I usually write my own workouts, but once in awhile I find a workout plan that really appeals to me. A couple of days ago I stumbled across Erin Stern’s Elite Body 4-Week Fitness Trainer on bodybuilding.com, and fell in love with it immediately. It is everything I’m looking for in a workout, from the number of rest days to the kinds of exercises she has you do. I’ve just started this plan (today is Day 2), and I’ll blog my progress as I go. Here are some things that initially appeal to me about this program:
- The number of rest days. I believe rest days are just as important as training days. In fact, rest days are actually what makes you gain in strength. When you train a muscle, it causes hundreds of mini tears within the muscle. When you take a rest day, those tears heal, actually making the muscle stronger. You do the hard work on training days, then your body repairs itself and gets stronger on rest days. This workout plan is set up in a 2 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off format. I’ve used that format in my workouts for a long time and have found that it works best for me. I used to follow a 5 days on, 2 days off format, but I ended up not making much progress that way. When I would work out 5 days in a row, I would find that by the fourth and fifth days I was really struggling to stay motivated since my body was screaming for a break. It’s a lot easier to push myself hard for 2-3 days when I know I’ll be getting a rest soon.
- The focus on improving both performance and aesthetics. A lot of programs focus on just one or the other. Either you are doing lots of isolation exercises to define muscles and look good, or you are doing compound exercises to improve your function for a sport or everyday life. I was really excited to see that Erin’s plan includes compound and isolation exercises for the benefit of both performance and aesthetics. That way you get the best of both worlds.
- The exercises themselves. My followers know I am a huge believer in doing a wide variety of exercises instead of the same thing over and over, and this program certainly offers plenty of variety. I don’t have all the equipment needed to do all of the exact exercises in the workouts, but I can use the equipment I have (see this post) to do very similar exercises and work the exact same muscles.. For example, I don’t have a cable machine so I can’t do cable rear delt flys, but I can do rear delt flys on my gymnastic rings, which works the same muscles. While following this plan, I will be able to incorporate weightlifting, suspension training, kickboxing, calisthenics, and all of my favorite exercises (plus some new ones).
- The order of exercises. The way Erin has laid out each workout is perfect. She puts the power exercises first (since you will have the most power at the beginning of the workout), and saves isolation exercises (for detailing individual muscles) for the end. After you have completed the compound movements, you will have a final burst of adrenaline to get you through the final isolation exercises. It really is the perfect layout.
- The videos. I am a very visual person, so I love the fact that Erin has included videos to go along with each workout, demonstrating most of the exercises and explaining why each one is so effective. For me these videos are incredibly motivating.
Overall, I absolutely love this program, and am super excited to see what the next 4 weeks bring. This program will work for every fitness level, from beginner to advanced athlete, so don’t be afraid to give it a try! I’d love to have people join me 🙂 Here’s one of Erin’s videos to further peak your interest: