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Mixing Modalities

Learn why you add cardio, mobility, yoga, and other workouts in addition to strength training to your routine

Adding variety to your strength training with Tonal’s modalities can be a great way to build a stronger body. Learn why it’s important to add cardio, mobility, yoga, and other workouts to your routine in this Tonal Talk with Tonal’s Coach Development Lead and former Nike trainer, Max Artsis.

More than one way to get stronger 

Tonal is rooted in strength training, but we also have lots of other workout modalities that you can use to get stronger, faster.  

Here’s a list of workout modalities available on Tonal: 

Why you should add different modalities into your strength training

Adding variety to your routine is going to help you get stronger. “We sometimes forget all the different ways our bodies can move and confine ourselves to movements traditionally only seen within the walls of a gym,” says Max. “Maybe that’s because we understand the efficacy of those movements because we’ve done more peer-reviewed studies and white papers on the bench press and squat.”    

“However, not a lot of studies have been done on capoeira’s effect on internal and external hip rotation, but that doesn’t mean the efficacy isn’t there. There’s so much opportunity to explore our body, and we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that in every capacity possible.” 

Pro Tip: If you love workouts where you build strength but want some variation, check out Pilates and barre on Tonal. These two modalities help you build strength and will improve your mind to muscle connection. 

How to use different modalities for your goals 

So, what’s the best way to incorporate different modalities into your strength training routine? Max explains that even if you want to add variability, you still need consistency and an overarching goal. It’s really about your journey and what you’re looking to get out of your movement. 

“I like to think about it as a stove with a bunch of different burners. Nothing is ever off. It’s just that during different phases, some burners are hotter, and others are colder. That way, we’re always exposing ourselves to different phases of movement depending on our goals.” 

“So, for example, say in one phase, my main goal is to put on size and mass. I’m not going to have my cardiovascular burner up all the way because that would contradict the overall goal of adding mass. That doesn’t mean the cardio burner is completely off. It’s still there but at a reduced intensity and frequency.”

“Likewise, if you’re trying to get lean, depending on where you are in your fitness journey, in addition to your main strength workouts, you dial up the cardiovascular modalities. I would go towards Tonal’s high-intensity, bootcamp, and boxing.” 

The most important thing is to listen to your body. “If you’ve been doing an immense amount of cardiovascular work and you’re just starting to feel weak, amp up the strength work. If you’re feeling winded getting up the stairs, turn up the cardiovascular.” 

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to add more cardio in your routine, try high-intensity, boxing, bootcamp, or dance cardio with Tonal. 

How to use mobility, recovery, and yoga in your routine

While all three of these modalities may seem similar, they all have a very different purpose. “When I think about recovery, I think about the hierarchy of our central nervous system. So, looking at stressors in our lives and what’s compounding.”  

“Our muscles can’t fire on their own. They need electrical stimulation from our brain, and if our brain is tired, our muscles don’t get that stimulation. So it doesn’t make sense to look at muscular fatigue without understanding our nervous system fatigue. Is my central nervous system firing on all cylinders?” If not then, I’ll dial it back. A lot of people think about recovery as sitting on our butt and watching Netflix, which it can be, but movement with less intensity is also recovery.” 

Mobility and flexibility are essential as we get older, but they are both separate things. “Flexibility is our passive range of motion and ability to get there, but mobility is the ability to express strength in that flexibility, and that’s far more important.” 

A lot of people think about recovery as sitting on our butt and watching Netflix, which it can be, but movement with less intensity is also recovery.

If you’re only using a specific range of motion, and you use less of it as time passes, that range of motion continues to decrease and become your new range of motion. “What we need to understand is how we can continue to express our maximum capacity of motion and increase that capacity. People often think their muscles are tight, and they need to stretch them, but a lot of times, they are weak, and the reason they’re tight is the load you’re demanding is more than they can handle. Mobility helps to strengthen our bodies and handle load by increasing capacity and range of motion.”  

“To speak to yoga, we need to be able to express different ranges of motion and strength. Not only when moving forward and backward or in a front squat, but also in positions where my foot is pigeon-toed, and I’m in a frontal plane, moving sideways and bending a certain way. Stuff can happen in real life, so it’s important to express strength and explore those ranges of motion in yoga too. I feel limited in my range of motion in my hip, maybe that’s my femur’s inability to internally rotate. In a yoga class with internal hip rotations, I might begin to understand what’s causing those limitations during a squat.” 

Find movement you enjoy 

With Tonal, you can explore different modalities from the comfort of your home and find movement you enjoy. “Consistency is king. I would rather you do something that you love rather than me telling you to do something that you don’t love, and then you do nothing. Movement is movement, and it’s just about enjoying the process and finding different ways to do it.” 

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Tonal Talk is a weekly Facebook Live interview series highlighting stories of real strength from within the Tonal community.

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