Pick a Workout Program
Tips and Tricks
Just as you must have a nutrition plan on paper, you must also have a training plan on paper.
There are two types of training we do here: One is resistance training (weight lifting), for strength, muscular development and body shaping. The other is cardio training, for conditioning, heart health and accelerated fat burning.
The weights training makes up one part of our 4 Pillar Principles in the Complete Program:
- Goal setting / mental training / motivation
- Resistance weights training
- Cardio training
This program is a not a diet and it’s not a nutrition program alone. It’s a comprehensive system that covers all the bases necessary to make a total body transformation. Nutrition may be the most important part of the program where weight loss is concerned, but training is the most important where shaping your body and getting fit are concerned.
Dieting alone can produce weight loss, but it can’t transform your body. Training with weights (or some other form of resistance), is the only way to sculpt your body into a muscular or athletic shape, to get stronger, and to improve your body composition.
For the most part, men and women should train the same.
I laugh when I spot the numerous books and programs about special types of training for women. Usually they use words like “sculpting,” “shaping”, or “toning.”
That’s great for marketing to women, and if you want to use these words to describe your weight training program, that’s fine. But technically, there’s no such thing as “toning.” You won’t find this word in any scientific text. Muscle development is muscle development and it takes place in exactly the same fashion in women as it does in men. The adjustments you should make to your training program have more to do with your body type and goals than with your gender.
What if I don’t want to get “bulky” or look like a muscly woman?
Trust me, you won’t.
I often hear concerns about getting “too big,” and it’s obvious that many people think building muscle mass is easy. Believe me, gaining muscle is far from easy.
It’s a long, difficult process for everyone except the most genetically gifted. It’s even more difficult for women, who have less of the muscle-building hormone, testosterone. Despite my reassurance, almost 100% of the women I’ve coached (and some of the men) have still been worried about getting big “bulky” muscles. If this is a concern for you, let me put you at ease…
This fear of “getting too big” usually comes from seeing pictures of professional bodybuilders in the magazines. Almost 100% of professional bodybuilders take steroids and other anabolic drugs to get abnormally large muscle mass. If you’ve ever seen pictures of female bodybuilders with massive, masculine-looking muscles (and faces), the odds are good that they were using steroids, male hormones, or other muscle enhancing drugs.
Unless you’re a “genetic freak” with a high mesomorph component, you’re not going to get too big from weight training. You’re also not going to wake up one morning and notice that you’ve sprouted massive bulk overnight. The process takes place slowly, and you’re totally in control of how you want your body to look. If you ever reach the point where you have all the muscle you want, it’s very easy to change your training and nutrition to maintenance.
The answer is, resistance training is the key to making sure the weight you lose is fat and not muscle. Using weights in the gym sends signals to your body that manage how the energy of food intake and body fat are utilised.
In weight loss, where does the weight loss come from?
The body can use fat stores, but it can also try to make the body more efficient by reducing muscle size. Weights workouts signal the body to hold on to muscle so when the body comes looking for energy, the muscles reply, “Sorry guys, can’t breakdown our muscles for energy, we seem to be using it a lot at the moment so need to keep as much as possible.”
If you diet without weight training, you increase the risk of muscle loss and there’s no guarantee that you’ll look muscular or fit after dieting the weight off – you may end up feeling mushy and looking “skinny fat.” Weight training is the difference between losing weight and transforming your body.
Cardio training helps accelerate your rate of fat loss while improving your conditioning and providing heart health benefits, but cardio alone can’t do everything that weight training does. This means that for body transformation goals, weight training is a higher priority than cardio training.
When you gain weight, what kind of weight do you gain?
For those that are adding extra calories to their body, where does that extra energy go? By working out with weights, the body signals a need for muscle growth and so the excess energy is partitioned into protein synthesis to grow more muscle and meet demands from workouts. Remember that the body can only grow new muscle so fast, so if you give it too much excess calories, the body will simply file it away as stored fat.
People think that if they have a lot of weight to lose, they should lose the fat with cardio first before starting a weight-training program. Actually, the opposite is true; weight training always accelerates fat loss! Muscle is metabolically active tissue that burns fat, and lifting weights builds muscle, therefore weight training must be a part of every fat loss program. This doesn’t mean you need to look like or train like a bodybuilder, unless that’s your goal. It simply means that weight training is equally as important as aerobic training even when your goal is fat loss. Aerobics by itself doesn’t cut it.
However, weight training is not enough to get maximum fat loss for most body types. The primary fat burning effect of weight training comes after the workout from the increase in BMR and from the increase in post-exercise metabolic rate. During weight training workouts, you are burning primarily sugar. That’s why I also provide cardio programs. Cardio provides the majority of the fat burning benefits during the workout, because aerobic exercise uses oxygen and is therefore fat-burning in nature. That’s why immediately after every 30 minute cardio workout you could accurately say, “I am now leaner than I was a half an hour ago.”
You can train anywhere you want. The major benefit of home training is convenience. If the time saving and convenience benefits of training at home help you stick to your training program better, then by all means, work out at home. However, the more advanced you become, the more you’ll benefit from joining a health club or gym.
Complete 5-10 minutes on a piece of cardio equipment at around 50% intensity. Examples include:
- Treadmill (Walk / jog at 5 – 8 km/hr at 5% incline)
- Outdoor Walk (10 – 15 min walk to the gym)
- Stationary Bike (80 – 100 RPM) at 50% intensity
- Outdoor Bike (5 – 15 min cycle to the gym)
- Rowing Machine
- Cross trainer Machine
Complete some dynamic stretching and mobility work. This will lubricate your joints, improve range of motion and prevent injury.
Finally complete one or two light, non-fatiguing warm up sets at the beginning of each muscle group.
Select 50% of the weight you normally use and complete 15 – 20 reps at a moderate pace (1 second up, 1 second down) to pump blood and oxygen into the muscle and lubricate the joints ready for heavy work.
You don’t need warm up sets for every exercise, just for each body part (chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs). The exception of course, is for heavy basic, compound exercises like squats. For these types of exercises, slowly build up to your personal maximum weight used.
The general guideline for rep speed is to take two or three seconds to raise the weight and three to four seconds to lower the weight. Breath out as you perform the concentric part of the rep, and breath in on the return part.
Never use a fast, jerky, or uncontrolled movement. Raising or lowering the weight too quickly uses momentum and takes the stress off the muscle you’re trying to develop. It also increases the likelihood of injury.
Some athletes train explosively, but unless you’re involved in sport-specific training, make it a general rule to keep your rep speed controlled.
- If you are working out with a buddy (highly recommended) alternate sets.
- More compound exercises like squats need 2 – 3 minutes rest
- More isolated exercises need only 30 – 60 seconds rest.
- Other exercises rest around 60 – 90 seconds.
- If using a heart rate monitor, rest until below 60% Max HR.
If you have trained legs today, they probably feel a little sore and tender from the training you have just done. This is fine, it’s just due to a build up in lactic acid from using the muscles.
Keep your legs moving at a low intensity for 5 – 10 minutes after your workout to allow the lactic acid to pump out and bring in fresh oxygen and nutrients to start healing the muscles. Skipping this step can lead to cramps, excess inflammation and injury so please remember to do this. Examples include:
- Casual 5 – 15 min walk or cycle home from the gym
- Slow walk on treadmill at slight incline for 5 min
- Low intensity cycle on stationary bike
- Light walking around the gym
Stretching is better after you’re warm, when your muscles are more elastic. That’s why its better to stretch at the end of your workout or between exercises than it is in the beginning when you’re cold.
Stretch each of the muscles you have worked in the session.
The goal is to train hard, then get your butt out of the gym and let the muscles rest. Your muscles will only develop if you allow them enough time to recover. This is how weight training differs from cardio. When rapid fat loss is your goal, daily cardio can be beneficial. Weight training every day is always counterproductive.
This technique is excellent for reducing inflammation, muscle soreness and injury.
How long should I stay with the same workout program?
I’ve included substitution options for each exercise in the workout program in case you don’t have access to the equipment required, or you have an injury or feel like doing something else.
I recommend you don’t switch the exercises on every workout. It’s best to stick to the same exercise program for at-least 3 – 6 weeks to be able to progress on them and observe any changes.
From that point onwards, feel free to change your routine and use substitutions the minute it stops working for you – whether that’s in six weeks or in three months.
Your goal should be noticeable, visible results on a weekly basis. When you stop seeing results, or the results slow to a crawl, it’s time for something different.
You don’t necessarily have to change the entire routine, but some new stimulus must be put into the program or you’re not likely to make further progress.
Changing often is also a good idea for adherence because it helps prevent boredom and lack of motivation. New routines keep things interesting.
The frequency of change is different for everyone – it depends on how long you’ve been training and what your goals are. When you’re a beginner, you can make progress on the same workout routine for a long time. The more advanced you get, the more quickly your muscles adapt.
Advanced bodybuilders can adapt to a training routine in as little as 3-5 weeks.
“Any training program is only as good as the time it takes to adapt to it.” – Charles Poliquin – strength coach.
On the other hand, you don’t want to change too often because this fails to provide any continuity. It’s more efficient to “milk” each routine for all its worth, then change, than it is to change every workout at random.