How frustrating is it when you head to the supermarket without knowing exactly what to buy. I’ve been there many times, endlessly wondering the aisles piling my basket with random crap only to get home and find I can’t create a single decent meal....enter beans, tuna and cheese! I love to plan my meals, make a list, get in and out before I’m tempted by the half priced red wine.
How frustrating is it when you go to the gym without knowing exactly what exercise to perform? Actually I don’t know because this never happens to me. Years of experience plus a large amount of trial and error have provided a program structure that works wonders.
I rarely write down what I’m going to train in advance, I simply follow a system and a goal. This short article will describe how you can do the same. No more wasted sessions, random & pointless exercises and more importantly you won’t wander around the gym like a lost child.
Step 1 – Training Goals
You must have some form of goal, example ‘shoulder press your bodyweight’,’ perform 1 full pistol squat’ or ‘5 strict pull ups’. At this stage try to stay away from generic goals such as lose weight or get bigger, be more specific. This isn’t an article about goal setting so let’s assume that’s covered.
Step 2 – The Training Plan
This plan is broken down into 4 parts each is performed in order, one after the other:
2 – Main Lift & Fillers – The meat of your exercise, this is where you pick an exercise that closely relates to your goal, or 'a bang for your buck' exercise. These exercises typically include squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, bench presses. The reps are generally under 5 reps because the goal is building strength, the rest is long and perfect form is critical. If you're not sure which exercise to select I would recommend the deadlift, if you've never deadlifted before ask a professional to help.
During rest periods you will perform ‘fillers’. Fillers are corrective, mobility, stability or smaller muscle movements that will aid the main lift. You simply perform 2-3 filler exercises for 2 sets during your rest period. Note, this isn’t 2 sets during every rest period, its 2 sets total during the whole time you’re performing the main lift.
Examples of filler to be paired with main lifts:
3 - Secondary Lift / Circuit – At this point you can make one of two selections:
Select 2-4 exercises from the list below, perform 5-10 reps for each exercise, 3 sets maximum, tempo is controlled, rest period is short. You may perform the exercise as a circuit or complete all sets of exercise 1, followed by all sets of exercise 2, followed by all sets of exercise 3 etc.
Typical exercises that will fit into this section are:
Pull ups, single leg exercise, press ups, rowing movement, sit up variations, glute-ham raises, back extensions, split squats, step ups, shoulder presses, carries and walks, turkish get-ups, leg raises, dips, chest & back flys
4 – Finisher – You managed to reach the final step. This section is completely goal specific and optional. Essentially we take 1-2 sets of 1-2 exercises and go balls to the wall. Here are some examples of goals with related finishers.