How to Structure A Workout [or Fitness Routine] That Yields Results! – On Your Time
Having spent a decade and a half in fitness, with a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science, working with both professional and recreational athletes, I can single handedly say that the biggest hurdle we deal with in fitness today is thinking that our goals cannot be met with a variety of training options. That misconception leaves a lot of people in an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, which leads to failure simply because we cannot always be our ALL.
The simple fact that many neglect to consider is that while working out correctly is an essential part of your success, there are many ways to do it right. You can train in short bursts, longer less frequent workouts, a mixture of the two.
You can use the full scale of your gym or the small and cozy area of your living-room to train and see results.
You can use bands, weight bars, kettlebells and body weight to get things done effectively. The key is knowing what works and what doesn’t, and that starts with understanding the real purpose of strength training. Only then will you know how to use it to achieve virtually anything you want.
The Science of Strength
Strength and conditioning, when applied correctly can help you significantly decrease both acute and especially ‘over-use’ injuries.
Strength training can:
Help get rid of stubborn elbow, neck, knee and back pain.
Help you get stronger and better at virtually anything you choose to do physically.
Help you lose and maintain weight
Get faster, and more!
Strength and conditioning will most certainly help you avoid injury and it will help enhance your performance on and off of the gym floor.
Why else do you suppose every professional athlete has a separate strength and conditioning routine? Olympians, professional football players, basketball players, swimmers, you name it. They all take on strength and conditioning routines outside of their art or sport. They do this because in competitive sports there is no room to leave any possible variable on the table.
Every bit of edge is needed to complete and win, and strength training gives any person (professional athletes or not) a real chance to enhance performance and lessen the potential for injury and over use and achieve optimal body composition.
How Can You Use It To Your Advantage?
Simply incorporating strength training into any workout program will give you the edge in fitness and health. And it will give you the luxury to pick a variety of workout options that will work for you.
When Structing a Workout Follow 3 Basic Rules
The key is simple, in your workouts you must do all of three things (nothing more and nothing less):
Strength train measurably and consistently.
The key is to make sure what you do, engages the muscles safely, and enough, to facilitate change.
Strength train the body in all movement patterns.
Make sure it is consistent enough for you to progress, and that it challenges and engages every movement pattern to cover all muscle groups.
If you employ these three basics, you can place your workout in any context you want: 20 minutes daily, 30 minutes every other day, 60 minutes twice a week.
This is not as complicated as you may think, and it is also essential to your success in any workout. When you structure a workout, any workout, you must make sure it is balanced in all movement patterns. If you are pushing (a push-up as one example) you should also pull (pull-up or row). If you squat or lunge (bending at the knee) you must also hip hinge (think deadlifts, glute bridges, kettlebell swings).
The simplest way to do this is to have a push, pull, hip hinge and knee bend in every workout you do. So long as you balance the workout in all areas of movement you will see great results with any tool or amount of time, reps and sets.
Strength training can consist of:
Body weight resistance:
Such as walking lunges, body weight squats, push-ups, pull-ups as one example.
Loading with a variety of tools:
Such as kettlebells, dumbbells, weight-bars or gym machines.
Or even incorporate resistance bands, sand bags, boulders – basically anything you can think of.
They key to using weight is to make sure you can progressively use the weights; if you begin lifting 5 pounds, you should eventually gradate to 8, 10, 20. The same can be applied to heavier resistance bands and if training with no weight, more repetitions with greater ease.
To make sure you are making such progress training consistently on a schedule is a must!
In reality you can train 2x a week for an hour and if that hour is engaging and has a high level of difficulty with form, you will make great progress in all of your goals. The key is not to overdo a week and then do nothing the next. The key is to make a schedule you can live with and live up-to.
So long as you follow the 3 rules above you can work-out anywhere, any time and in any way or level of intensity you see fit – all with results.
How do you know when it’s working?
When we look at change in the body we look for progress through evolution; let’s say you were able to do two push-ups, and now you can do four. That is the exact type of change we are looking for, having more ability and strength. When you see that type of progress you will see physically change as well, looking and feeling fitter stronger and all around better.
Wrong Ways To Train
Sure, there are countless ways to work-out and get results. Just follow the three rules above and place your workout into any context. However, there are a few things that you cannot do.
A scenario where some weeks you get into the gym and other weeks you skip training all together. You go all out and then you fall off. Your body requires a specific formula of consistent stress and tension in order to yield results.
Burning off what you ate;
Another common and very debilitating misconception; the idea that you can eat a thousand calorie ice cream tub and then go and burn a thousand calories on the elliptical and be ‘even’. Sadly this is not the case, food and exercise have a very important hormonal effect on the body that goes far beyond calorie pluses and minuses.
Cardio is king;
It really isn’t. While getting your heart rate up is really good for you, the best stressor on the body for health, strength and weight-loss is strength training. Any type of resistance training. The very best and most sustainable results have been proven to be induced by stressing the muscles and having them adapt to demands of load.
Sports do not replace your workout.
Sure, there are cross-overs, but the truth is that if you want to perform at your best, maintain the ability to play sports, and be highly active through every stage of your life; having a solid strength and conditioning routine is the key to sustaining that longevity.
So, there it is, the idea that one size fits all isn’t true; your workout can vary greatly. Where, what tools you use and how long you train are all up to you. But, to have this type of luxury you must follow the 3 basic rules outlined above. So long as you do that your training will help you progress and reach any and all of your goals.
Photography by: David Gannon