This is a very special post for me because for YEARS I worked out improperly. After years of doing it wrong I hired a personal trainer who helped me finally figure out how to get myself results. That being said I think anyone from seasoned athletes to brand new lifters who still use gloves can benefit from this post.
The first thing you need to do when building a workout program is set some goals. No, I’m not talking about “getting healthier”. I’m talking about clear goals. What does “getting healthier mean to you? Do you want to get stronger? Do you want to lose fat? Do you want to build muscle? Maybe you want all three. To be safe i would say set at least two goals. So, just to put some knowledge out there I’m going to cover all three goals.
1. Get stronger
Getting stronger is all about PROGRESSION. What does that mean? Well in basic terms it means overloading your body in small increments until the weight or exercises that you choose become easier. Now, let me break this down so you can understand it. Let’s say you want to get stronger on your bench press. There are a few ways you can overload your body progressively. One way is to add weight every two weeks. Once you can complete three sets of ten with a certain weight then you can increase the weight by five or ten pounds and drop the rep range to six or eight. Another way is to get stronger in complimenting exercises. The bench press uses the chest, shoulders, and triceps to press the bar off the chest. This means if you train all three body parts with different exercises the body will progressively get stronger. For your shoulders you could use military press and for the triceps you could use rope extensions. Another way to get stronger is to work out based on a rate of perceived exertion. For example; week one let’s say you lift 100lbs ten times at a rate of six (Assuming the scale of exertion is 1-10, one being the easiest, 10 being the hardest). Then week two you lift 120lbs eight times at a rate of eight. The following week you would lift 140lbs six times at a rate of ten. After this you would repeat the process adding five to ten pounds to each week (Week 1 105lbs x 10, Week 2 125lbs x 8, week 3 145lbs x 6). The last tip i have for this is to drop your rep ranges. Most people in the gym never venture out of the eight to fifteen range. Strength is best built in the one to five rep range. If you use one or all of these three methods you should see immediate results with your strength.
2. Build Muscle
So, this goes hand in hand with getting stronger. In order to build muscle you have to progressively lift more weight. But, there’s more to it than that. Building muscle also comes down to training volume. You can increase the volume of your training by adding sets and reps to your exercises. If you currently do three sets of ten you could change to doing four sets of twelve. Another way to increase the volume would be to use multiple exercises for the same muscle group. Going back to the previous example; if you currently use bench press for your chest you could add dips and incline dumbbell press to increase the volume. This brings me to my next point, hit the muscle from multiple angles. For the chest you could use a flat movement, a decline movement, and a fly movement. Last but not least, adding to the concept of volume is training whatever muscle group you want to focus on multiple times per week. For me personally arms was my hardest area to grow, which sucks because all guys want a nice set of guns. There was a time in my training that I was working them three times a week just to make them grow. Now, don’t misunderstand me. If you are a new lifter training arms three days a week is going to do more harm than good, but is a useful tip after you have some training experience under your belt.
3. Lose Fat
This is the big one. It is probably the reason most of you are reading this article. Everyone these days wants to “tone up” When it comes to fat loss you have to look at it two ways. One, how can I burn the most amount of calories in the shortest time. Two, how can I increase my metabolism so that my body will accelerate fat loss without having to insanely restrict my food intake. In my experience the answer to both of these questions is circuit training. Obviously circuit training is not the be all end all of fat loss. But, for the average person, it works the best in the shortest period of time. Circuit training has a two fold benefit. One, you are lifting weight so you are building muscle which will increase your metabolism. For every pound of muscle that you add your body will burn an extra 50 calories per day at rest. Two, circuit training keeps your body moving so you are burning extra calories by keeping your heart rate elevated. The higher your heart rate the more calories you burn. Yes, you can spend an hour on the treadmill, but you will only be burning calories not building muscle. So, for the average person circuit training allows you to burn a ton of calories while building muscle, and its fun. Let me be clear about this, fat loss comes from a total calorie deficit. You will never outwork an excessive calorie intake. Also as I said losing fat comes down to total activity and intake so it can be done without using circuits. But, in my opinion circuits will always reign superior for the average person. Another thing you can do to expedite the fat loss process is use compound exercises. Think about it squats burn moire calories than bicep curls because they are working several muscles instead of just one. Fat loss can also be achieved by simply doing more activity. If you are currently working out three times a week and your fat loss results have stalled try adding in another day of exercise. The most important thing to remember with fat loss is not to get stuck on the treadmill. A lot of people will run until their legs fall off only to realize that they aren’t getting the results that they want. Don’t get me wrong distance running burns a lot of calories, but once the workout is done your body returns to its normal state. Whereas lifting weights burns calories while you’re doing it and can even keep your metabolism elevated for two to three hours after a workout. Running also in the long term starts to slow the rate at which you burn calories during exercise. The reasons why this happens is when you run for long periods of time your body tries to become more efficient at using calories so it will hold on to them rather than use them. When you run for a long time your body becomes unsure how long the activity will continue so it adapts and burns less calories. This is why to any client that I have I always recommend weights first and then a small amount of cardio post workout.
So, now that you have all this useful information floating around in your head it’s time to put it all together. First, what are your goals? Once you have figured those out you can start building a program. Want to burn fat and build certain areas? Cool, use circuits that focus on total body movements but use more volume with the areas of your body that you want to target. Want to get stronger and lose fat? Cool, use circuit training with lower rep ranges and progression. Want to get stronger and build muscle? Awesome, use progression and volume. Train some days with low reps on the exercises you want to get stronger. Then train other days with more reps and sets for the body parts you want to build. Want to do all three? Split your training between circuits with low reps, and circuits with higher reps and more volume. Also add in some singular exercises for the areas you want to get stronger, and the areas you want to build muscle.
Well guys, i hope this helps at least a little bit. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to training, If anyone has anyone questions or wants to know more feel free to contact me. Stay strong guys.
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.