A great personal trainer can be invaluable: Plenty of us wouldn't get to the gym without a guy there rooting for us, and we often depend on trainers to demonstrate good exercise form. The reality for most men, though, is that they can't justify the expense or commit to showing up at a certain time and place several times a week. But that doesn't mean you can't get the same kind of workout: It's easier than you might think to build your own professional training program. Although the lifting and running that a trainer puts you through may seem like a mysterious science, it's not. In fact, most trainers stick to simple formulas to help you build strength and endurance. We tapped some of the best trainers in the country and researched the best fitness books you should have on your shelf to uncover the secrets to getting a proper workout – all by yourself.
Tend to your core.
In the context of functional athletic training, core does not mean crunches. It means strengthening the stabilizer muscles around your spine and your hip and shoulder joints. Everybody has hidden core weaknesses: glutes that don't fire, setting us up for knee injuries or weak rotator cuffs that turn the bench press into a guaranteed shoulder-injury program, just to name a few. So if you're going to add one layer of complexity to your strength program, make it a few simple core-stabilization exercises. For a complete rundown of all these exercises, be sure to read 'Core Performance' by Mark Verstegen.
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