Design and build your OWN WORKOUT PLAN.
I spent years not effectively training myself, or following plans that weren't suited for me. I tried almost every diet and training plan under the sun without truly understanding why and what I honestly was setting out the achieve.
There are times when I think back to "plans" that I followed or exercises I used to do in the gym and face palm with disgust!
BUT, the key thing learnt here through this trail and error process was that I now have the capability to share knowledge, programs and structures with my clients, knowing exactly how to get them results. FAST.
Training, exercising, working out, moving, whatever you want to call it, is a fantastic gift.
If we have the power to strengthen ourselves through training, we should absolutely capitalise on that.
Training can be personal time for you. A time to work on your body, your mind, your progress, your confidence, strength, injuries, the list goes on.
Training can be a social activity where you work out with friends, family or like minded individuals. It's an opportunity to learn, to develop and grow.
The problem here lies in that most of us either have no idea where to start, where to move on to, or know even if what they are currently doing right now has the power to result in actual change. A beginner may want to know where to start whereas an experienced gym goer may be questioning their current routine, or have doubts on how to progress due to the sheer amount of information online.
Below I'm going to share with you how to structure a workout plan.
For beginners, this may clarify exactly how to get the the most "bang for your buck" when it comes to training. For the more experienced, this'll show that there is absolutely no requirement to over complicate your routine.
1 - WARM UP
Warming up is probably the most important part of your workout (and yes, it is 100% part of your workout!). A good warm up will enable full mobility of your joints, help with injuries, reduce tightness and pain, as well as prepare you full both physically and mentally for your session. A warm up shouldn't be too strenuous and is designed solely to get you ready for the body of the workout. Here's a more detailed video of mine explaining exactly how to perform an adequate routine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n13Odhp5BqQ&t=108s
Oh and 5 minutes on the cross trainer isn't a proper warm up!
2 - PERFORM LARGE COMPOUND MOVEMENTS FIRST
The first exercises you would look to perform when training would be your large compound movements, or your multi joint movements. These include your squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows and pulling movements, presses, twists and so on. I stress the importance of doing these movements first as they will simply enable you to get stronger, leaner and fitter in the shortest possible time, training numerous muscles, over multiple joints, all at once. They are also the most taxing to the body and require full focus and energy to maximise output.
Movements can be broken down into basic movement patterns; push (bench press, shoulder press), pull (row, pull up), hinge (deadlift, hip thrust), squat (or lunging pattern).
3 - ACCESSORY MOVEMENTS
These are your smaller exercises and from observing in the numerous gyms over the years, tend to be everyones favourites! Accessory movements usually isolate specific muscles, are fairly straight forward to perform and are less tiring to execute also. Think bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, ab crunches and calf raises to name a few.
Accessory lifts absolutely have their place in programs, but should be done after any compound lifts to ensure we are firing 100% for our larger movements. For example, you wouldn't want to fatigue your triceps doing 4 sets of pushdowns prior to performing a bench press, as you simply wouldn't be firing at full strength for a much more effective exercise.
4 - CORE
Core training will always come last for me. We require our core for practically every movement, from stabilising us the bottom of a squat to ensuring full range and effectiveness of a press up. The core plays a part in every exercise. So it's important we don't fatigue it first. I'd always advise training core stability through twisting and isometric holds before doing your crunches and the like. See crunches as the icing on the cake.
Your plank holds are one of the most simple, yet effective exercises you can do to build strength in that area.
5 - PROGRESSION through PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on your body. It's essential we progress with our training to both ensure we continue seeing results, avoiding plateaus and to make sure we continue to grow stronger.
Progression doesn't necessarily mean more weight either. Increasing volume, reducing rest periods, changing grip position, increasing frequency, changing tempo of movements, using bi and unilateral movements or simply by changing the stimulus completely can all result in progressions and break plateaus.
PIECING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now you know some of the fundamentals that make up an effective workout, how would that look on paper and how can you translate those groups into an actual workout plan?
Firstly, pinpoint your goal and establish how many times a week you are going to train.
From there you can write down a plan and arrange exercises to suit. Lets say your goal is fat loss and you can train 3 times per week. In this case a full body workout plan would see fantastic results with both fat loss and increase of strength.
Exercises - I tend to include around 5-8 exercises per session, always starting with a couple of large compound movements such as a squat, deadlift, pull ups, bench, overhead press etc. Place explosive movements such as sprinting, agility work or any olympic lifting before your standard compound lifts as these too require complete focus and energy.
Intensity - go easy on the weight at first. Pick a weight you can control and adequately hit the targeted muscles. Try not to load up too much, sacrificing form and increasing risk of injury. A good rep range to begin on would be anything from 8+ reps with 3-5 working sets
Structure - I recommend working to a 6-8 week plan. I cycle the same workouts throughout this period before deloading and taking a step back for a week or so. Write down your workouts and ensure you log your progress throughout!
Probably the most important point I would like to emphasise is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Which doesn't mean without any challenges!
Don't get caught in complex training systems or doing exercises you don't like. Understand how each exercise is going to benefit you and make sure you are doing the key movements that will assist you and your goals.
Coaches train and advise clients in different ways, but here's my take.
Keep it simple. Start light. Learn how to perform movements correctly and progress slowly with confidence. Patience and consistency wins when working towards any goal. Once you nail the basics, everything else falls into place.
If you still feel you need guidance or help in programming your own workouts, or and general assistance with your plan going forward - get in touch, I'll be happy to help!