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You’ve got to have a training plan. Too many guys go to the gym and exercise based on ‘feeling’, namely what feels like it needs work or how they’re feeling on that specific day. This results in neglected muscle groups and a thoroughly uninspiring training programme.
You need two plans for your training – a weekly plan and a daily plan. A weekly plan will ensure that you hit all the necessary muscle groups to achieve your goals, while a daily plan breaks down what particular exercises you’re going to do within that specific day.
If you want to make any significant change to your body, you have to train at least four times a week. Don’t say it’s important to you if you aren’t prepared to make time for it. The ‘work is hectic’ excuse isn’t acceptable anymore. Too many guys are looking for the magic formula to get back in shape – well, this is it. It means setting aside an hour of your day, four times a week, and working as hard as you possibly can in that time.
To elaborate on the weekly plan mentioned above, I would recommend one day that focuses on weightlifting volume, two days that have a combination of weights and interval work, and one day that focuses on endurance and recovery.
The weightlifting day must be specific to an area of your body. Using chest and shoulders as an example, try to get as much work into these two areas in an hour. Don’t worry about being too technical about it, just know that the more work you do the better off you’ll be.
I like to use 10 sets of 10 reps for these sorts of days. For bench-press, warm your way up to a weight that you can lift 10 times – you’ll know if it’s too heavy or too light after the first few sets and should adjust accordingly. Perform 10 sets of 10 reps at the same weight with a strict two minute rest between each set.
In the last column, I spoke about the value of ladders in training. Use these to add more volume to your weight lifting day.
For the two days of interval work, I favour the Interval Weight Training (IWT) format.
This consists of the following:
3 rounds of:
10 reps of a big lift, such as deadlift, squat or press;
2 minutes of cardio work at 80% intensity, such as running, rowing or burpees;
Take 2 minutes of rest between the rounds, and a 5 minute rest after the third round, then,
3 rounds of:
10 reps of a different big lift;
2 minutes of a different form of cardio work at 80% intensity;
2 minutes of rest.
The key to this type of training is that you hit the same numbers on the cardio work every single round. It’s pointless going so fast in the first round that you completely blow out for the rest of the workout, but you’ll learn your limits the more you practice this type of training. If you want to get fit and strong, this is the way to do it.
The final training day of your week should be 60-90 minutes long and involve ‘steady state cardio.’ This means that whatever you’re doing – running, swimming, cycling, etc. – should be done at a pace where you could still have a conversation with someone while you’re working out. The 60-90 minutes must be continuous and cannot be broken up like the interval days.
Having a plan really eliminates excuses. You know exactly what you have to do, so if you end up missing sessions you either have to admit that you’re awful at planning or just plain lazy.
Training four times a week doesn’t make you exceptional. What it does show is that you’re committed to change. So if you have that genuine commitment and drive to succeed, make sure that you give yourself the best chance by planning a clear path to the goals you wish to achieve.