We all know that feeling when you really want to work out, but you’re just not sure what to do, and it’s far too much effort trying to plan something. Maybe it’s just easier not to go? NO! You need a good workout structure! Here are my top four ways to help you structure an effective workout. Just decide what exercises you are going to do, think about what you want to achieve from your session, and choose one of the methods below:
1. SUPER SETS
This is very popular with military training, mainly because you can work a whole load of muscles without a chance to rest – just how they like to make us work! Here, you couple one exercise with another that works a different muscle group. The muscle group can be opposing, such as biceps, then triceps, or unrelated, such as quads then shoulders. The idea here is that because you are using different muscle groups you don’t need to rest, so you can perform one set straight after the other. This not only works your muscles hard, but is also great at getting your heart rate up!
Getting in a hard workout in little time. Due to the lack of rest required, you can work a large range of muscles, hard, in little time.
Watch out for:
Make sure you’ve fuelled your body for this, as it can be quite tough!
You can choose to do a pre-exhaustion super set. That is, work a muscle in isolation, such as a cable tricep extension, then follow it with a compound exercise using that same muscle, such as tricep dips. That way, the triceps are working hard when already fatigued. Feel the burn!
2. DROP SETS
Drop sets are a workout structure used in exercises where you can easily adjust the resistance (weights) such as a barbell squat or bench press. You perform the exercise for around 10-15 reps with as much weight as you can. You should get to around 13 reps and not be able to do anymore. If you can, you started with a weight that is too light. Then, in your rest between sets, you can decrease the weight on the bar, before performing as many reps as you can with this lighter weight. Three drop sets is what you should be aiming for, and you should be lifting to failure each time.
Working your muscles to failure. This is where you will see good strength gains.
Watch out for:
Ensure your starting weight is challenging enough. Each time you perform the exercise you want to be getting to a point between 10-15 reps where you couldn’t possible perform another rep with that weight.
If it is purely strength gains you are after, try starting with an even heavier weight, and decrease the rep range target to 6-8 reps each time.
3. TIME BASED TRAINING
Using time as a measurement for exercises is a great way to push yourself, and measure improvements by recording how many reps you get in each time set. It’s also good if you only have a strict amount of time to workout for. By giving yourself 30 seconds – 1 minute to perform as many reps of an exercise as possible, you will not only challenge your strength, but also your cardiovascular system will be getting a workout!
Cardiovascular speed training such as sprint intervals, with 1 minute on, 1 minute off.
Watch out for:
Never rush an exercise. Always place form over speed. If you feel your reps start to get sloppy, slow it down and focus on execution.
Tabata intervals! This is High Intensity Interval Training at its best! Best done without additional resistance, just body weight exercises, perform an exercise for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 times (yes eight!!), and then switch exercise!
4. NEGATIVE SETS
Weight training is made up of movements towards and against gravity. These movements are called concentric, away from gravity (such as lifting yourself towards the bar in a pull up), and eccentric, working towards gravity (such as lowering yourself down from a pull up). This eccentric movement is known as the negative part of the exercise, and after a heavy session in the gym when you think you can do no more, try adding some negative sets into the equation. Get help during the concentric part of the exercise, either by jumping up to the bar in a pull up, or getting assistance from a workout buddy to lift your weight, and then slowly complete the eccentric phase alone.
Adding to the end of a heavy workout. When your muscles are fatigued they will struggle to perform the concentric part of an exercise, so you can get that little bit more from your workout by adding a few negative sets.
Watch out for:
Performing the exercise too quickly. Make sure you are in control of the movement, hence why it needs to be slow. Don’t let gravity do all the work!
Try an isometric hold (stop moving!) part way through the lowering down phase to really test your control and strength!
Hopefully these will give you a few ideas to help plan your next workout. Do you have a go to workout structure that you just can’t go to the gym without? Share it with us here and we can all fall in love with it! And be sure to sign up for my newsletter where you can get access to me FREE resource library and a whole bunch of goodies!