When it comes to getting long term results, one thing I underscore with all of my clients is that programs trump workouts every time.
What seems to have gained popularity in fitness recently are “metabolic workouts” which consist of examples such as 50 burpees, 50 jump squats, 50 push ups and a mile run.
On the one hand, these workouts appeal because they are easy to execute and remember. On the other hand, my question is whether this can be performed several times per week without injury? (Incidentally, it is MUCH harder to workout hard from a wheel chair)
On the other side of the spectrum, we take pride in screening each client and writing an individualized program based upon their specific goals. This program will generally involve strength training along with cardio and mobility work on off-days.
Because all of this can become a bit confusing, the purpose of this week’s article is to explain what we feel are the essential components of a workout program.
1. Workout preparation:
The one thing we find with most new clients are nagging aches and pains which seem to flair up with exercise (running, strength training, etc). This is often attributed to “tight” muscles, but the problem itself may lie in your preparation.
If you consider that we usually hit the gym after a day of sitting at the computer, wearing heels or standing in place for hours on end, it is no wonder your knees hurt during your run. This is not a matter of having “bum” knees or tight muscles, but rather going from being essentially sedentary to full throttle.
With this in mind, our warm up process is simple:
- Step #1: Foam roll (Self massage to untie knots in tight muscles)
- Step #2: Dynamic warm up (Active stretching to warm muscles up and prepare for movement)
With each activity lasting around five minutes, this simple routine ensures the body is prepared for rigorous exercise.
2. Strength and Conditioning:
This refers to our workout routine on strength training days. After warming up, we want to begin each workout by performing the hardest/heaviest exercises in our routine when we are fresh.
I view getting stronger as the key to developing the body and these are the exercises (we refer to them as our “main lifts”) which will drive this process forward.
Generally, this will consist of an upper body- lower body and core exercise performed for heavy weight and low reps.
Following our first circuit, we will perform 2-4 secondary exercises to work the muscle groups or movements we are targeting for that day. These will generally consist of lighter exercises performed for higher reps.
We will always end our workout with a conditioning activity which trains our endurance and ends the workout on a high (or low) note. Here is an example:
3. Weekly routine
The most important aspect of each fitness program are not the individual workouts, but the cumulative effect of the program over each week. With this in mind, we provide each client with a weekly schedule outlining what to do on a weekly basis:
|Weekly training schedule||What to do|
|Monday||Strength training routine|
|Tuesday||Interval cardio routine + mobility routine|
|Wed||Strength training routine|
|Thursday||Aerobic cardio routine + mobility routine|
|Friday||Strength training routine|
|Saturday||Interval cardio routine + mobility routine|
|Sunday||Complete Rest day|
Once you understand the basic schedule, the rest is simply a matter of understanding how to execute each component of our routine.
4. Logging progress
Undoubtedly the most important aspect of any fitness program is gradually increasing intensity to create continual improvement. This means that with each session, we should try to add difficulty in some fashion.
This can be done a variety of ways based upon the type of training:
- Strength training: Add weight or extra reps if you can do more than prescribed rep range.
- Conditioning: Shorten time it takes to complete workout or perform more reps in each 30-60 second interval
- Cardio: Run a longer distance in a shorter period of time.
Regardless of your chosen activity, we want to track our progress in a weekly workout log. This way, we know that if we do three sets of five reps at 20lbs of a lunge in week one, we can progress by either performing eight reps at the same weight or five reps at 25lbs.
In this same fashion, tracking progress for our conditioning and cardio is a simple way to know what must be done to continue to see progress.
Got questions about your MFIT or workout program? Post questions below!