Do you build weight lifting routines like you fill your plate at a food buffet?
You know what I mean: picking and choosing splits, exercises, sets and reps based on what you’re hungry for on that given day.
If so, it’s time to stop this nonsense and start writing better workouts. The following 4 tips will help you structure more effective weight lifting routines.
Build Better Weight Lifting Routines
Tip #1 – Use Only 2-3 Ball Busting Lifts Per Session
What are ball busting exercises? Big movements like squats, deadlift, bench press, barbell rows, over head presses, cleans, still leg deadlifts, close grip bench presses, dips, good mornings, front squats, leg presses, pull ups, etc.
Start each workout with 2-3 of these challenging movements before moving on to less intense work.
If you aren’t using 2-3 of these lifts, then something is wrong. Shying away from the best possible compound exercises is a fast way to derail your gains.
Try to perform the most challenging movement first.
Tip #2 – No More Than 4 Training Days Per Week
If you are training properly, with the right amount of hard work and resistance, then you won’t need to train more than 4 days per week to reach your goals. In fact, if you are training properly, then you most likely won’t want to train more than 4 days per week.
If you are one of these guys that believes “more is better”, you need to set that mindset aside quickly. Most of the top beginning to intermediate workouts in the weight training realm advise 2-4 weight training sessions per week.
This is not to say that if you are an advanced lifter that you should never workout more than 4 days per week. I am not speaking to highly experienced lifters here.
Hit the gym, work hard, and head home to eat and rest. Do this several times per week and you will build muscle and strength at a rapid pace.
Lastly, it should be noted that while younger trainees may be able to workout more frequently, and may recover more quickly, this doesn’t guarantee that adding more workouts will increase gains.
Tip #3 – Balance Your Exercise Selection
Very rarely do I see inexperienced lifters using balanced workout routines.
What is a balanced routine? It means you are either working the body as a whole in a balanced manner, or working individual body parts in a balanced manner – taking muscle size into consideration, obviously.
Most trainees overwork the chest, while under-working shoulders and back. It is very common for novice lifters to hammer the chest with 3-5 compound movements, while only hitting the shoulders with one compound lift – and this shoulder exercise is usually an inferior one, like the Smith machine overhead press.
These types of unbalanced training programs also usually go easy on the back. Back exercises often include some moderately taxing lat pull downs, and maybe some light dumbbell or Hammer strength rows.
We haven’t even touched on the average lifter’s obsession with biceps and abs training.
To keep your weight training routines balanced, use about the same number of compound exercises and working sets for chest, back and shoulders. Also, don’t overwork smaller muscle groups such as biceps and abs. It’s simply not needed.
Tip #4 – If You Can’t Do It In 75 Minutes, Don’t Do It
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that workouts over 75 minutes are catabolic. That’s not the point of this tip. With that said, workouts that run over 75 minutes are usually bloated.
If you can’t destroy yourself in the gym in 75 minutes or less, then you probably aren’t pushing hard enough, or you’re taking too much rest between sets.
If the number of exercises you have crammed into your workout makes you exceed the 75 minute mark, then you’re probably trying to do too much. Probably. This is a general guideline, and not a carved in stone rule.
I recommend planning your compound movements first, per tip #1. After this point, fill in your training days with as many assistance exercises as you desire, as long as you are not training over 75 minutes per day.
Keeping your workouts around 60-75 minutes forces you to prioritize, and avoid workout bloat – such as trying to do 30 sets for biceps.
Recap – How To Build A Workout
In summary, use the following guidelines to help you structure a reasonable, effective and balanced workout:
- Train no more than 4 days per week.
- Train 60-75 minutes per day maximum.
- Use 2-3 heavy, taxing lifts per workout.
- Balance your training.
Do you have questions regarding your current workout routine? Leave them below and I will try to answer in a timely manner.