I’ve been writing programs for the last seven years. From semi-pro athletes to youth sports teams and Navy SEALs to soccer moms, I’ve been forced to ignite my creative side and construct top-of-the-line workouts to fit the needs of the individual or group. Though creating a challenging workout is always at the forefront of what I do, it is just as important for these workouts to be measurable and progressive.
There are a handful of coaching styles, some molding to specific demographics better than others. However, outside of traditional bodybuilding, the format in which a workout is to be constructed is pretty much the same. My ideas are regurgitations of professors and master strength coaches far greater than I. With that said, every one of my workouts is made of six components. Here is a breakdown of what they are and why I include them:
1. Warm Up
Facilitation, Activation, Stimulation. In short, a good warm up should increase your body temperature, mobilize the working joints/increase range of motion specific to the day’s movements, stimulate the central nervous system, and activate the stabilizing/weak muscle groups. This should last no longer than 10 minutes. This is how I break it down:
- General– Anything steady state for 3-5 minutes that gets you breathing and body warm.
- Mobility– The exercises chosen should be specific to the workout. Save static stretching and lacking areas for the end of the work out.
- Stimulation/Activation– I usually pair an explosive/dynamic exercise for low to medium reps (3-10) with an exercise that gets the stabilizing muscle groups firing (usually rear delts and scapula on upper body days and glutes/posterior chain on lower body days).
Pick 1-2 exercises that define the focus for the day. These are usually heavier and more complex/technical movements that don’t really move around in your program rotation until the training focus or goal changes. This is key as your primary exercises should be progressive and measurable. (Think heavy barbell movements.)
These movements compliment the primary exercise of the day. Usually they are smaller and less heavier exercises that bring up a weak area. For example, if your primary exercises for the day were bench press and bent over row, you may use an incline dumbbell bench press and single arm dumbbell row for your secondary exercises.
These movements are still specific to the focus of the day but will entail exercises with a smaller range of motion or a particular muscle group. Think beach muscles or injury prevention.
Though it may not be of the highest importance in everyone’s goal, conditioning always plays a role in one way or another. For some it could be something as simple as an easy 10 minute bike ride or row. For others it could be a METCON, track work, HIIT, or a 5k post lift. It really just depends on what the person’s goal is and whether or not it is aesthetically based, performance based, or both.
6. Active Recovery
Simply bring the heart rate back down and normalize blood flow. I usually end sessions with some type of stretch series specific to the muscles trained.
Example 1- Hip Dominant Focus Day
1. Warm up
-Run x400m at an easy pace
-x0:30 each: scorpion stretch, yoga push up, world’s greatest stretch, cossack squat
-3 sets of: jumping lunge x5/side + feet elevated hip bridge x20
A) Sumo deadlift
Warm up: x10 light, x8 medium
Work sets: 5×6 @ 70%
B1) Romanian deadlift
Warm up: x10 light, x10 medium
Work sets: 3×10 working up to a heavy set
B2) Walking lunge (holding dbs)
Warm up: x25 yards at bodyweight, x25 yards light
Work sets: 3×25 yards heavy
C1) Weighted sit up 3×10
C2) Toes to bar 3×10
D) METCON- 4 rounds of:
x15 kb swings
6. Active Recovery
Stretch calves, hamstrings, groin, hip flexors and glutes
Example 2- Upper Body Horizontal Push/Pull Focus
1. Warm up
-Row x500m at an easy pace
-x0:30 each: open the can, cat cow, quadruped thoracic rotation
-3 sets of: kneeling chest pass x5 + band pull apart x20
A1) Incline bench press
Warm up: x10 @ 40%, x10 @ 50%
Work sets: 3xAMAP @ 60%
A2) Single arm db row
B1) Feet elevated push up
B2) Ring row (neutral grip)
C1) Db skullcrusher 3×20-10
C2) Db hammer curl 3×20-10
D) 4 rounds for time:
x10/side rotational ball slams
6. Active Recovery
Stretch lats, triceps, biceps, and pecs
Those who are members at American Sled Dogs should be very familiar with this pattern as this is how we construct our class workouts. No fillers, no junk work, no BS… just tough as nails workouts that get our people to where they want to be. Include these six components to your workout routine, and I guarantee you will find this structure will give you the direction you’ve been looking for.