Trainer Brian Nguyen’s six-step fitness regimen goes against the grain. By utilizing new methods of warming up in the gym, his workout routines focus on getting every single part of the body limbered up before moving into more stressful exercises.
First step: He says to toss aside the age-old idea of warming up on a bike or the treadmill, since those things don’t loosen you up like you think they do.
“If you come in with slumped shoulders and tight hips and sore knees and warm up by biking or jogging, they won’t affect you because they just gear your body for more dysfunction,” Nguyen says.
Nguyen trains Mark Wahlberg and has worked with several other celebrities and star athletes, such as Will Ferrell and (pre-retirement) Kobe Bryant. He is also the co-founder of Brik Fitness in Redondo Beach, California, where he plans workout programs for a number of stars, Olympic athletes and collegiate teams. Here are six essential elements of a fitness routine that Nguyen says you should always be able to include in your workout programs:
1. RAMP – Range of Motion, Activation, and Movement Press
As you might imagine, this is the warm-up section of the workout. Nguyen says that RAMP is all about opening up the movement patterns that will get you ready for the rest of the routine. Hone in on the muscles that give you the most trouble and get them going. In general, this is five to ten minutes of turning on the muscles that tend to turn off over the course of a lifestyle that involves a lot of sitting down and avoiding much rigorous movement or outside exercise.
2. Core Training
Strengthen your core with exercises like planks, hip bridges, side planks and hand-high rotation holds. Do this for five to ten minutes as well—it will get you right into your workout while also stabilizing your body for exercises in the later steps. Nguyen says to focus on your breathing throughout this part of the workout—it’s a huge part of making core exercises as effective as possible.
3. Power Development
Exercises like medicine ball tosses and plyometric jumps are big parts of the power development step of this routine. These exercises focus on requiring full body movement that pushes a number of muscles to the limit over the course of the activities. “A lot of force over a short amount of time is more power,” Nguyen says.
4. Resistance Training
The resistance training phase, which lasts about 25 minutes (after which you should be at the 45-minute mark), can feature several different variations on go-to exercises that you’re probably familiar with, like push-pull lunges and squat step-up pulls. This is also a time to do some of the more traditional gym exercises you might be attached to, like the leg press or military press. Nguyen says it’s important to have already completed core training and power development before putting your body through such exercises, effectively decreasing the odds of injury by getting every part of the body ready to go. “[If you do the first three steps], at least I know now that the body’s awake and together,” he says.
5. Energy Systems Training—Finisher
Nguyen says to go ahead and do whatever exercises you want in order to “empty the tank.” He suggests jumping rope, slide board or battling ropes, but it can really be any sort of full-body interval workout that will get your heart racing and finish your workout on a strong note.
The regeneration step is all about foam rolling the fatigued muscles as a key method for quick recovery and injury prevention. Most people can’t afford a massage therapist to help them come back to every new workout fully refreshed, but a low-cost investment in a foam roller can still do the trick and go a long way. “If you can iron out anything first, it can alleviate pains and possibly help you avoid muscle pulls and strains,” Nguyen says.