Is your job physically demanding? Do you want to avoid injuries by ensuring your muscles are ready for the challenge?
As always, we are here for you at The Fitness Tribe. We want to help people in a hard labor workplace stay fit and healthy. Not only will workouts for hard labor keep you from injuries, but they will also improve work performance. We’ll discuss different workouts supporting your workplace activities while helping you understand how you will benefit from them for the long haul. Let’s get right to it.
Core Muscles Are Vital
Our core muscles are more than just the abdominals. The core comprises abdominals, obliques, hip flexors, lower back, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus muscle groups. These muscles keep you upright, protect your spine, and propel you forward.
When your job requires physical exertion or lifting heavy loads, core muscles help to protect your back. Strengthening the surrounding muscles puts less pressure on the spine and lets the muscles do their job.
Many workouts strengthen your core muscles with your body weight only. Any plank, whether a side plank or planking on your forearms, engages your core muscles.
The dead bug exercise is excellent for the core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, the inner abs that wrap around you and protect your back. Perform this by lying on your back with your hands straight in the air above your shoulders and knees bent over your hips. Slowly extend one leg out at a time and then bring it back to starting position. Repeat the same pattern on the other side for a simple, killer ab workout.
Another excellent exercise for the core muscles is the bird dog. Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and knees under your hips. Extend your right arm straight out in front of you while your left leg extends behind you. Hold the position for a few seconds and lower it to repeat on the opposite side. This exercise targets abdominal and lower back muscles.
Since you’re already Superman at your job, why not incorporate the Superman exercise into your workouts? Lie on your stomach with arms extended over your head and legs straight behind you. Lift your legs and arms simultaneously until you feel your back muscles contracting, and hold the position for a few seconds. Lower back down to the floor and repeat.
A back bridge is an excellent way to build your glutes and hamstrings, which factor into stabilizing your core. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips toward the ceiling until you have created a bridge between your shoulders and knees. Hold the position squeezing your glutes, and lower your hips to the floor.
Other workouts like pilates and yoga are excellent for strengthening your core muscles. They help you stabilize by holding positions and build strength for heavy lifting. Both are great for relieving tightness in your lower back and hip flexor muscles after heavy lifting.
Improve Heart and Lungs
While you’re working the rest of the muscles in your body, let’s not forget the most vital one–the heart. Keeping the heart strong means getting enough aerobic exercise into your workouts to stimulate higher heart rates. Exercising your heart leads to better blood flow, stress reduction, better sleep, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and more. We can’t say enough about how essential it is to flex your heart muscles with aerobic exercises. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise—add aerobic movements with strength training to gain lean muscle mass to increase metabolic rate while at rest.
In addition to your heart getting stronger from aerobic exercise, your lungs also do. Aerobic workouts help strengthen lungs and build better lung capacity. Your lungs can get more oxygen with each breath, helping to ignite blood oxygen levels for better overall health.
Regarding aerobic exercise, find a heart-pumping activity that suits you. Anything from sports to workout machines like treadmills to high-intensity interval training increases the heart rate and improves lung function.
Build Lean Muscle Mass
Building lean muscle mass throughout the body is imperative for people with complex labor jobs. Everything from major muscle groups like the core, glutes, and upper body to the stabilizers helps reduce the risk of injuries on the job. Balance your workouts with your work schedule since you will get lots of strength training during the work day.
We recommend full-body workouts for your major muscle groups at least two or three times a week. Ensure those workouts are not on consecutive days so your body can recover. Moderate weight training with resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, or a combination of all three builds muscle and perform exercises right at home. Try two sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise to start and build from there.
In addition to weight training, bodyweight training exercises like push-ups, squats, tricep dips, planks, and lunges are excellent for building muscles throughout the body. They require no extra equipment and are challenging enough all on their own.
We cannot stress the importance of stretching enough. Similar to how strong muscles decrease injuries, so does stretching. There are two different types of stretching, dynamic and static. Let’s take a look at both types.
Dynamic stretching is stretching through movements. Perform this stretching at the beginning of your workouts to prepare the body for exercise. Some examples of dynamic stretching include hip swings, gate openers, standing trunk rotations, and arm circles. These stretches increase blood flow to the joints, ligaments, and muscles, preparing the body for your workout.
Static stretching involves stretching a muscle to its maximum length and holding the position for several seconds. It’s best to perform this type of stretching when your body is warm at the end of your workout. It helps keep muscles, ligaments, and tendons loose, avoiding cramping and muscle soreness later. Some examples of static stretching include seated stretches, lying knee twists, pelvic tilts, and cat-cow stretches.
Stretching for 15 minutes, two or three times a week, decreases pain throughout the body, especially in the lower back, where hard labor tends to show the most.
Optimal Workout Times
The best time to work out will depend on several factors. As you know, there is no one-size fits all approach to fitness. A morning workout might work for someone with a later work schedule, while an evening training session might benefit someone else. Consider your work schedule to ensure you aren’t putting too much strain on your body during the day and then adding more with workouts. Once you find a plan that works for you, keep it consistent. Ensure you are always mentally ready to exercise. Otherwise, you may slack off in intensity or form and risk injury or complacency.
While sleep might not feel like a workout, your body gets plenty done while resting. Sleep is essential to brain function, immunity, and recovery. Your body heals as you sleep, so getting adequate rest means you’ll be better prepared for your workday and training sessions.
Workout Sample for Hard Labor Workers
Here is an example of a workout routine that may work for people with hard labor jobs.
Begin with a warm-up to create blood flow to the muscles. Dynamic stretches are best to start a workout, so try some hip swings, arm circles, gate openers, or similar to get started. Don’t cheat on your warm-up. Ensure it is long enough to loosen the muscles to prepare for your workout.
Now that you’ve brought the heat, it’s time to get to some muscle-building exercises. Look for full-body workouts that engage the large muscle groups like legs, back, arms, core, pecs, and shoulders. Moderate weight is best with two sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise. As you gain more strength throughout the body, increase weight and repetitions accordingly. Use dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or a barbell for weight training.
Body weight training exercises like lunges, squats, planks, push-ups, pull-ups, and tricep dips are excellent for building muscle tone. If you don’t have access to equipment, these exercises will do the trick.
Your muscles are burning, so it’s time to switch to some cardiovascular training. Any type of physical activity like sports, running, biking, swimming, or similar is great to get the heart rate going. Pick a workout that suits you to ensure you stay consistent and motivated. We recommend cardio training two to three times per week with a recovery day in between to enhance muscle growth and avoid injuries.
You’ve rocked your workout; now it’s time to stretch your muscles. Static stretching at the end of your training increases blood flow to muscles, ligaments, and tendons, reducing the risk of injuries and muscle soreness. It also helps lower back pain, a common ailment for hard labor workers. Try stretches like the cat-cow, pelvic tilt, and lying knee twist.
No matter what kind of hard labor you perform for your daily job, extra workouts benefit your overall health and protect you from injuries. It’s essential to incorporate exercises into your schedule where it best suits you without overloading your body on a work day after too much strenuous activity. Find a time that works best and stay consistent. It will increase your work performance and protect your body. It’s a no-brainer!