4 Tips for Programming Your Workouts
When you first start working out, it's easy to find a workout plan for almost any fitness goal. However, as you progress in your fitness, your needs become more targeted. Creating your workout plan can be difficult at first, but once you learn these four tips, it becomes much more straightforward.
1. Multijoint before Unijoint
You should always perform multijoint exercises before exercise that only use one joint. For example, during a leg day, you would squat (movement in the ankle, knee, and hip joint) before doing leg extensions (movement through only knee joint). The reasoning behind this rule is that if you work single joint exercises first, you will fatigue your stabilizer muscles before your prime movers. If your stabilizers are tired and you try to do a multijoint exercise likes squats, you won't be able to lift as heavy and won't get as much benefit from the exercise.
2. Stay Balanced
Our bodies aren't designed to move in two-dimensional patterns. Machine exercises like leg press are excellent for overloading specific muscle groups, but you should make free weight exercises the staples in your workout and give them your priority. Exercises like squats require your body to stabilize laterally, so they help you develop functional strength and lower your risk of injury caused by muscular imbalances.
3. Make Your Workout Progressive
If you squatted 100lbs (or 2-25lb kettlebell front squats) last week and it feels easier this week, that's great, but if you keep lifting 100lbs (same weight week after week), you won't get stronger. Make sure your workouts stay challenging by regularly increasing the load. Increasing the load doesn't mean you have to put more weight on the bar each week. There are two other ways you can make an exercise more challenging.
First, you can increase volume by either increasing the total sets or reps. For example, if you did 4x4 sets of squats last week, you could do 5x4 or 4x5 this week.
The other way is to increase the training stimulus is by bumping up the frequency. If you squatted once last week, you could add a second session to your program to keep signaling for your body to adapt.
4. Mix It Up
You should change your workout routine every four to six weeks to prevent boredom and to keep your motivation high. Switching your routine also has the benefit of creating a greater physiological signal to your body for adaption. You will adapt more because you are exposing your body to a variety of different stressors instead of the same stress week after week.
It's also a good idea to try new exercises each training block so that you have a more substantial catalog of exercises to choose from and learn which ones are most beneficial for you.
Designing your workout program gives you the freedom to train specifically to your goals. However, training improperly can be worse than not training at all. Keep these four tips in mind before adding exercises to your workout routine.
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