Structuring A Strength Training & Workout Program For Your Goals
Structuring A Strength Training Program – because working out should not be a medley of ‘calorie burning’, randomized moves.
How often do you hear;
· I work out.
· Just finished my workout.
· I’m working out this Saturday.
· Wanna join me for a workout?
And yet, and I will say this with the kindest, best intentions (despite the fact that it will be hurdled at you in screaming all caps); THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE I MEET OR SEE AT THE GYM DON’T WORKOUT CORRECTLY.
It’s true, most people I see at the gym have no clue what they are doing and why they are doing it. Following apps, Instagram celebrities and other references, it is sad to say that people (free thinking, hard-working, goal oriented people) have no clue of the very fundamentals of structuring a correct, effective strength training (aka workout) routine.
That’s where people like me come in; I am a trainer/ coach/ teacher/ educator. I have fitness DVDs that are sold all over the world, and I make custom training programs for individuals that don’t have access to me weekly (either for time, finances or location).
There are plenty of well qualified trainers, SOME (and I say this kindly- SOME) good fitness classes and there are also good fitness regiments like private gyms, cross-fit studios and performance facilities. However all of that information is also clouded by airbrushed abs, cool looking moves and countless misconceptions.
· No, you cannot spot reduce
· No, you don’t need to (nor should you) do different exercises in every workout
· No, you won’t get bulky lifting over 5 pounds
· No, you should not be lifting the same weight over a progression of your program
· No, you should not be trying to burn off the cake you ate last night
· No, just cardio doesn’t work
· No, no one single exercise will solve all of your problems
· And NO, if you train correctly you do not need to do it every day (unless you really want to) and it does not need to take up hours of your time).
Having said all of this, many of us have very specific goals and I know that navigating through gym equipment, Instagram videos and apps can be confusing, misguiding and daunting. In a world where everyone is selling you something, and in a world where everyone wants a level of recognition (whether their credentials and experience earn it or not) how is a person to navigate?
The hard truth is that even if you can find something you like and follow it and see success – you are no sheep and you should still have a solid understanding of what you are doing and why, WHY – o- why you are doing it.
So, how do you structure a proper strength training routine?
Well guys, it’s actually not as difficult as you think. But it does take some very important fundamental understanding. Let’s get to it.
The first thing you need to do when understanding if a workout is right for you, or when establishing one for yourself is simple: You need to do a little SELF EVALUATION
Self-evaluation can be daunting, but it is essential for establishing any form of success. And your key steps to determining a proper and beneficial routine.
The questions you need to ask yourself; are you relatively weak? Are you walking around with pain from overuse issues? Or are you pretty strong and agile and are you currently not encountering issues of overuse or chronic pain?
If you have pain in an area, let’s say the shoulders, back, elbows or knees that MUST come first before your other goals of smaller size jeans and tiny dresses. It doesn’t mean that your workout cannot help you accomplish both; re-balancing your bodies muscle imbalances and getting you out of pain as well as getting you stronger, leaner and fitter. But, you also cannot ignore the issues you have physically just because you want to burn more calories or do something more challenging.
It is very important to note that: for individuals always in pain and weakness, the priority must shift to establishing a strength and conditioning program to help close those gaps.
Remember, in all training, progression through self-evaluation is key.
The next question you need to ask yourself;
How often can you devote yourself to exercise – make sure you are truthful here. This part of your evaluation will help you establish measurable goals that you can attain instead of try to live up to.
The key is not to slack here – you must devote time and discipline, but it’s also not to set standards you can in no way attain.
Whether you are working for strength, weight-loss, muscle gain, mobility, performance – any or all of it, your actual workout structure will be fairly general and simple. What will vary will be your volume and frequency and weight and interval or rep structure.
To build a progressive and beneficial strength training routine everyone needs to focus on covering all the major muscle groups in all of their basic movement patters:
· hip hinging
· knee bending
Special attention should also be paid to your level of fitness; determining your level of complexity in an exercise. Some people require stability, anti-rotation, and basic loads first, while others are ready for more compound and multi joint exercises with more variables.
In all of my kettlebell certification courses I explain the need for the 7 pillars listed above to be included in every workout.
Therefore, no matter how difficult or ‘cool’ a workout can be, if it only has pushing and squatting in its program, then, well, it’s not a complete workout routine and it will eventually do more harm (cause muscle imbalances) then good.
What exercises should you pick?
While some exercises are better than others for specific muscle groups or specific individuals, or specific goals there are many standard exercises that are effective for each muscle group.
The key is to make progress in your exercises by being able to execute more effectively and load (place more weight) onto your exercises over time.
Samples of Great Exercises in Each Pillar
· Deadlifts, kettlebell swings, hip thrusters are great hip exercises.
· Pull ups, rows, inverted rows are wonderful pulling exercises.
· Squats, lunges and split squats are amazing knee bending exercises.
· Overhead presses, push-ups are amazing for pushing.
· Walking lunges, crawling variations, sprints and speed skaters are great locomotion exercises.
· Planks, deadbugs, hallows, Turkish Get Ups are great for stability exercises.
· Trunk twists, chops, ball side throws are great for rotation.
Programing Your Training
There are many different high intensity training methods, rep and set protocols, and systems of training. The key is to understand what each one does, and if and how it applies to you and your goals.
Working out is 100% a science, everything has a proven theory, a formula and an outcome. There are no hidden secrets, just hard and SMART work complimented by discipline.
Reps, sets, time intervals along with weight variables are the true builders of bodies. You should aim to understand the standard science of each type of program and once you establish it you must stick with it! DO NOT think you need to change this every time you workout. Too frequent of a change and deviation from a program is actually and quite often the reason people don’t see the type of success they want.
Bodybuilders workout daily with perhaps one day of breaks, but cross-fitters workout virtually daily yet in a very different workout structure. Athletes typically lift weights 2-3x a week tops to make room for the other demands of their training. And guess what- all of these concepts and approaches are 100% success proven.
What all of these methods have in common is that they:
Don’t skip/ miss days
Stick to their program
They all, also have rest days – and those rest days make sure that the body isn’t over taxed and overused.
In the end, workout structure is a science, but it’s nothing that you can’t learn, and it is something that if you workout that you should aim to understand.