We’re all a little different. From our anatomy to our goals to things we like to do. ow we utilize them is completely different. Just go to the gym and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some people are hitting the treadmill; some are in the corner only doing crunches, while others are lifting some weight.
Each person is going to have his or her own workout that they love to do, but what they do may not work for you. You’re different. In order to get a training program that works for you, you need to decide on a goal. And not something that’s generic like lose weight or tone up. Get down to specifics, and preferably something tangible and measurable. Then its time for some soul searching.
- Why do you want that goal?
- What will attaining that goal look like?
- How will your life be different once you achieve it?
Up next…how much time do you have to dedicate to that goal and to your training program? There is no right or wrong answer here, but its more of an honest assessment of what you can 100% without a doubt dedicate. It could be 30 minutes, 4 days a week and that’s ok. It is what you can REALISTICALLY accomplish. Consistency is the name of the game here, so if you say 5 days a week and you skip days, you missed the point.
Next up is picking out how much time you have to dedicate to your workout routine. Some people only have 30 minutes while others have a lot more time to put into their training. Neither is wrong or bad, it’s just a fact of life. Some people have more time. In addition to the amount of time spent per day on training, it’s important to narrow down how often you want to train per week.
Take an honest assessment of how your body moves and how it feels. Take a look at what you do on a daily basis in terms of positions you are in the most, how much sitting you do, how your body feels throughout the day. This can go a long way towards determining what movements will work best for you, what movements you should avoid for now and where you should start.
This can include exercises to activate certain muscles, exercises that can fix a weakness, or exercises that can help bring more mobility to a certain movement. These are going to be up to you based on where you think your body’s weaknesses are. Mobility, not to be confused with flexibility, which is largely neurological, is being able to move while keeping stability. Most people can use some mobility work in certain areas, while others don’t need much at all. This can be solved with some gentle stretching, foam rolling and other SMR techniques to help you move better.
Now in my opinion, everyone should start with a routine that emphasized learning proper mechanics followed by strength training once those mechanics are nailed down.
Building strength is a matter of intensity in terms of weight lifted and staying within a rep scheme of 1-6 reps. Go too light with the intensity of your lift and you risk blending into our next adaptation of hypertrophy. Now in the beginning, strength gains are going to be a neurological adaptation as your body adapts to a new stimulus. However once that beginner period ends, your muscles will start to get stronger.
You’re going to want to place your strength based exercises at the beginning of your program because they are going to require the most attention, both muscularly and neurologically. You’ll want to avoid putting them later as you want to be fresh for them.
Assistance exercises are those that are meant to enhance your main lift, but they can also touch on other areas of the body in order to get a full body workout. These assistance exercises can be programmed in different ways depending on what the goal of the program is. They can be used for hypertrophy, muscular endurance, and as conditioning using something like density sets.
Building muscle requires a specific stimulus in order for them to grow. Much like using a low rep range for building strength, hypertrophy will use a more moderate rep range of 6-12 or 15 depending on who you ask. The key is using a load that challenges that rep range. Picking up a 5lb dumbbell and doing 12 reps of bicep curls isn’t going to do anything if your bicep can handle 20lbs at 12 reps. Be smart with your choice of exercise but also your choice of intensity.
Additionally, this is the range you’ll want to challenge yourself in, if you want to properly develop your muscles as well. What’s even better is that the strength you built from the above section can later translate into a greater load you can use during your muscle building or hypertrophy exercises. Talk about gains!
As you’ve seen, strength and hypertrophy training requires keeping intensity at specific rep ranges. Endurance on the other hand will be anything over 15 reps. This can include the corrective exercises we discussed earlier.
Because we all want to believe we worked hard, so we do things that will make us sweat or breathe heavy, conditioning exercises are a great way to wrap up your workout routine. Conditioning circuits or even individual exercises like sprints can burn fat and increase work capacity in short, intense bursts. Just make sure you pick exercises that you can do safely at a high intensity.
What exercises should you use? Well, there are countless exercises you can use to accomplish your goals. However it comes down to a few specific movement patterns, seven to be exact. I don’t want to go into too much detail, otherwise this article will never end, but pick exercises that belong to these movement patterns and you can’t go wrong.
- Rotation or Anti-Rotation
- Single Leg/Gait
Strength exercises can be hypertrophy exercises which can also be muscular endurance exercises. It really depends on the intensity at which you work.
Another important thing to note when setting up your workout routine is to find exercises you enjoy. Simply because if you don’t enjoy doing them, you’re likely to stop exercising all together and give up. Now this doesn’t mean pick easy exercises, you need to challenge yourself; it just means pick ones that will keep you compliant with the routine. Hating exercises and struggling with exercises are two different things. If you struggle with an exercise, it means you have to work a little harder at it. Try to avoid giving up on it because it’s hard. If you hate it because it causes pain etc, that’s a different story.
Remember there isn’t one best workout routine. There are only guidelines on how to create a routine. The best routine is the one you will do.