- What is the goal of your workout?
Before you hit the gym you need to know your goal. What is your purpose when you step inside the gym? Perhaps you are training at home. The same rule applies.
Depending on your goal will determine how your program is structured. If your goal is fat loss then the program will look different to a mass gain program.
Creating a fat loss program requires you incorporate super sets, drop sets, cardio, and short rest periods.
A mass gain program would have longer rest periods and limited cardio.
- Plan a week ahead.
The people who don’t get results are the ones who don’t plan. They wander through the gym unsure of what exercise they will choose next. Chances are they are doing 3 sets of 10. The same rep range for the last 4 years.
Plan your workout a week prior. This allows you time to think in a relaxed state. Think of what exercise combinations you would like to try. Jump on Youtube for ideas or follow a proven workout program.
I plan mine with what I need to do. Not with what I want to do. This simply means, instead of planning in a day of bicep curls, I plan a day of sprints, pull ups, burpees, crazy super sets that scare me, and whatever else I need to do to reach my goal.
- Eat before your workout.
Have a solid meal prior to your workout. Food brings fuel. That fuel will allow you to train harder in the gym and keep catabolic hormones lower. If you train harder, you burn more fat and build more muscle. If you train fasted, your body needs to find fuel from somewhere. Most people would assume that will come from body fat.
It also comes from amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. This is what muscle is made out. You are training your body to use muscle as fuel. I know I would rather use carbs.
Christian Thibaudeau put it like this, “Fasted cardio works, but only if you’re on performance-enhancing drugs to protect your muscle. Otherwise it stinks.”
Aim for a handful of carbohydrates and a palm sized protein source an hour prior to your workout. Choose fast digesting options such as, egg whites on a tortilla wrap. These won’t sit in your gut and leave you feeling heavy during your workout.
- Prioritize Compound Lifts
The more muscles used in a lift, the greater the calorie burn. Since we tend to go heavier on compound lifts, we ought to put them first when we have the most energy. Save the calf raises for the end of the workout.
The best compound lifts are:
- Bench Press
- Pull Ups
- Bent Over Rows
- Clean and Press
- Maximize Rest Periods
If your goal is fat loss, keep rest periods short. If your goal is mass then take a little longer. Say, 30-60 seconds longer at most.
By resting less, you have less time to recover. This pushes your body harder into a fat burning state where it will use more oxygen. The result is more calories burned.
When it comes to mass, take a little longer so you can come back and stress the target muscle as much as possible.
- Utilize Advanced Techniques
If you stick to 3 sets of 10 you will not succeed. Adding something as simple as a dropset can increase calorie burn on that exercise by over 30%. If your goal is to get shredded then you might even add a minute of cardio in between each set. The science is very clear that you will skyrocket your fat burning and even increase muscle gains with the added cardio.
Training for mass is exciting. Blood flow restriction training and intra-set stretching are my favourite techniques for this. Both techniques are extremely anabolic and force the muscle to adapt and grow bigger. These techniques are used in the later stages on SHRED21.
Here is how to perform intra-set stretching:
- Take the set to failure (12-15 reps)
- Stretch the muscle using the weight or machine you are using
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Rest for 30 seconds and do it again for 4 sets.
Tip: Choose an exercise that gives a good pump. This may be pec flys, leg extensions, bicep curls, hamstring curls, lateral pulldown, or overhead tricep extension.
- Challenge Yourself
I always write a program that scares me. I want a program that I dread because it’s so effective. I then like to back it up with a program that is equally as hard. By Friday, I’m done.
If you always stick to your comfort zone, you will remain there.
One way to challenge yourself is to shorten rest periods to 30 seconds (use a stopwatch) and on the last set of every exercise, perform a triple dropset. This means you will take the last set to failure, drop the weight and keep going, drop it again, then drop it once more. This set may last around 40 reps. You will know all about it at the end.
Another great way to add intensity is to pick 2-5 exercises. Complete 5-10 reps of each exercise and repeat the circuit as many times as possible in a given time period (15 minutes). This will not only challenge you physically, but also mentally. Especially if you put burpees in there!
See the video below for another option.