Thanks to everyone for the response to my blog post last week – it was really appreciated. So often I spend a few hours on a Sunday trying to ‘come up with words’ and it really does feel like I’m shouting at a cloud…to have so many people prepared to make a comment last week was great and I would LOVE for that to continue – I guess, after 13 years who am I kidding right but still, it would be NICE!
Before I start with this week’s post, let me say that every day (at some time) I have a bit of a moment where I say to myself that I’m lucky as hell to be able to not only train, but work at Round 1. I never get tired of new people coming into the gym and seeing the environment we (well, Mr Ying Yang himself, Boris has) have created – we really do have two awesome gyms in one – an awesome Boxing for Fitness gym and a pretty amazing strength and conditioning gym. On several occasions I’ve had people tell me that it’s one of the best training environments they’ve ever been around – we DO have a lot of fun and understand that there’s a social aspect to training, but we also recognize that *MOST* people come to us because we don’t mess around. They’re here to train – simple as that – and we TRAIN!
I guess it is this last piece that is so often the hardest piece to reconcile with people coming from other facilities – particularly those coming from globo-gym style environments. What do I mean by that? A facility filled with ‘stuff’ – treadmills, free-weights, machines – but where the onus is on each member to either come up with their own program or hire a dedicated trainer to guide them through each workout. Having a trainer one-on-one is an awesome way to go of course – but if you are following the recommended 3x 52 training strategy (3x sessions each week, 52 weeks of the year)…and the trainer is $100/hour (conservative)…well, your gym costs just went up over $1400/month – which is out of reach for most people. SO – what ends up happening is they spend a LOT of time training independently.
Why can training independently be bad? Well – it isn’t BAD (I still think it 100% beats doing nothing at all!!) – but what it can be is a little less than optimal. Most people tend to ‘drift’ between their ‘favourite’ 4-5 exercises – doing a couple of sets and moving on and splitting the activities with some mobile phone time. Essentially what ends up happening is they train without a lot of direction or purpose…and after 30-40 minutes leave the gym a little sweaty but overall a little dissatisfied with their efforts. To be FAIR, so often we see some of the same stuff happening at Round 1 – people miss their class or are ‘doing their own thing’ to manage either their time or an injury – and what ends up happening is if they DON’T have a plan they roll pretty aimlessly between the bikes and the Hammer Strength gear…if they DO have a plan, they finish around 60% of everything listed before calling it a day. SO, today I would like to present my ‘How to Construct your OWN WORKOUT 101’ plan.
When you put the warm-up together, you need to remind yourself that the ‘purpose’ is to get yourself moving and both your BODY + Mind ready to go. Make it simple – 10 calories bike, 10x Squats, 10x Pushups, 5x lunges each side, 5x pull-ups, all x 2…aim is not to set a world record – just move steadily through the movements and identify any ‘sticky’ points.
Next, Body Prep
OK – so when you warmed up you found a ‘sticky’ spot ‘somewhere’ – back, hamstring, shoulder…whatever and wherever. Address that NOW. Stretch it, roll it, whatever. Then – FORGET IT. You have dealt with it. You are (in most cases) not injured – you are just a little sore/tight and (to quote some bloke) “You’re gonna be OK”.
Part 3 – Get your mind right, let’s Rock and Roll
Once upon a time THIS would be the point where I would move into the day’s compound movement – a squat, deadlift, press, whatever. But these days this is ‘time to go’. Choose 4-exercises and roll between them at 80% + intensity for 12-minutes. I like to pick a focus of upper or lower and do TWO exercises, do ONE of the ‘other’ and ONE that is ‘cardio’ based and really get going.
Here are some examples:
|Workout 1||Workout 2||Workout 3|
|Minute 1||Kettlebell Swings||Hammer Strength: Jammer Press||Double DB Push-Press|
|Minute 2||Hammer Strength: Shoulder Press||10x Mountain Climbers + 5x Pushups (x 2)||Dumbbell Renegade Rows (with Pushup)|
|Minute 3||8x KB Lunges (each side)||12x 1 + ½ KB Goblet Squats||Double Dumbell Walking Lunges|
|Minute 4||15 Calories Row||20 Calories Bike||50m Sled Push|
|Complete 3x Rounds (12-Minutes) of Each Circuit|
Part 4 – Main Set
OK. Couple of choices here. But it comes down to one simple thing – what is the primary goal of today’s session? Is your current dream strength or cardio related. Because that’s where we are headed – right into the heart of our workout and we have set aside between 15-25-minutes to get it done.
If we have a cardio based focus then it is INTERVAL time. Think ‘simple but challenging’ – for example, using the rower complete (boys) 450m every 2-mins (girls can drop this target back to 400m). You want to end up with a 3:1 or 4:1 work:rest ratio – so if you are achieving 450m in 1:30 or so (achievable) then you will get a 30-second break before you need to go again. When calculating these work:rest ratios, you have to remember that after 7 or 8 intervals, you will probably find yourself getting LESS rest…that’s OK (in fact it’s what you want in many ways). Don’t reduce the distance to make the target achievable as you go – that’s not what you want. But OBVIOUSLY if you are struggling to keep up the pace on the very first round, you have probably been too aggressive.
Examples: Main set cardio
|Example #1||Complete 450/400m Row/Ski Every 2 minutes for 20 Minutes (rest for the remainder of the 2-minute interval).|
|Example #2||Complete 10x SUCCESSFUL 120m Rows with a 20-second time-cap. Rest as required.|
|Example #3||Complete 15 calories on the Versa Climber every minute for 15 minutes.|
|Example #4||Complete 1400m Bike/SPARC every 3-minutes for 8-rounds.|
I’m all for ‘LONG DURATION’ cardio activities when they are based on achieving a specific goal. To run a marathon, you need to do one x LONG run each week where the distance steadily increases to around 35kms or so (peaking at that number approx 2-3 weeks prior to the event). But outside of the 1x long ‘body prep’ run, the majority of the rest of your training should be focussed on high intensity intervals rather than just heading out the door and running at a slow & steady pace. The same applies to swimmers and cyclists…YES – you need some long duration work into you – if you are going to run for 4-hours then you need to practice at least running 3 + ½ at some point – BUT long runs/rides/swims every day and going to suck the time out of your day and all of the ‘life’ out of your body!
Back to the ‘plan’, if your main set is going to be strength based, then you want to choose a single compound movement – for example, a squat variation, deadlift, bench press, overhead press – AND a secondary movement that will work as a contrast. For example, you might choose ‘pull-ups’ if you are squatting. You might choose bent-over rows if you are bench-pressing. From there, work your set like this:
Examples: Strength Warm-ups
|Warm-up #1||Using the empty bar, complete 10-12 reps of the movement.|
|Warm-up #2||Increase to 40% of target weight, complete 8 reps.|
|Warm-up #3||Increase to 60% of target weight, complete 5x reps.|
You will notice I am talking about %’s and target weights and all sorts of stuff. It’s tricky here as I am assuming a certain amount of knowledge – but ultimately even if it is your first session you can follow this methodology but you need to replace the % number with “increase by a LITTLE BIT”. Remember, with strength work slow and steady wins the race – if you do the same exercise each week and increase by 2.5kgs each week, well, in 12-months time you will be lifting 100kgs more than you lifted today. So just start LIGHT and understand that when you get started ‘lifting’ it is a LOOOONG game and more about dialling in technique than challenging yourself with weight.
As for %-based lifting, well…that’s a can of worms all unto itself. %-based lifting is GREAT in terms of tracking progress/managing progress. But it doesn’t account for the fact that some days you just FEEL better than others…there are days when we are all jumping out of our skin, other days when, well, getting out of bed alone feels like a challenge. But I think as long as you use it as a %- with a ‘how i feel’ allowance built in, it IS going to be more than OK.
So – 3x warm-up sets down – now it’s time to ‘GO’:
|Set#1: Prep||5x Reps @ 80% of TODAY’S TARGET Weight.8x Reps @ 100% of today’s secondary exercise|
|Set#2: Prep||5x Reps @ 90% of TODAY’S TARGET Weight.8x Reps @ 100% of today’s secondary exercise|
|Set 3||5x Reps @ 100% of TODAY’S TARGET Weight.8x Reps @ 100% of today’s secondary exercise|
|Set 4||5x Reps @ 100% of TODAY’S TARGET Weight.8x Reps @ 100% of today’s secondary exercise|
|Set 5||5x Reps @ 100% of TODAY’S TARGET Weight.8x Reps @ 100% of today’s secondary exercise|
Question: What is today’s target weight? Well, the answer to that could be ‘how long is a piece of string’. It really does depend on the individual, their experience, how they are feeling, what they have planned for tomorrow etc. This is where it is just so critical to be following a program (and why we encourage our FIFO members to continue to follow the Functional Fitness strength progressions we publish on SugarWOD each day even when they are away on-site). So setting weight aside, if we were to turn the above example into reality, it might look like this:
|Set#1: Prep||Bench Press – 5x Reps @ 80% Single Arm KB Rows – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set#2: Prep||Bench Press – 5x Reps @ 90% Single Arm KB Rows – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set 3||Bench Press – 5x Reps @ 1000% Single Arm KB Rows – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set 4||Bench Press – 5x Reps @ 1000% Single Arm KB Rows – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set 5||Bench Press – 5x Reps @ 1000% Single Arm KB Rows – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
OR if you wanted to see a Back Squat example:
|Set#1: Prep||Back Squat – 5x Reps @ 80% OHG Pull-ups – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set#2: Prep||Back Squat – 5x Reps @ 90% OHG Pull-ups – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set 3||Back Squat – 5x Reps @ 1000% OHG Pull-ups – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set 4||Back Squat – 5x Reps @ 1000% OHG Pull-ups – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
|Set 5||Back Squat – 5x Reps @ 1000% OHG Pull-ups – ES – 8x Reps @ 100%|
From there it is pretty simple. If time is ‘unlimited’ and I had just completed a strength workout, well…my plan would to do between 8-12-minutes ‘solid’ cardio – like a 3km row for example – then have a quick walk/stretch and call it a day. If I needed to get on going – quick walk (2 minutes) and stretch/roll any ‘sticky bits’…done.
If I had done the Cardio focussed version of the workout I would be trying to settle down my CNS/get my heart rate down and relax before a quick stretch and home – either finish with a walk (4-5minutes) or laying on the ground with my feet up on the wall – just resetting, making sure my body knew we were ‘done’ before stretching and moving on with the day.
Other advice? I guess don’t stress too much about going too heavy too soon – just focus on a slow and steady build (but make sure you are recording your progress AND increasing!!)…technique needs to be ‘great’ before you worry too much about becoming the worlds strongest man/woman…but I guess I already said that.
Anyway – that’s about that. Following a structured plan is obviously best – but if you are making up your own ‘workout’ just following a pretty basic roadmap like the one I have documented above can really help you maximise your time/outcomes at the gym!
Have a great Sunday – see you in the gym,
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