December 15, 2014
Road to Provincials: Day 56/231
Another foggy, overcast day today. Usually these types of days make me feel like laying around and being lazy but not today. I can’t wait to start this Monday! Mind you, it helps when you have the morning off and get to sleep in until almost noon. I rarely get to sleep in that late so when the opportunity presented itself today, I jumped on it without hesitation (and Rico was happy to join me).
As I sit here and type this while sipping my coconut oil infused coffee, I’m mentally preparing for the work that is about to come. I have yet to train today and that’s next on the agenda so it’s time to get my mind focusing on nothing else other than what I’m setting out to achieve when I go to the gym. It’s too easy to just go through the motions so I like to run through the lift in my head before I even get there so I know what to expect.
When I go to the gym, I want to make sure that the time I’m putting in with the iron is well spent. In fact, I want every minute to be streamlined and 100% purposeful. Being sure to hit all of the components of a well-rounded workout is important also. It’s too easy to skip out on the stuff we’re not so good at and focus mainly on our strong points
Over the years, I have pieced together what I feel is the optimal workout layout to ensure that each training session is well rounded and ordered correctly. This isn’t to say that every single workout is to be done in this fashion but for the most part, I think if you were to follow this layout any time you find yourself in the gym, you will leave knowing you hit a little bit of everything and you will have addressed all and any potential weaknesses.
Focusing on this set up from the moment you start driving to the gym is imperative to proper execution of an all-inclusive training session. You can get through your workout without following this list (shit, you can get through your workout without even doing half of these things) but the point is you won’t be getting everything out of your training session if you aren’t attacking it from every angle with a fully focused mindset.
Here’s what’s on my list:
It’s always best to start your training session with a short warm up to get the blood flowing and to prepare the body both physically and mentally for the work to come. Don’t kill yourself here, just move enough to work up a light sweat and leave yourself slightly winded. Cardio machines are an easy option but feel free to run through an assortment of dynamic bodyweight movements if you prefer – both will do the job.
By now, everyone has seen foam rollers, lacrosse balls and all sorts of other tools used for tissue work lying around their local gyms but have you used them yet? These are great pieces of equipment for helping to improve overall mobility and blood flow to muscles and joints around the body. Spend a few minutes working on problem areas before your training session and you will feel like a new person.
This type of work is a bit more beneficial when done prior to strength or power work but can be applied to all types of training. The idea is to perform some light but explosive movements prior to your actual working sets to ‘prime’ the nervous system so that your muscles can fire optimally when it comes time to do some actual work. Pick anywhere from 2-5 moves, choose a light-medium weight and perform between 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps with as much power and explosiveness as you can.
Lift things up and then put them down. You know the old song and dance. This is the part that everyone does already.
This portion isn’t always necessary but I feel it holds some serious benefit for those who wish to give it a go. The idea behind Lactate Threshold Training is to push muscles past the point of failure, increase GH output and also train the athlete to mentally push past the pain barrier. There are numerous ways to do this but the most common methods are drop sets, rest pause sets, negatives and high rep finishers (50-100 reps). Generally this is done with light weight so that you can work to push deep into the pain without having to worry about muscle strength giving out on you first.
This is similar to Lactate Threshold Training only it is meant to target the cardiovascular system of the body instead. There are serious heart health and fat loss benefits associated with High Intensity Interval Training. The easiest way to attack this is to choose an exercise and then work in a high/low fashion for anywhere between 5-20 minutes. An example of this would be kettle bell swings. Swing the kettle bell for 1 minute and then rest for 1 minute and repeat for 10 rounds. The amount of time spent in the high-intensity range and the low-intensity range can be varied and the same goes for the number of rounds or overall duration. The point is to make sure you are working very hard followed by a fairly easy rest. The best part about this type of work is that you will put the body into an ‘after burn’ effect which means that you will be burning calories well after you are finished with the actual workout, contributing to increased fat loss and improved body composition.
This is what everyone knows as typical steady state cardiovascular work. When done too often at the same intensity, the body quickly adapts and stops producing physical changes in response to the work. However, when done sparingly in a varied fashion (treadmill one week, stairclimber the next, etc.), this type of work can be a great tool for burning excess calories in the form of body fat. Try putting this work in at the end of your workouts 2-3 times per week and be sure to switch up the duration and the method used for best results.
We can’t forget the best part. Mobility work is what I like to call the flossing of the workout world. Everyone knows just how good it is for you yet barely anybody does it on a consistent basis (I fall into this category as well). Flexibility is extremely important for improving blood flow, joint mobility, muscle recovery and injury prevention. It doesn’t have to be done for long but consistent work in this department is recommended for anyone who wishes to be able to move pain free through full ranges of motion. Get in the habit of putting in 5-15 minutes of work at the end of your training sessions before you wake up and realize you can’t touch your toes or sit cross-legged.
Try giving this list a go next time you make it out to the gym and see how you feel. Chances are you will hurt and feel pretty damn tired but also pretty amazing when you finish. One thing I can guarantee is that you will, with time, become a very well rounded athlete with minimal weak points and your training will improve drastically. It should also be noted that sufficient core work and strength work should be cycled through your training routine on a regular basis. While these don’t need to be done on a daily basis, they are a couple of staples for anyone who wishes to be an all-around athlete. I don’t want anyone thinking that since I didn’t put them on the list that they aren’t as important. Do your planks and lift some heavy shit too!
Happy training folks.