Friday, December 12, 2008

The Best Training Program Ever

I talk to people all the time and they are always looking for a better and more efficient fitness program. In my opinion, there is no program in the world that is the best. Every program has its flaws and every program can get better. No training program is perfect. But with a new outlook on your fitness routine you can make your time at the gym much more efficient. I want to show you some basic concepts on how to create and design your own training programs. With just a few simple ideas and methods, you will have the education to design a proper workout that will get you results and keep you motivated. Too many people that go to the gym follow the same routine, have no progression, do not know how to push themselves, have no plan of action, and they get frustrated. Frustration leads to uninspiring workouts and, in the end, quitting of a fitness routine. You do not want that! Follow these simple guidelines and you will be on your way to achieving your fitness goals, increasing your fitness levels, and increasing your performance to a whole new level.

Having a plan of action is an important aspect that most gym goers disregard when they show up to the gym for a workout. The typical gym member will walk into the gym, step on the treadmill for ten minutes, walk at a slow pace, hop off the treadmill, go to the strength training machines and start lifting light weights with a lot of repetitions. Sound familiar? Also, you see the “bench presser”, usually a male in their 20’s or 30’s, walk into the gym, go straight to the bench press, perform a few arm circles to “loosen up”, lay down and start repping out 225 pounds until their face is red. Then that person will complain about shoulder issues. I wonder why? Then they go bust out some chest flies and some bicep curls. They end with some crunches and then the workout is over. They have skipped some very important “ingredients” of a fitness routine. Having a plan of action before you go into the gym is crucial to having an efficient workout. Write down your workout before you even step foot into the gym. Do not “freestyle”. If you have a plan and it is written down, you will work harder, be more efficient and you will get a better workout. Below, I will go over a type of program sequence you should follow to make your workouts more organized.

Do you perform a dynamic warm-up? A workout routine should always begin with a dynamic warm-up. Do not walk on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike for ten minutes and declare you are warmed up. With those ten minutes, you can get more bang for your buck by doing some dynamic flexibility and mobility drills. Goals for a dynamic warm-up include: Injury prevention, increase range of motion, increase blood flow, increase heart rate, increase joint mobility, increase muscle flexibility, and prepare and activate the body for the workout. A proper warm-up should take at least ten minutes; It all depends on the time you have and the goals you have set. I have some athletes that their dynamic warm-up takes up to 25 minutes. When you have mobility and flexibility issues, you will need to spend more time warming up so you can address those issues. This needs to be a main aspect of your fitness routine. Start performing a consistent warm-up before every training session that includes shoulder, hip, and ankle mobility drills, activation techniques, and dynamic flexibility drills and you will see major changes in your movement patterns and your overall performance.

Is your program balanced? Do you perform more pressing movements then pulling movements? Or more knee dominant movements than hip dominant movements? If you answered yes to those two questions, then your program is imbalanced. Do you include three or four pressing movements and only have two or three pulling movements? Do you have three or four knee dominant (focusing on quadriceps) exercises and only have one to two hip dominant (focusing on hamstrings and glutes) exercises? You really need to look at your program and make sure there is balance. If you have one horizontal press (bench press) and one vertical press (shoulder press), then you should have one horizontal pull (Inverted Rows) and one vertical pull (chin-ups). Same thing with the lower body. If you have two knee dominant exercises (split squat and lunges), then you should have two hip dominant exercises (Stability Ball Leg curls and Straight Leg Deadlift). Most shoulder issues are caused because people live in a “bench pressing world”. They can bench press 315 pounds, but when asked to chin-up the same amount, they can’t even come close. This creates an imbalance in your shoulder strength. A balanced athlete should be able to pull just as much as he or she can press. Create a balanced program and you are less likely to suffer from asymmetries that, in the end, can cause injury.

If you are not a competitive bodybuilder, then do not lift like one! Unless your goals are to compete as a bodybuilder, you should never go to the gym and spend 60 minutes on your arms. You need to incorporate full body routines. Start thinking of training specific movement patterns and not specific body parts. You can work your entire body in a 3 or 4 day split lifting program and get much more bang for your buck and better results. I will show you a few examples below of full body routines that are balanced and efficiently planned so you are getting the most out of your gym time. Even if you aren’t a competitive athlete, start thinking like one, and train like one. If you want to increase your fitness level, feel better, increase your energy and most importantly BE HEALTHY, then you need to start implementing these ideas into your daily program. Your program should have dynamic flexibility and mobility drills, core stabilization work, explosive exercises, full body strength movements, conditioning, and cool down stretching. It is a waist of time to go into the gym and perform chest and triceps for 90 minutes. Especially if your goal is to get fit and to increase your performance.

Is there a proper sequence to your workout? Do you just have a huge hodgepodge of exercises and decide which ones to choose when you get to the gym? Or do you put some thought into it before you set foot into the gym and decide what you will do, in what order you will do it, and at what intensities and volume you will perform them at. These methods will allow you to have a more efficient workout. Should you do jump squats at the end of the workout? Probably not the best idea. Should you perform the heavier, more intense lifts after the less intense lifts? Probably not the best idea. Also, what sets and repetitions will you be using in each workout. I have a strong belief that by changing the intensities and volume every workout, your body will never adapt, thus leading to better results. One day, work on endurance (12-15 reps), one day work on hypertrophy/strength (8-12 reps) and one day work on power (3-5 reps). The more variety in your workouts, the more motivation you will have to go and complete them. Here are two examples of properly sequenced and designed workouts:

Workout example #1:
Activation/Dynamic warm-up/mobility drills: 10-15 minutes
Core Stabilization (start thinking anti-rotation and anti-flexion): 5 minutes
Plyometric (box jumps, hurdle jumps, jump squats, etc.): 8 minutes
Strength Work: 20-35 minutes
A1: Vertical Pull: 3 x 8, A2: Knee Dominant: 3 x 8,
A3: Active Hamstring Stretch
B1: Horizontal Press: 3 x 10, B2: Hip Dominant: 3 x 6,
B3: Active hip flexor on box
Conditioning: 8-10 minutes
a. High intensity interval
i. Example: 8 Treadmill sprints, 15 seconds on/45 seconds off
Stretch: 5-10 minutes

Total: 56 – 83 minutes

Workout example #2
1. Activation/Dynamic warm-up/mobility drills: 10-15 minutes
2. Core Stabilization: 5 minutes
3. Medicine Ball Explosive Work: 8 minutes
4. Strength Work: 20-35 minutes
A1: Horizontal Pull: 3 x 12, A2: 1-leg Knee Dominant: 3 x 6
A3: Standing hamstring stretch on ½ foam roll
B1: Vertical Press: 3 x 12, B2: 1-leg Hip Dominant: 3 x 6/leg
B3: Shoulder Rollouts w/foam roll
5. Conditioning: 8-10 minutes
a. High Intensity interval
i. Example: 8 Spin Bike sprints, 15 seconds on/45 seconds off
6. Stretch: 5-10 minutes

Stick to the basics. When in doubt, you need to master the basic exercises. For some reason, our country loves to overdo things. This “functional” training era has become a competition of who can do the most “circus act” exercises in the gym. You do not need to be doing bicep curls while standing on a stability ball to be “functional”. Remember, the simple and basic exercises are what get you strong. Being strong is being functional. Chin-ups are a very functional exercise. But yet, you do not see too many people in gyms performing chin-ups. If you can not perform the basic movements with perfect form, then why are you getting into more complex movements? Get back to the basics. Here is a list of exercises, in their correct category that you need to start implementing into your program. You can cut and paste these exercises into the workout sequences I gave you up above so you can modify and change your workout on a daily basis.

Dynamic warm-up/Mobility Drills: leg swings, ankle mobility on wall, wall slides (shoulder mobility), lunge/arms straight up, inchworms, side lunging, knee raise pulls, leg cradles, straight leg kicks, quadriceps pulls, shoulder Y’s/T’s/W’s, running high knees, running butt kicks, power skips and side shuffles

Knee Dominant: front squats, split squats, 1-leg squats, back lunges, front lunges, walking lunges (both knee and hip dominant), and step-ups

Hip Dominant: deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, stability ball leg curls, stability ball hip lifts, glute bridge, 1-leg glute bridge, and walking lunges

Horizontal Pressing: bench press, dumbbell bench press, push-up, and cable press

Horizontal Pulling: inverted rows, seated rows, DB rows, and cable rows

Vertical Pressing: shoulder press (DB’s or barbell), alternating DB shoulder press, and DB incline bench press

Vertical Pulling: chin-ups, pull-ups, 1-arm high cable rows, and pulldowns

Core Stabilization: front plank variations, side plank variations, cable stabilization, kneeling chops, and kneeling lifts

Plyometrics: box jumps, hurdle jumps, squat jumps, bounding, and 1-leg hoping

Medicine Ball Work: overhead slams, chest slams, push press thrusts, chest press thrusts, and side throws

If you start implementing these simple principles into your workout regimen, you will see what a difference it will make in your fitness levels. You will learn to push your body, change the workout when needed, have a proper progression and program design, have balance, and have a plan of action every workout. This will lead to increase strength, increase power, increase mobility, increase flexibility and an increase in your overall performance. You will have more energy, have a higher vitality towards life, and your motivation levels will be sky rocketed. Remember, being healthy and fit must be a lifestyle habit. It must be a priority you think about every single day of your life. Healthy nutritional habits, consistent work ethic, and a long term approach will get you to the top. Do not expect short term results. Put in the time and watch your Life take off!

Short and simple

“You have the opportunity to succeed everyday. Take one day at a time and make each day count. Live, Love and Cherish the people around you and the things you have.”


I am going to be short and simple this week. I believe in the four F’s to live a happy and fulfilled Life. You must have a strong FAITH, have good relationships with FAMILY and FRIENDS and you must be FIT. All these things will guide you to appreciate and enjoy everything around you. You will live life to the fullest! When the tough times arise, you will bounce back quickly. Part of this whole fitness thing is to think a certain way. Do not let a number influence your feelings. Do what you have to do to achieve your goals. Your goals will not get accomplished by just talking about them. Write down your goals, not just fitness goals either, and set a game plan for you to conquer them.

I wrote a quote up on the board in my gym. It goes like this:

“You can not push anyone up the mountain unless he is willing to start the climb himself.” Andrew Carnegie

Plain and simple, you need to light your own motivation flame. Do not wait for people to do it for you. Just go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN! Get to the gym, get moving, buy and eat the right foods and you will be on your way to achieving your goals. But remember one very important thing: IT TAKES TIME! Be patient, create a healthy lifestyle and you will see the benefits.

Do not wait for the New Year. Start now! This is the best time to start a fitness program!

Put your trust and faith in God and he will lead you in the right direction

Stay UP!

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