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Train Like a Pro: Sue Bird’s Total-Body Workout

This total-body routine will put your muscles to work, but leave you feeling like a champion.

sue bird stands in front of her tonal looking strong

The more specific your goals are, the more specific your workouts need to be — especially for pro athletes. Sue Bird, four-time women’s basketball champion and all-time league assists leader, turns to Tonal’s Custom Workout feature for the flexibility to train according to her sport’s demands. “I have a performance coach who does my workouts and makes sure I’m getting what I need at all times,” she said. 

Bird swapped traditional weights and dumbbells for the digital weight and artificial intelligence of Tonal in 2019 to better support her training, saying the transition was pretty seamless after a short adjustment period. “The best part was that Tonal actually puts you through a test workout to see how strong you are. From there, it really just kind of takes over,” she said. 

Of course, pros with performance coaches may love the Custom Workout feature best, but for those of us who need more guidance, Tonal has hundreds of built-in workouts and programs that will guide you every step of the way. 

And when you work hard, you need to recover hard. Recovery is an essential part of Bird’s training regimen. On well-earned rest days, Bird said she takes it easy. “Sometimes, those are my cheat days, so maybe I’ll grab some pizza, eat some ice cream, but for the most part, [I] just relax, chill, and stay off my feet.” 

To give you a glimpse into what her training really looks like, Bird shared her go-to Custom Workout on Tonal. Created by Bird’s performance coach, Susan Borchardt, this challenging total-body routine will put your muscles to work, but leave you feeling like a champion.

Sue Bird’s Total-Body Blast Workout

This workout hits all the major muscle groups with an emphasis on building strength and stability in the lower body, posterior chain, core, and upper body. You’ll move through exercises like squats and single-leg movements that build a strong back body for generating power and establish a solid foundation. “Bird keeps her resistance light,” said Liz Letchford, Ph.D., certified athletic trainer and Tonal coach, “so the emphasis is on movement patterning, ensuring that mind-body connection is sound, without taxing the body with a heavy lift.” 

Single-leg movements are beneficial to dynamic sport athletes like Bird because both feet are rarely on the ground during the course of a basketball game, explained Letchford. “Whether Bird is going for a lay-up or sprinting down the court, she needs to be strong while jumping and landing with one leg at a time.” Exercises like the marching glute bridge challenge the stability of the hips in extension while continuing to focus on unilateral strength that’s so important to the sport of basketball, she said. 

That’s also why the workout includes other exercises that strengthen the posterior chain like the pull-through and the W-hold to generate power in jumps and sprints. “Coordination and strength at full hip extension are key when it comes to improving maximum vertical jump height,” said Letchford.

Basketball also requires the momentum of quick directional changes, so moves that build core stability like the farmer’s march and the push-pull are essential for peak performance. 

The workout also includes exercises that focus on upper-body stability and strength. “The alternating neutral lat pulldown focuses on building core and lat strength on one side at a time, giving the opportunity to recognize and address any imbalances [from] side-to-side,” said Letchford.

Tonal Tip: To get in the zone for this workout, follow in Bird’s footsteps and work up a sweat to your favorite pump-up songs. “I’m a 90s hip-hop girl, so anything with Jay-Z or Biggie — those always get me going,” Bird said.  

How to Build Sue Bird’s Total-Body Blast Workout on Tonal 

It’s easy to build Custom Workouts for the Tonal trainer in our mobile app. Just follow along with the steps below. 

  1. Open the Tonal mobile app.
  2. Click the Custom button in the lower right corner of the navigation bar.
  3. On the Custom screen, click the Plus button to create a new custom workout. 
  4. Name the workout Sue Bird’s Total-Body workout and hit Create.
  5. You can now start building the workout. Add a description, edit the number of sets in a block, search for the moves outlined above, and add them to create the workout. 
  6. Once you add all the moves, hit save. This workout will now be available in your Tonal account on the trainer. 
  7. To access this workout on your home screen, choose Custom in the right corner of the navigation bar. You’ll find your new total-body workout at the top of the screen. Select it then get to work.

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