I’m often emailed about training queries with common questions including: what are the best formulas for fat loss? What is the best training method to gain muscle mass and super strength? One thing the queries have in common is that people want to get fitter. Check out these 6 steps to an awesome training plan.
For us at Fitter Food the key is keeping things simple and committing to an awesome training plan that is geared to achieving your goals and allows you to have a great time doing it! These 6 steps offer some guidance on putting together a training plan that works for you. Remember – when the going gets tough, there is no better feeling than “getting results.”
1) Know Your Goal
This is hugely important as it dictates the overall direction of your program design. In truth, when it comes to fat loss your nutrition will dominate here! However, training is a great way to increase insulin sensitivity and up regulate hormones that assist in fat burning. But the main point here is you must KNOW what your goals are; strength, hypertrophy (muscle building), endurance or fat loss. By knowing what you want to achieve and focusing on it it helps you to avoid distractions, allowing you to focus, focus, FOCUS.
As a general foundation this is the reps and sets format I follow with clients:
Endurance = 3-4 4 sets of 12 + reps and short rest periods of 20-40 secs, full body approach.
Hypertrophy = 4-5 sets of 6-12 reps with moderate rest of 45-90 secs, body split routine.
Strength = 5-8 sets of 1 – 6 reps with longer rest periods of 2-5 mins, big lift split of squat, deadliest and pressing sessions and adding lifts that assist these.
Fat loss = 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps with moderate rest periods of 30 – 90 secs. Full body approach.
2) Consistency Always Wins
Sounds simple right? Performing a movement consistently means you will ultimately perform it better as your CNS (central nervous system) and muscles adapt with practice and repetition. As the saying goes “don’t fear the man who knows a thousand kicks, fear the man who does 1 kick a thousand times.”
It’s important when putting a program together that you are realistic with the duration, intensity and format of the design, so that you perform the contents consistently. It is easy to get carried away in the beginning and whilst you may start off all guns blazing with lots of enthusiasm this may soon burn out, you then start skipping workouts and your results will suffer. Be realistic, consistent and progress is yours. Personally, I would rather a client performed 4 shorter workouts than 2 longer ones.
3) Compound Lifts Always Win
Regardless of your goal, the bigger lifts such as deadlifts, squats, pressing and rows should always make up the foundation of your program. They offer the most bang for their buck, recruit the most muscle fibres and lay a solid foundation for you to excel in whichever path you take.
The only thing that varies are the reps, sets, rest and tempo of reps but the compound lifts should always be there. Simply compliment these lifts with variations of the lift itself, with isolation movements and bodyweight drills that act as accessory drills to the main lift.
4) Address Weaknesses
Again an obvious point, but so often ignored. Often people avoid a particular exercise or movements simply because they are not good at them. Well durrrr…….you never will be if you don’t do it. Whilst you may get away with this for a while, over time you may be developing and exacerbating imbalances which could potential cause an injury. It also doesn’t do your body composition any favours if you overtrain some muscles over others, you know the type, all chest and guns with a pair of sparrow’s legs!
An method we often use to assess clients imbalances is to perform basic bodyweight movements such as the squat, over head squat and pressing overhead with no added weight. These 3 movements alone will provide a great indication of ankle, knee, hip, back and shoulder mobility.
This image illustrates a great overhead squat. There is no curvature in the spine, the depth is good and the shoulder position is aligned. Notice how his arms are straight and run in line with the back and head position.
This image illustrates a poorly performed overhead squat. Notice how there is little range before the torso is having to tilt forward to compensate? This shows a lack of mobility at the ankles, potentially calves, knees and the hips. We would not place this individual under load before addressing this.
This image illustrates reduced mobility of the shoulder joint. Notice how the guy can’t get his arms pointing directly up inline with the torso. It wouldn’t be wise to get this guy loaded up for an overhead press without addressing this imbalance first.
Common weaknesses or imbalances we see are:
- Over developed chest and under developed back.
- Under developed glutes and hamstrings.
- Weak lower abs and strong upper abs.
- Lack of mobility at ankles, hips, back and shoulder due to desk jobs/sedentary lifestyle etc.
If you acknowledge a weakness in your own movement pattern or posture you can address them with easy rehabilitation methods and some key strengthening exercises. This is perhaps worth more focus than your dominant body parts.
5) Add Weekly Progressions
Let me make this very clear, you don’t need to add weight to the bar every single week. Progression comes in many forms such as managing more reps, reducing rest periods, doing an extra set and of course lifting more weight. Whatever it is you need to factor these into your program. This is why its so important you not only have a plan but you also log each workout you do with reps, sets, rest, weight etc. This way you know exactly what you did and you can assess how it felt; did it feel easier? Could you manage more reps or go a little heavier? Can you cut 10 secs off the rest time? But if you don’t log it, you can’t factor the progressions into your next session and you are simply guessing.
Print your workout off or if you’re old school like me have a note book and write it all down as you go.
6) Factor In Mobility, Stretching And Soft Tissue Work
Training is awesome! Lifting weights just has a way of making you feel untouchable, on top of the world – it can make you feel epic. So wouldn’t it suck if an injury stopped you from training? Of course it would, so whilst stretching and mobility is not as much fun as lifting it’s still very important and should be factored into your program. You only need to do 5-10 minutes of work combining stretches and mobility drills, that will warm you up nicely for the workout in hand and help correct any imbalances and tight areas. For example – ankle, hip and chest stretches would be great before a squat session as well as some mobility exercises for the knees, back and shoulders.
So there it is folks, simple steps that should help you put together your own program design. If you would like any tips on stretches and mobility drills to enhance your movement and training simply email us at [email protected]
Equally if you want to take part in a structured, progressive, enjoyable and rewarding training plan, complimented by awesome nutrition and educational webinars then you may want to check out our Ultimate January Detox. Here we take you on an interactive journey that ensures you dominate in the gym and the kitchen.