So you go to the gym and you are all motivated to crush an amazing workout. You take a look around… and you decide to hop on the treadmill or you decide to head over to the machine circuit. Now I am not here poking fun at these tools or methods, I just want to enlighten you to a more fulfilling and powerful way to approach a training experience and one that gets results!
Sounds pretty awesome right? It is. But now you must be thinking, “easier said than done!” Well, it doesn’t have to be.
Today is about a mindset shift you need to have in order to optimize your training time. See I use the word training because of the structure that goes into every workout. Many different things can be exercise; I want you to focus on systematically getting better.
Have a Plan in Place BEFORE You Get There
With what I am going to outline you will be armed with the information necessary to have great workouts. But without taking five minutes to make sure you have your program laid out you will be doing too much thinking and not enough working out. Come prepared, jot things down on a piece of paper, use a notebook, or use your own ‘notes’ application on your cell phone. It’s that simple. This enables you to focus on technique, the rhythm of each exercise, and gives your entire workout a flow.
Think of Movements Instead of Muscles
Unless you plan on going to the gym 5 days a week and lifting weights every single day I am going to encourage you not to do body part splits if your goal is to lose body fat. What I mean by body part splits is the body-building style of training where you chose two muscle groups, for instance biceps and triceps, and work just those muscles for your entire session.
Instead, think of movements where you have multiple muscles working together. This automatically leverages muscular teamwork so you get more done, create more of a training stimulus, and burn more calories.
Some ways I simplify movements are double leg, single leg, horizontal pushes/pulls, vertical pushes/pulls.
Here are some examples:
Double leg – Squats, Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts
Single Leg – Elevated Split Squats, Reverse Lunges, Step-Ups
Horizontal Pulls – TRX Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Cable Rows
Horizontal Presses – Push-Ups, Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench Press
Vertical Pulls – Chin-Ups, Lat Pull Down, Bent-Over Cable Row
Vertical Presses – DB Over Head Press, Kettlebell Overhead Press, Barbell Overhead Press
Core: See Previous Article, “Five Superior Core Alternatives”
By focusing on movements you now have a more balanced workout. However, DO NOT think you need to get every movement during every workout. If you just focus on a couple of movements you will get an intense, effective, and full-body workout that builds muscle and burns fat.
In addition, if you concentrate on movements you are now working on the ‘skill of strength.’ In order to get great results you need to become better at each exercise. Becoming better only happens with more repetitions, which is why it is so valuable to repeat the same exercises throughout the week.
Think Big Movements Before Small Movements
What type of exercise do you think will burn more fat, a bicep curl or a reverse lunge? Hopefully the answer is clear, a reverse lunge! The more muscles involved in the movement means more stimulus to the body and more calories burnt in the workout AND throughout the day.
I have seen too many adults who major in the minor and are frustrated by not seeing their bodies change. Stop spending the majority of your time at the gym working on little movements that do not produce big changes.
Your plan must start with a big exercise like a squat, lunge, deadlift, row or press in order to set the tone for the rest of your workout. Your next 3 – 4 exercises should also be a big exercise so you create enough of a stimulus to your muscles. Focus on technique, intensity, tempo, and consistently getting better at these exercises before you get worried about curls, tricep extensions, and lateral raises.
Make Sure You Pair Opposing Movements
Okay, great you just started your session off with squats… now what? Well the choice is yours but make sure the next exercise doesn’t impact the previous one. This will create a lot of quality volume and you will feel more of a rhythm and effectiveness going forward in your workout. Repeat this pairing for 3-5 sets.
Then after you finish your first pair put three exercises together that complement one another and complete those in circuit fashion (but not for time). Do not rush through them! We want to make sure you are getting quality repetitions and are building strength. A great example for your second group:
Reverse lunge – Stir the Pots – Dumbbell Rows. Cycle through each four times.
Then once you have finished your first and second pair of big exercises then you can fill in the rest with accessory movements that you enjoy and want to work on.
Think of your accessory movements as the “smaller” exercises. Pick four and cycle through them three times.
Fluctuate Your Repetitions
The last piece of a great workout is how many reps per exercise? Should I be doing low reps or high reps? These are questions we hear all the time and the answer is simple: do them all!
But first lets break down the reps into three different categories:
3-6 = maximum strength
7-12 = building muscle mass
12 + = muscle endurance
All three serve a purpose and they complement each other nicely. So how do you factor in each rep range on a given day? And how do you make sure you keep your workouts progressing?
You can do this two different ways:
- Start your workout with your first pair of exercises in the low rep range and for each subsequent pairing focus on a different rep range
- Pick a rep range and stay with that for all of your exercises in that day
Either method provides varying stimulus to your muscles and as you cycle exercises it allows each one to experience a different range. This consistency and variation within a training session, week and month will keep your workouts exciting and producing results!
So there you have it! Now to simplify:
- Have a Plan in Place BEFORE You Get There
- Think of Movements Instead of Muscles
- Think Big Movements Before Small Movements
- Make Sure You Pair Opposing Movements
- Fluctuate Your Repetitions
Do these five things and I guarantee you will find more enjoyment, have less of a headache, and get better results from your time training at the gym!
If you would like to experience how we implement a professionally designed training program to get amazing results just mention this article and you can train at Driven for 1 week for FREE!