Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 1, 2019

Correlation between structure and improvement

A workout put together for a few friends for a Monday arm day. (Graphic provided by Michelle Dudley)

One of the most important parts of working out is having a structure and plan. For a while I would just go to the gym and do random lifts. I had an idea in mind of what I wanted to do but didn’t really have a structure. Not too long ago I downloaded a fitness app and that really helped me structure my workouts. I was able to pick the muscles I wanted to work on and what types of exercises I was going to do to work on those muscles. Now, I don’t rely on the app and can create workouts off the top of my head, simply because I know what I want to do and how to make a plan.

The first step in working out correctly is knowing what muscles or lifts you want to work on. Once you have that decided, it is easy to design a workout. So if you want to work on your arms, you will want to work biceps (front of arm) and triceps (back of arm). When you isolate muscles, that means you are only working that one muscle at a time.

Planning for the week helps ensure that you aren’t doing the same lifts every week. So for example, when I decide my workouts for the week, I list them out. It looks like this: Monday: Shoulders, Back, Abductors & Adductors; Tuesday: Legs, Abs; Wednesday: Chest, Tris, Abs; Thursday: REST; Friday: Back, Abs; Saturday: Bis, Traps ; Sunday: REST.

One more essential aspect to working out is scheduling in rest days. These set days give your body a chance to recover and will lead to you seeing better improvement. If you go to the gym every day for two weeks straight, you are going to burn out and then will be forced to take a longer rest period.

When I plan my workouts I generally find about three to four exercises per muscle and sometimes I throw in a superset. Doing this number of exercises per muscle limits you to training only about two muscles per day. If you try and train more than two or three muscles per workout, you are going to be at the gym forever and won’t actually see results. I typically set up my workouts to take about two hours to get done. Anything past three hours is not needed.

When you pick the exercises that you want to do, you generally want to pick exercises that are relatively easy to do depending on your experience level. If you are a beginner in the gym, you would not want to do exercises with a bunch of complex movements and advanced technique. But if you have experience in the gym, you can do more advanced exercises and perhaps even some new things that you haven’t done before. Depending on the exercise, repetitions within the sets can be very different. If you are training muscles and not lifts, using rep counts of eight to ten and above is a great way to gain strength but also muscle endurance. The use of supersets is also a great way to burn your muscles and see massive gains. A superset is when you perform one exercise and then immediately performing another exercise with no break in between. You definitely should not use supersets with everything you do, but when you get through the three or four exercises you already performed, doing a superset is a great way to finish off that muscle.

Structure when working out is probably the most important aspect of working out in order to see the maximum amount of improvement. If you would like some help seeing improvement, feel free to reach out to me and I will be glad to help you with your journey.


James Dinaso

Tags:  columns james dinaso lifting powerllifting tips sports

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