Article by Gill Cummings-Bell & the Drummond Team 

I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again! The seasons come around so quickly I can hardly keep up. Clients and class members are still working out from their post-Christmas fitness drive and are starting to think about getting out of their winter clothes into shorter sleeves, shorts and bare legs. I know I always feel white and pasty and a bit untoned having hidden those body parts through the winter. The thought of getting out my limbs not looking their best is, well to say the least, a bit off putting.  I have empathy with clients who want to tone up before the spring change. Toning up for want of a better phrase for clients is such a vague phrase to describe fitness. What our clients usually mean is that they want to be leaner and lose body fat and have what I call ‘compactability’ in their muscles, i.e. definition, rather than bulking up. With that in mind, it is a good time of year to consider planning our sessions to hit those deconditioned body parts through the principles of integrated strength training.

Integrated strength training can easily be incorporated into any session or programme, in any environment i.e. in the gym, outdoors, in the studio, in a circuit using varied equipment from cable pulley, barbells, dumbells, sandbags, kettlebells, med balls, VIPR, resistance bands, body weight etc. You are only limited by your imagination.

Integrated strength training, whilst not pure strength or endurance training can be considered the base of the resistance training pyramid from which other strength and power can be trained. It can correct muscle imbalances as well as facilitating neuromuscular efficiency in functional movement and improving the synergistic activation of all muscle groups.

Integrated strength training aims to train muscle groups to work together (synergistically) rather than isolating specific muscles to work on their own. This can be achieved through training that changes the load variables such as (but not limited to) using varied planes of motion and axis, transverse, sagittal, frontal or a combination, using different combinations of single leg, double leg, single arm, double arm, alternate arms and leg combinations.

Overload can be kept moving by changing the variable by the use of a variety of resistance types, using different velocities, from different functional positions such as supine, prone, seated and standing. Different unstable and stable bases such as bosu, sand and much more can change the variable with the aim of improving not just strength but balance, stability and neuromuscular coordination. Overload is not just a function of more sets, reps, increased load or change of exercises, it can be kept in the heightened stage of adaptation by changing planes, changing positions, changing the types of resistance and changing bases of support.

Integrated strength training doesn’t replace other methods of resistance training, it can be used in combination with and to enhance traditional strength training programs and used as a base to build from. The traditional strength training should also be included in a client’s long term programme.

Here are some simple exercises to get your clients started which will build the stability and strength and then progress. Consider progressing and challenging them by adding more multi plane movement, more weight such as kettlebells, more unstable surfaces such as balls and bosu. Remember you are only limited by your imagination!

Lunges with progression or combine them:


Squatting with band:


Dorsal raise into side flexion

Mountain climber with oblique twist

Plank with progressions

Dead Bug & progressions

Side Plank Dynamic

Abdominal roll out