Before you even start reading this document, I will warn you it is technical and dry reading. But if you are serious about your Gym Workouts it is well worth reading this document as a start point and further reading can be found in the references below.
Most of you will understand the terminology in this document, but for those that do not.
Reps- repetition of an exercise or movement in a specific way or manner:
Set – A number of repetitions is a single set
One rep max – The single movement at max load capacity or the maximum you can lift in a single attempt. You can either attempt this (I will cover how to do this in other notes), but it is not advisable for a beginner.
Better is to pick a weight that you can lift till failure (cannot push/pull the weight any further) around 6-10 times.
Then put it into the following formula. Where w is the weight and r is the number of repetitions.
1RM = w(1+(r/30)
We all know there are many ways of working out, using various routines and methodologies. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more popular workout routines:
1) Three day workouts
This workout is usually followed as a beginner programme. Though there are variations of it, this pattern is usually followed:
10 reps, 1 minute break, 2- 3 sets, at 60-80% 1 rep max
Commonly with this workout, you would do one exercise per body part (legs, chest, back, abs, biceps, triceps, lower back and shoulders).
These give you eight exercises in total and require ten minutes cardio at the beginning to warm up, as well as a five minute cardio as a cool down. Pre-stretching and post-stretching is also usually added to this workout routine.
Remember this routine is generally used by beginners. If you are new to the gym, you should use this for the first 3-12 months. This will enable you to build up strength, endurance, posture and the cardio-vascular system required.
At this stage you get the hang of the basics, and your training should fall in line with your goals. There are many ways to actually reach your goals, and we will cover the basics of these routines.
Remember each routine can be further changed using different rep ranges, weights and rest times. I will go through the specifics of these in future notes.
For now, we will look at which workouts we can use:
2) Split Routine
This is made up by four resistance based workouts a week and one cardio session a week, commonly used by bodybuilders. Depending on how it is used, it can develop muscle size and definition.
These routines are usually split based on one day upper-body workout (that is chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps), followed by a lower-body workout the next day (that is abs, lower back, calves, quads and glutes).
You would then do one day of cardio, followed by the first two days split routine again.
These sessions are usually made up of the following:
2 Exercises per body part, 8 reps over 4 sets per exercise with 60-90 sec breaks at 80% 1 rep max
3) Isolated training
This is not to be confused with isolate sets. Isolated training is working out a particular muscle in as many ways as possible. You would work out your chest, for example, in five different ways.
A chest workout may include bench press, incline bench, barbell chest flies, supine bench and press ups. This system can be used in two different ways.
Firstly, you could follow it twice a day so you can go through the entire workout twice weekly, once for strength and once for endurance. This is how this routine would be broken down:
Mon: AM: Biceps PM: Chest
Tues: AM: Abs PM: Upper back
Wed: AM: Legs/ lower back PM: Triceps
Fri: AM: Biceps PM: Chest
Sat: AM: Abs PM: Upper back
Sun: AM: Legs/ lower back PM: Triceps
This method is for the very advanced and you should take a week break every six weeks (ideally four weeks) to recover.
Over training is very likely and this workout is not to be used by those with less than eighteen months experience in the gym. This is a similar methodology to that used by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A second option is to follow the x1 daily routine which can be broken down as follows:
Fri: Back & Abs
This setup can be used by beginners and more advanced users alike. It is also unlikely to lead to over training and is a relatively safe way of training.
The workouts would consist of the following:
Strength: 5 Exercises 6-8reps per set over 5 sets at 80-90% one rep max.
Endurance: 5 Exercises, 12-15reps (legs 15-20) over 5 sets at 40-60% one rep max
4) Opposition Training
This is a form of training that is normally done four days a week with the fifth day being a cardio workout day. You work the opposite muscle sets together as super sets- this can be very tiring.
You would work the chest and the back, the bicep and the triceps, the abs and the lower back, and lastly, the shoulders and legs.
To put the exercises together as a superset, you would do for example, a bench press set followed directly by a mid-row without rest.
The exercises together would constitute a single set. You could do a superset or compound exercises with the shoulders and legs, for example, by squatting with a light weight resting on your shoulders and at the top of each movement press the weight.
Each workout would generally consist of the following:
5 Exercises, 3 sets (supersets of opposition muscles), 10-12 reps, 45-60 sec breaks
This is an advanced form of training and will test both endurance and strength. This is not recommended for beginners and you should have at least eighteen months experience in the gym before attempting training using this methodology.
5) High Impact resistance Training
This is a method that has the potential to show the greatest results over the shortest period of time but it also carries the greatest risks.
It requires you to push your body to its maximum capacity in very short spaces of time and then beyond it, in a very harsh and unforgiving way.
Lifting will be at around 90 – 95% of your one rep max, so the loads are very heavy. You would train once every five days, so you would for example do a routine on Monday and then rest until Friday before doing the next routine on the Friday.
And then the next routine would be the following Tuesday. The routines would have no more than two workouts per muscle group and two muscle groups per training day.
So for example, you would work your chest and abs on the first day, followed by legs and shoulders on the next and so forth.
You would also incorporate a HIITS cardio workout in this routine after completing all muscle groups, which I have explained more about in previous notes.
A workout using this method would consist of the following:
4 exercises (2 per muscle group), 2-3sets per exercise 4-8 reps per set using 90-95% One rep Max
Using this routine, you are likely to fail reaching the full rep range without someone to spot you. In fact, you should not workout in this way without a training partner.
And even if they are there to help you raise the weight so you can complete each set using the negative of the movement. I will cover negatives in future notes.
This form of training should only be used by those with over twenty four months of experience in the gym. A training method similar to this was used by Mike Mentzer.
There are many other methodologies and out there using different ideologies, and with each of these ways there are many ways of working out within these methodologies.
For example, superset, pyramid sets, isolate and compound training. Some of my future notes will cover aspects of these in more detail.
One that is always great to include is compound movements. In fact, I recommend that you DO include them. This covers the bench press, clean and jerk, dead lifts and squats.
Most of these workouts are designed to last around 45 – 60 minutes and should be easy enough to fit into most days.
High Intensity Training: The Mike Mentzer Way – Mike Mentzer, John Little
The New Encyclopaedia of Modern Bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger revised with Bill Dobbins
Advanced Resistance Training Course material – Futurefit Training
NSCA guide to Program design: Science of Strength and Conditioning – Edited – Jay R Hoffman