Confused In The Gym? Use This Workout Plan

 In Blog

Exercise on a time budget

As a personal trainer, I hear the same two things almost everyday. One of them is “I just don’t know what to do in the gym.” The other is “I’m doing everything and nothing is happening.” Well, it’s the holiday season and I’m in a giving mood. What I’m about to tell you will answer both questions and help you design a workout plan that can deliver results.

A lot of people go to the gym, but very few have an idea of what to do. I like to tell clients that you want to get in, and get out so you can move on with your life. The best way to do this is to have a plan – that will stop you from meandering around the gym and kind of doing something….but kind of not? In the end, you’ve spent three hours in the gym with nothing to show for it. That’s not something you want to brag about. Remember, get in, get out.

Sadly, people forget that training is all about getting results. After three months, your body should look different than it did the day you first stepped foot into your gym. You don’t have to model underwear but you need to be in a better place: leaner, stronger – just something to show for your efforts.

This is a problem solved by having a little blueprint of what to do in the gym.

They say in strength training that “you can’t go wrong with strong.” So when in doubt, simply try to get stronger. This will be the basis of your plan and you can then tweak everything else based on your preferences. Getting stronger does two things:

  1. Makes life easier. The basis of doing anything is your body’s ability to create force. Getting out of a chair, running, carrying groceries are all tasks that start with force production. So getting stronger means you’ll be better at doing a lot of cool things.
  2. You have a basis for what to do in the gym. Your job is now to do more than the last time you came to workout. Now we’re talking about progressions. No two workouts will ever be exactly the same, which is a good thing.

Setting PR’s is a good place to go. What this means is that if you lifted 100 pounds for 8 reps, now try to get 9 or 10. Or lift 110 pounds for 8 reps. This means you have a specific job for each session, along with actually being motivated to get your hiney to the gym.

Now we just have to set up your week. The easiest way to do this is to simply assign a movement to each day. It looks like this:

Monday – Deadlift Variation (conventional, sumo, snatch)

Tuesday – Vertical or Horizontal Press (flat, incline, overhead, push)

Thursday – Squat Variation (back, front, box)

Friday– Other press. So if Tuesday is bench press, this day is an overhead.

This system leaves you a little more fresh for the challenging lower body movements. It also frees up your weekends – just don’t spend them undoing all the awesome progress during the week.

All that’s left to do is to simply plug in what you want to do next.

If you want to improve your conditioning, simply run, row, or ride after your lifting. We in the sports medicine community call this “energy system training.” This is useful for people who want to lose weight. In fact, my wife used this approach to get back in shape after having a baby.

If you want more muscle mass, just pick assistance lifts that go with the lifts. On deadlift day, you do some leg curls. Bench day requires your incline press and triceps extensions. Jim Wendler’s Boring But Big is a great mass program that incorporates barbell training – you can literally do it in your garage.

Is this the best workout ever? No, it’s not. But it will help deliver results and keep you motivated to workout. And that’s a far better use of your time than sitting on the internet looking for what to do next in the gym.

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