Exercise, recovery and nutrition insight from a fitness expert.
24Life talked to Erica Tillinghast, MS, NASM-certified personal trainer and Global Education Manager at Precor, to get her best advice on training and healthy living.
24Life: What’s your top training tip for working out in the summer? Does a workout routine need to change with the seasons?
Erica Tillinghast (ET): Workouts should map to the unique goals of each participant. Our activities in the gym should often align with our sports or physical priorities outside of the gym. In the spring or summer, that might mean races, hiking, softball league, or other outdoor sports as daylight and sunshine increase. Many of these activities may require training on less stable surfaces, like curved roads, trails or uneven grass surfaces. Prioritizing balance and core exercises at the onset of summer can help ensure participants are ready for unpredictable terrain.
24Life: What are the three most beneficial exercises people should include in their workouts?
ET: There is no “perfect” exercise – it depends on the individual. However, regardless of our activities, movement preparation is king!
Here are three of my favorite exercises to get people loose and ready to move. These total-body movements will gently raise your heart rate, strengthen your body, and get you mentally and physically prepared for your training session ahead:
1. Multi-Directional Leg Swings
- Stand on left leg and swing right leg forward and back
- Bend knee on the backswing to drive heel to butt, and fully extend leg on the front swing
- Allow arms to swing across body in rhythm with the movement
- Repeat on opposite side
- Perform same movement with a lateral swing (frontal plane across body) and as a soccer kick (45-degree angle across body)
2. Backward Lunge with Lateral Flexion
- Step right leg back into a lunge
- Squeeze right glute and raise right arm up and add a side bend
- Step back to starting position and repeat on opposite side
3. Is, Ys, and Ts
- Stand with neutral posture, feet hip width apart and arms by your sides
- Raise both arms overhead (I position), avoiding arching your back as your arms raise
- Return to starting position, and raise arms up and to the side in a Y position
- Return to starting position, and raise arms out to the sides in a T position
24Life: What is the most important exercise technique tip that people need to know?
ET: Find a style of working out that you enjoy and that motivates you and do more of it often! Often, participants hop on machines because they feel like that is “exercise” or what they are “supposed to do.”
If an activity doesn’t have a high enjoyment factor for them, people typically lose interest quickly, leading to missed goals and lost retention for operators.
24Life: How should someone regenerate or revitalize?
ET: Recovery is often the most overlooked part of a workout. Participants push themselves in the gym, but rarely focus on what is needed to fully restore function and prepare themselves for the next sporting event or training session. A holistic approach to recovery will ensure that participants stay at their peak.
This approach requires sleep (typically seven or more hours per night), hydration (eight to 12 glasses of water a day to keep cellular function, performance, energy levels and metabolic efficiency on task), healthy eating (prioritize a colorful, balanced diet with whole foods) and flexibility (use a foam roller and regular stretching routine to increase vitality, reduce pain, improve posture, and lower injury risk). Rest days with low-to-moderate-intensity exercise are also recommended, such as gentle swimming, walking or yoga.
24Life: What is the best pre-workout or post-workout snack for nourishment?
ET: My pre-workout go-to food is a banana. Bananas provide rapidly accessible carbs and potassium, and are easy to digest. Post-workout, I reach for Greek yogurt and fruit or a granola bar to get the proteins and carbohydrates that are needed to refuel.
Want to hear more advice from Erica? Check out her other articles here on 24Life.com.