Are you 100% certain your workout plan doesn’t suck?
The truth is that most self-designed workouts created by beginning lifters suck. It’s not their fault though. They are doing the best they can to create a training plan that seems to fit their needs.
I receive a lot of workout questions on a weekly basis. Because of this I notice training trends and tendencies – both good ones, and bad ones.
What follows are 3 reasons why your workout plan sucks, along with simple changes you can make to improve them.
Too Many Exercises
The most common workout plan mistake I see involves the use of too many exercises. Most guys sit down and think of every possible exercises they enjoy, and then find a way to pencil these lifts into a training routine.
Bad idea. This creates workout bloat. Putting an excessive amount of exercises into a training program doesn’t make it an effective workout. It usually has the opposite effect.
The biggest problem with workout bloat is that it leads to imbalanced training. What is imbalanced training? Training one body part for, say, 24 sets and another for 8.
Over time training imbalances can lead to injury. Spend some time around experienced lifters and you start to see that a lot of them have both of the following:
- Shoulder issues.
- Elbow tendonitis.
The reasons for these injuries are simple:
- Most lifters do far too many bench press variations and/or chest exercises, while doing far less work for back and shoulders. This style of imbalanced training and excessive volume almost always leads to injuries or recurring strains and pains down the road.
- Most lifters do far too much direct arm work. We will get into why that is a bad idea in the next section.
Too Many Sets
The second most common workout flaw I see is the use of too many sets. This generally stems from the misguided notice that more sets equals faster muscle growth.
While slowly increasing the volume of sets over time can be a valuable training tool, adding more with the hopes of rapidly speeding up gains is a bit misguided.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not calling for ultra-low set workouts. What I am saying is this…doing 20 sets for chest and biceps twice a week is way too much work.
How many sets is too many sets? Here are some general rules that can help:
- Workout Sets. If the amount of sets you are performing forces you to workout over 60-75 minutes per day, you’re probably using too many sets.
- Weekly Sets. If the number of weekly sets you are performing forces you to workout more than 3-5 hours per week, you’re probably using too many sets.
Most of you will never need more than 3-4 workouts per week of 60-75 minutes each. This is plenty of time and volume, and it will allow you to reach your goals if you stay persistent.
The addition of too many sets provides many additional risks, and little to no rewards.
Instead of adding volume, focus on progression of weight, training consistency and proper food intake. This is the real magic secret that allows you to reach your goals.
Inefficient Use Of Your Time
You only get so many minutes each week to lift. To maximize progress you want to make the best possible use of this time.
How do you do this? By focusing on heavy compound lifts as much as possible.
Depending on your training style and goals, each workout should feature 2-3 heavy compound exercises. These lifts include, but are not limited to squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, rows, dips, power cleans, stiff leg deadlifts, close grip bench presses, etc.
These exercises are hard. Make no bones about it. Skipping them only makes your workouts easier and…less efficient. Training with a lower efficiency leads to slower results.
Machine exercises and isolation exercises have their place, but only once the meat and potatoes of your workout has been completed.