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The Perfect (Workout) Hour

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All of us at Old Line are busy individuals. Sports, school, work, recitals, and other daily activities take up the majority of our days. Most of us are able to come to Old Line for an hour in order to escape our daily routine. However, are you using that hour to your full potential? Most of us miss the boat in our routine at the gym. Sure, you can show up to Old Line each day and improve your overall fitness but are you truly MAXIMIZING your time spent at the gym? What does that even look like? How do you know? 

First, and unfortunately, like most aspects in the fitness world, the following prescription is not a one-size-fits-all plan. There is always some trial and error involved to tweak everything to your specifications. So treat the following as a template for success, not the Bible. 

Optimal Format: Minutes 0-30: Warm-Up; Minutes 31-60: Exercise

Unbeknownst to most, long-term health and wellness is a balancing act between exercise and recovery. We so often dwell on the “hard part” of simply showing up and working out that we forget to change our routine once our workout habit has been instilled. Think about it: now, you are six months in and coming to the gym 5-6 days per week! Awesome! What are you doing differently now? It quickly becomes a question about how you are RECOVERING between your workouts—no longer simply showing up. 

Optimal Warm-Up: Minutes 0-5: Heart Rate; Minutes 5-20: Stretch; Minutes: 21-30: Activate those Muscles

Half of your fitness hour should be spent on warming up. This needs to be a consistent, structured warm-up, however, not a 30-minute Game of Thrones recap with your gym BFF. Lame, I know, but necessary. 

Your first five minutes in the gym should be spent elevating your heart rate. Run, row, bike, ski, double unders, kettle bell swings, or even burpees should do the trick. 

The next 15 minutes should be spent moving through a series of 3-5 movement-based stretches. Focus on a) YOUR weaknesses and then b) hit the areas that need to be addressed for the upcoming workout—hint: shoulders and hips 🙂 

Finally, the last 9-10 minutes should consist of little-to-no weight movements with the focus on moving PERFECTLY. Perfect practice leads to perfect movements. Perfect movements lead to longevity within workouts and between workouts! 

Optimal Exercise: 30-minute Variations split between strength and conditioning

Luckily, this part is done for you. Some days should be more strength based, some days more conditioning base. Others will be a healthy mix of both! CrossFit by design is broad and inclusive in its design and implementation. Show up enough and you’ll get all the stimuli needed for success. Show up once every 3-weeks and you may not “get a good workout”—whatever the hell that means.

The key for the exercise portion of your perfect fitness hour is that it by and large should be SECONDARY to your warm-up routine. Could you get away with coming in, doing a few shoulder rolls, and then hitting Fran when you were 18? Sure! Can you now that you are 38?—the answer should be: HELL NO. By and large, this gym consists of athletes ranging from mid-twenties to their mid-fifties. Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, you need to start prioritizing your movement preparation and movement quality more. Working out irregardless of your ability to move properly is dangerous and just an inefficient use of your time. See how fast you can get your car to go with it’s Emergency brake on. And then let me know how much your subsequent mechanic bill is as a result. The same is true with your body, just sub in your primary care and specialist co-pay in for mechanic bill. 

Over-Time: 10 minutes of cool-down stretching

Please take 10 minutes after each class to stretch. These should be passive stretches—think any stretch that requires you to lay down. Hold for 1-2 minutes per side and focus on your breathing. Your breath will bring your body back to homeostasis and shift your hormone output to a less-stressed state. 

How to fully optimize your time Bonus #1: Lock in your nutrition and sleep 

Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are crucial to hormone balance, body composition, workout recovery, and overall health and well-being. It cannot be overstated enough how critical these two elements are for you. Get help NOW if either are not properly dialed in. I will always prioritize meal prep over attending a class/doing a workout. Missing one workout will not make a difference. Eating like shit all week because you “didn’t have time to meal prep” is hugely deleterious to your health and fitness goals. 

How to fully optimize your time Bonus #2: Have a plan

Once you have gotten into your workout routine, you begin noticing movements that continuously give you major issues. A successful athlete will develop a plan to attack these movements not avoid them. I cannot recommend enough finding a coach and setting up between 5-10 personal training sessions with them. Yes, this is a large financial investment. However, in the long-run, it will pay immense dividends. These 5-10 sessions will help you develop a pinpointed plan of attack for EVERY SINGLE CLASS/WORKOUT.  Imagine coming to every class from here on out and actually have a logical plan of attack. It’s the difference between finding your destination using a GPS versus using the sun and a compass. Spend the money, use the GPS, and get to where you want to go FASTER. Invest now and watch yourself almost effortlessly pick up movements and charge through workouts when you know what the best scale-downs are for your specific weaknesses. It’s truly night and day. 

Kyle F.