Undoubtedly, trainers have their must-have steps in their personal routines as well. Here, four fitness pros let us in on the secret exercises that always make the cut in their own workouts — often as part of their warmup. Since they do this for a living, the trainers’ favorite exercises can point you to moves you might want to add to your arsenal.
Charlie Atkins, founder of Le Sweat TV
Go-To Moves: Isometric Split Squat and Isometric Tripod Side Plank
Charlie Atkins, CPT, founder of Le Sweat TV, likes to include isometric split squats and isometric tripod side planks back-to-back as part of his warmup before any workout.
“I taught indoor cycling for a decade, which ruined my hips,” she says “Combined, these two exercises open up my hips and make me stronger. I do them almost every day.”
Atkins holds each position for two rounds for 30 seconds on each side of his body to strengthen his hips, knees, lower back and abs. “Isometrics are low-impact and strengthening, so you can add them to any workout as part of a warmup or workout,” she says.
Surprisingly, Atkins featured these moves in one of his videos for the Well+Goods Trainer of the Month series, a 17-minute lower body and core HIIT workout. Check it out for her step-by-step instructions on how to do them effectively
Roxy Jones, Fitness Coach
Go-to moves: arm bar and cat-cow
Fitness instructor Roxy Jones, CPT, always makes sure to warm up with arm bar exercises to focus on her versatility and shoulder mobility and strength. Not only does this movement (which includes holding a kettlebell upright while lying on the floor and rolling overhead) keep her shoulders healthy, she says, “It also allows for additional movements like hip bridges or single-leg raises that can provide more of a warm-up. Pre -workout up.” Jones adds that arm bars help create more stability in the shoulders for safer overhead movements like Turkish get-ups or strict presses.
When it comes to stretching, Jones is all about the cat-and-cow. “It’s integral to maintaining spinal mobility, the core of movement,” she says. “Mobilizing the spine can prevent future injuries.” Count us in!
Michelle Parolini, Row House Master Coach
Go-to moves: squats and deadlifts
Squats and deadlifts have stood the fitness test of time for good reason, says Rowe House CPT Michelle Parolini. “I love squats because they’re one of the most complete exercises you can do,” she says “You’re not just working the quads and glutes, you’ll be working core stability, calves, hamstrings, abductors and adductors.”
A bonus? Changing the depth of the bend and the width of your foot placement can mix up exactly what you get out of the movement. Parolini says he always throws a few rounds of squats into his warmup to open up his hip, knee and ankle joints.
Meanwhile, Parolini says, deadlifts can be used to strengthen the hamstrings and lower back. “The deadlift is great to increase functional strength for activities of daily living,” she says.
For him, both of these steps are to strengthen his legs for the long haul. “Strong legs are essential for good mobility,” she says “Squats and deadlifts will work the legs from all angles.”
Erin Beck, director of training and experience at Stride Fitness
Go-to move: Runner’s lunge
When warming up, Erin Beck of Stride Fitness, CPT, says her go-to is no exception: the runner’s lunge. “Appropriately named, a runner’s lunge prepares me to run. It’s a three-in-one movement: It opens up my hips, stretches my calves, and activates my glutes,” she says.
“We spend a lot of time sitting with the heat on our hips: we sit in traffic, we sit at work, and we scroll through Instagram while sitting on the couch. A runner’s lunge helps lengthen the muscles in the front of our hips, and it feels incredible to release all the tension we build up throughout the day.”
For this move, stand with your feet hip-distance apart and parallel to each other. Then take a giant step with your right foot, landing on your right toe with most of your weight on your left foot. “Depending on how your mobility feels today, you can keep your torso more upright and rest your hands on your knees, or place one hand on each side of your left leg, resting your chest on your left thigh,” she says. . Once you feel the stretch in your front hip, repeat on the opposite leg.
“You’ll also find me throwing walking lunges (a running version of the runner’s lunge) in the warmups I coach at STRIDE Fitness,” adds Beck. “Pro tip: They’re also great for cooldowns.”
What makes these a particularly useful step is the activation of the adhesive involved. “Our glutes are lazy!” Beck said. “If left to themselves, they don’t ‘turn on’ as often as they should, which means our quads and hamstrings can hurt our runs or workouts.” By engaging the glutes with the runner’s lunge, you can ensure that the backside is firing.