates more muscle trauma. This may sound scary - however it’s those micro-tears that ultimately result in visible gains after being repaired!
You will notice different tempos recommended in your Program - for example, you may be doing the same exercise in several sessions per week, however with completely different tempos! So do pay attention to those little numbers, as they are a true game changer.
Hot Tip: When you first start implementing tempo training, completing all reps in a set may seem impossible compared to times when you “just did it” without programmed pauses! If you’re failing but still have a few reps to go, drop the weights and continue immediately, with the same correct tempo - this will maximise TUT while ensuring your form is correct.
Core stability & Strength
Your core is so much more than a six pack!
And while we’re at it, just because someone has a prominent six pack, doesn’t mean they actually have a strong core! Visibility of abdominal muscles mostly depends on body fat %, as well as a dash of genetics.
So are the abs “made in the kitchen” then? Maybe, but not a supportive, strong core - so there are numerous benefits to training it! We incorporate numerous core strength and stability sessions in Peachbody and in classes, as core is your link connecting and supporting upper and lower body. Without an engaged core, your balance and stability can suffer, which increases risk of injuries and reduces the effectiveness of other exercises.
Don’t be fooled by our signature bodyweight core circuits - they will seriously challenge you!
Hot Tip: No need to do endless crunches after every single session! Many of the compound moves such as deadlifts, squats and so on work your core too - it’s serious work to keep your body stable and engaged.
Sculpt and define work
One of my key approaches to training is hitting those target muscles in as many different ways is possible - which is why I incorporate sculpting exercises and sessions throughout your programming.
For example, if you love lifting heavy in your lower body sessions, you should also frequently incorporate equipment such as bands and ankle weights. We find those extremely effective to isolate the glutes without engaging the surrounding muscle groups. With correctly implemented banded work, you can truly fatigue your glutes without any additional resistance - meaning you can do a killer workout anywhere, anytime with minimal equipment.
Utilising ankle weights is another great way to hit the glutes from a number of different angles. I recommend using ankle weights between 1kg - 2.5kg for each leg to start with, and over time you can increase those.
Sculpting work can also be performed with no added resistance! If you see these, don’t assume you’re going to have a light session. Prepare for a high rep, fast paced sculpting extravaganza that will make your heart race, and your target muscles turn into jelly!
Hot Tip: Heavy ankle weights can be difficult to purchase, especially online - shipping costs on those can be exorbitant! Here’s an easy life hack we use all the time: for an extra challenge, you can place both weights on one leg! Game changer.