How to prepare and structure your workouts
Q. Are you ready to exercise? Q. How prepared are you for your session? Q. Do you need guidance on how to structure your workouts?
The number one rule for exercising is, to warm up your body and prepare. You know the saying; Failing to plan, is planning to fail.
In this post you will read a few key essentials to implement, before you go for that run or pick up that barbell!
✅ Establish how you will track your workout sessions and progress. It is advisable to write down all your sessions, you can use a traditional notebook and pen or there are many apps available such as Strava, Gravitus and Strong Lifts.
✅ Wear suitable clothing and ensure you have the correct equipment for your activity.
Depending on the nature of your workout, clothing will vary:
- If you’re going to be doing a lot of running, make sure you get a shoe designed for this.
- People who are lifting weights may want to consider using some gloves to keep their hands in good condition and suitable lifting shoes.
- Home workouts? If you are working out at home, ensure that you have the right equipment and you know how to use it.
- If you are following any of the Power Circle Journey programmes, you will have video demonstrations to help you along the way.
✅ Make sure you have water to hand. Get that water bottle ready for your workout session, hydration is key when breaking a sweat. Being well hydrated will help avoid muscle cramps and reduces body temperature.
✅ Ensure that your body is fuelled. Everyone is different, but I recommend eating approximately 1-2 hours before a workout. This will fuel the workout, so intensity levels hit the appropriate levels, you certainly don’t want to feel light-headed due to low blood sugar. The 1-2 hour window gives the body time to digest and absorb the food, and we don’t want to train on a belly full of food.
✅ Warm up. Ensuring your body is ready, by warming up your muscles is vital. I cover this in more detail in the PHYSICAL HEALTH: MOBILITY & FLEXIBILITY blog article.
✅ Activate your core. Your core is much more than your abdominal muscles, it’s a system of muscles that wraps around your entire torso. These muscles stabilise your body, protect your spine from injury and keep you upright. Fire these muscles before every exercise to keep your back healthy, steady your balance and maintain a rigid body position.
If you are following the Power Circle journey programmes, you will already be accustomed to the structure that following a plan gives you.
However, how do you ensure that a workout programme is effective? How can you structure your workouts to boost your organisational skills?
My main tips to structure your workouts
✔️ Do not perform static stretching before exercise, this can reduce your power output and increase your risk of certain injuries.
✔️ Lift weights, then perform cardio. If you perform your strength training before your cardio work, you’ll burn more fat whilst you go for that run, cycle or jog.
✔️ During a workout, be sure to perform compound exercises that target the large muscles before moving on to the smaller isolated muscles.
✔️ As I have already said, use apps to write your progress down! Keep a training diary and use it to progressively overload your workouts, you will see results and it is very satisfying to visually see progression. This is the very definition of ‘structure your workouts’.
What workout training split will be suitable for you? There are a few factors to consider:
- Your goals: Are you aiming to get stronger, lose bodyweight or gain muscle size?
- Availability and schedule: When do you plan to workout and what’s your work schedule like?
- Training experience: Are you just starting out on your fitness journey or looking to change your current fitness routine?
So, what are the main types of training splits and how do they align with the above factors:
Doing frequent split sessions will greatly enhance your strength and hypertrophy gains.
Push/Pull/Legs Body Split
The push/pull/legs split divides the body up into three groups:
- Push workouts that include chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Pull workouts include back and biceps.
- Leg workouts cover quads, hamstrings and calves.
This split is suitable for people who want to gain muscle size, as more time is focussed on a whole muscle group during one session.
The main benefit to grouping body parts this way, is that it keeps all related muscle groups together in the same workout. This is awesome for avoiding any potential problems with overuse of muscles. This split allows for sufficient recovery by ensuring muscle groups get trained during the same types of exercises. A typical Push/Pull/Legs split routine one week training example:
- Monday: Push
- Tuesday: Pull
- Wednesday: Rest day
- Thursday: Legs
- Friday: Rest day
- Saturday: Push
- Sunday: Pull
Upper/Lower Body Split
The upper/lower split routine splits training on the upper and lower parts of your body. You do upper body exercises one day and lower body exercises another day.
This is a nice split for people who want to get stronger or lose bodyweight, as it allows for frequent training without overuse of a body part, and caters for rest and repair of muscles.
A typical upper/lower split routine one week training example:
- Monday: Upper body
- Tuesday: Lower body
- Wednesday: Rest day
- Thursday: Upper body
- Friday: Lower body
- Saturday: Rest day
- Sunday: Rest day
The Power Circle Strength Programme mainly follows the upper/lower split routine. If you are following this programme, you will need to ensure that you get adequate muscle recovery. My advice is to take at least one day’s rest in-between Day 2 and Day 3 and to take at least one day’s rest in-between Day 4 and New week; Day 1. Another example of this is as follows:
- Monday – TRAIN
- Tuesday – TRAIN
- Wednesday – REST
- Thursday – REST
- Friday – TRAIN
- Saturday – TRAIN
- Sunday – REST
In order to get the most of your programme, rest is very important. Take responsibility for looking after your body; this includes seeing a physiotherapist or sports therapist as soon as you need to. Remember:
“Your health is an investment, not an expense”
Full Body Split
The full body split is based around training most or all of the entire body during each workout, rather than splitting it up into different parts. This can be done two or three times a week, and because it’s a full body workout, there’s a lot of muscle groups to get through, therefore you will typically choose one or two exercises for each group.
The convenient thing about full body training is that there are less training days in one week, with more rest days. This is useful for people who may have less time in their schedules.
In summary, the full body split is a good starting split. The push/pull/legs and the upper/lower body splits allow for greater volumes to be used in a manageable way by dividing them over multiple days and require more training days.
Adjustments to exercise type and set range may be required to meet your individual needs.
Be prepared to make adjustments to your training, depending on your mood, sleep and diet.
Don’t be shy sharing your experiences with preparing and structuring your own workouts.
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