After a quick Google search for "training programs", I began to understand why many people could have a tough time figuring out how to maximize their efforts and time in the gym. There seems to be so much information. What's the right way to train? The answer - it depends on you and your goals! There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to accomplish what you want! That being said, I think it's a good idea to change up your workouts every few weeks. Check out my earlier blog entry for more ideas on how to break through plateaus! I wanted to list a few key points that have helped me make progress over the years:
1. Prioritize Your Goals.
Do you want to run a faster 5K, get stronger, get leaner, or faster? Decide what your overall goal is, and make that your main focus at the beginning of the workout. For example, I want to get stronger and more explosive for track, so I work on plyos, Olympic lifts, and squats at the beginning of my workouts (3x a week). I also want to maintain a “figure physique,” so I have two days of upper body maintenance lifting. If you want to run a faster 5K, you’ll probably want to put your race training before weight workouts.
2. Get Moving.
A successful training plan won’t work unless you do! If you don’t have access to a gym, get a jump rope, climb stairs, do body weight resistance training at the park, swim, ride a bike, or power clean your house with ankle weights on! Make an appointment to train, just like you'd make an appointment for a meeting. Action = results!
3. Utilize Compound Movements.
Start your workout with compound movements like the squat, row, overhead press, bench, deadlift, and/or pull up! There are endless variations to these basic lifts. I think they help tie the muscle groups together aesthetically, burn more calories in less time, and help build overall strength.
4. Don't Get Comfortable!
“Comfort” often equals “plateau”. Try changing the rep range, try supersets rather than straight sets, decrease the recovery between sets, change the order of exercises, or combine different muscle groups. I also like switching from bars to dumbbells and incorporating unilateral training.
5. Build in Rest and Recovery.
It’s not possible to go all out every day. Time spent resting allows our muscles to recover and grow. Don’t feel badly about taking an unscheduled day off here and there – especially if you’re feeling run down or ill. Even though I’m a fan of lifting heavy and HIIT, I don’t train this way every day! I think it’s about creating a sense of balance and creating a plan that’s sustainable. Supplementation can also help with recovery. I do feel that I recover much more quickly since I started taking BetaTOR!
Thank you for reading! Train hard, y’all!
-Erin Stern, IFBB Figure Pro/USATF Competitor