by Andrew CSCS, February 12, 2018
The fact that you’re even at the gym, ready and willing to work out, means that you’ve already overcome the hardest part… Showing up at all! It’s funny how our brains’ work, and our emotional response (positive or negative, depending on the person) in regard to exercise and physical fitness. Just showing up at all, plus going through the motions, and in addition being “active” for 45 out of 60 minutes you have been at the gym for, should equal improvements and results toward your goals… Right?
In all reality; yes doing these things (the bare minimum) will lead to some improvement in some areas. But, depending on what your goals were when you started, chances are, doing 20 minutes of chest press machine, 20 minutes of DB bicep curls, and 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill won’t get you a six pack or a 20lb drop on the scale. The bottom line is that, specific goals have specific exercise requirements. To keep it simple, an easy to remember acronym exists. Frequency – Intensity – Time – Type. By following these steps and guidelines, figuring out specifically which exercises to do, and how many of them to do, has now become much more doable.
It pretty much means what it sounds like… How many days per week? How many weeks per month? How many months per year? What is the frequency that you will train certain groups of muscle? Depending on the individual, these variables can change well….. frequently!
For Example) a college football player will work out 12 months per year. However, being In-Season compared to Off-Season or Pre compared to Post-Season dictates the amount of work out days per week, as well as the number of weeks devoted to each section of the season. In order to avoid “over-training” there should be some balance and consistency for working out the upper body or lower body. (Ex) Monday = Upper Body Wednesday = Lower Body Friday = Full Body. Here, we’re assuming a novice 3 day split to allow for appropriate recovery.
To state the (hopefully) obvious, the harder you decide to make your work out on a given day, the more “intense” it becomes. The variables that can be altered, to increase work out intensity, are also important factors taken into consideration to help reach your goals efficiently.
For Example) As you get stronger, on a week to week basis, you’ll need to adjust the sets, reps, work vs rest ratios, and weight being lifted.
Week 1) 4-5 sets x 12-15 reps @ 65-75% Max Effort
Week 4) 4 sets x 8-10 reps @ 75-85% Max Effort
Wow! Great guess…. Time refers to the actual amount of time being spent working out on any one given day. In addition, the way that our time is divided up and devoted during a workout factors in.
For Example) Let’s assume that our workout will be 60 minutes from beginning to end.
- Warm up – 5min
- Tissue Health/Mvmnt Prep – 5min
- Resistance Training – 30min
- Cardio/Conditioning – 15min
- Cool Down/Stretch – 5min
So… now that you know how long you’re going to work out for, the number of sets and reps you’ll be doing, and how much time you’ll spend doing each; WHAT are you going to do?
Most of today’s training facilities have the floor plan/lay out strategically designed for people to stay within their comfort zone and stick with what they know. Sections labeled “Cardio Area”, “Free Weights”, or “Resistance Training Machines” strongly dictate the flow of traffic in a gym. Don’t let the segregated areas of a gym dictate what equipment you feel “comfortable” using which, in turn, limits your ability to progress.
For Example) If you’re unsure… stick to the basics… Our original workout schedule was Mon (upper)/ Wed (lower)/ Fri (full) for 60min each day. Now, let’s pick some exercises using the Push:Pull Method. (Novice/Moderate Experience Level)
Monday / Upper Body
* Start w/ 5min Bike/Treadmill/Elliptical Warmup / 5min Foam Rolling *
1a) Seated Chest Press Machine 4 x 15/12/12/10
1b) Seated Back Rows 4 x 12
2a) Seated Pec Deck Machine 3 x 12/12/10
2b) DB (2) Incline Bench Reverse Flys 3 x 12
Billinger, Sandra A. et al. “Does Aerobic Exercise and the FITT Principle Fit into Stroke Recovery?” Current neurology and neuroscience reports 15.2 (2015): 519. PMC. Web. 8 Feb. 2018.