Let me ask you a question: When you head to the gym each day, do you do so without a clue as to what body part and/or exercises you are going to do? Or do you make sure you have a solid game plan in mind? If the former is true, then I suggest you quickly make a change! “Have a plan, or plan to fail.” In fact, I usually put together each workout in my head the night before I am to do it, which allows me to embed it deep into my subconscious while I sleep. In turn, both my mind and body are quite prepared for the impending battle that will take place in the gym the following day.
Now, since some of you may not be the best at planning your workouts, I present to you a little “guide” that I personally use to assist in creating the most effective routines week after week. I will break this down into two parts – the individual movements to be performed and the overall body part workout, as each of these areas have separate considerations, but will come together to manifest what will eventually take place in the gym.
My Considerations for the Exercises:
-Which movements did I use for my last workout for the same body part?
-When thinking about it, which exercises get me the most amped up and psyched to perform that day?
-How is my body feeling overall? Any joint or lower back pain that would compromise my performance on certain movements that day?
-What kind of workout will I be doing? Higher reps/lower weight or lower reps/higher weight? A mix of each?
-What movements will best address the weaknesses I see in that body part?
My Considerations for the Overall Routine:
-I want to make sure that each movement in the workout hits the muscle from a unique angle of push or pull to affect different sets of motor unit pools.
-I generally like to use the “Positions of Flexion” concept, meaning that I want to choose at least one exercise that emphasizes the midrange, stretch, and peak contraction phase of the ROM (range of motion).
-I most often like to include at least one unilateral movement (single arm/single leg) per session for a given muscle group.
-I generally include one BB and one DB exercise per session for a given muscle group.
-Each workout will combine 1-2 free-weight movements, as well as one cable and one machine-based exercise.
So, as you can see, plenty of thought goes into the creation of each my workouts, but after 20 straight years in the gym I believe that a very analytical approach to training is necessary in order to continue to progress at this point in my career. I hope the points listed above will help you to make every one of your workouts more efficient and effective!