So, I figured this was as good a time as any for a post on training, and how I'm building my workout.
When mates ask me what the best fitness programme is, I invariably say "the only programme that works is the one you'll stick with". That doesn't just mean "don't give up", but also that structure and a certain degree of continuity is necessary. Changing workout plans more often than underwear is not only stressful; it can and will affect your progress in a big way. And trust me, I know how tempting it is: The internet is packed with great diets and training programmes, and it's hard to settle on one.
That isn't to say that you can't necessarily combine training programmes, or change training plan after the set amount of time (generally 6-16 weeks) has been completed. In fact, the latter is most certainly recommended by most trainers!
Right, preaching out of the way. Good. Because I get pissed off at training programmes so quickly. And because of that, I've tried a fair few. Of which I've stuck to three. From these three, I'm going to be developing my training approach up until August. So, here they are, along with the things I'm going to take away from each of them.
1. University Rowing Training
Big shout out to LUBC! This training programme was developed and determined by a coaching team, and comprised of rowing itself, both on the water and on the ergometer, cardiovascular training and weight training. Each aspect had clear and measurable goals, was completed with teammates, so you never trained alone, and, perhaps the most important reason that it was so "easy" to stick to: it was entirely non optional. Rowing training took me from 120kg down to 88kg in 2 years, and got me to a level of fitness I haven’t known before or since. A typical week would contain up to 40 hours of training spread over six days.
Key points to take away: Obligation, Measurable Goals.
2. Men’s Health 3 Day Split Workout:
This plan, combined with a strict diet plan, delivered quick results, which were even quicker after my adjustments. It was however rather time-intense if coupled with a 40+ hour job; it involved a 5 day rotation of four days on then one day off. It split the body into 3 different areas and focused on one per session. This enabled me to lift four days in a row, training legs on both the second and fourth days of each rotation.
Key points to take away: Routine, Split Training
3. Stronglifts 5x5:
This training was first developed by strength athlete and coach Reg Park. In recent years, Mehdi of stronglifts.com has revitalized this classic strength programme and made it accessible to the masses. The focus is squarely placed on full body movements; Squats form the core of a Stronglifts workout. These are followed by either Bench Press & Rows, or Overhead Press & Deadlifts. Optional supporting exercises such as focused arm work or Pull-Ups/Dips can then be added if you want. This system really built my strength pretty quickly. Within a couple of months, I increased my back squat from 5 sets of 5 reps at 110kg, to the same at 155kg, whilst maintaining correct technique, getting down to just below parallel on each rep.
Key points to take away: Simplicity, Short Workouts
I took all of the "Key Points" into consideration when coming up with my new training programme:
- I train at lunch, so it has to be fairly short.
- I like to keep my workout in my mind, not on paper, so it has to be simple.
- I like predictability, so it needs to integrate into my routine.
- I want to be able to train several days in a row, so it has to train different areas on different days.
- Progress has to be measurable.
- It has to feel obligatory.
What I came up with, you can see below. It takes less than an hour to complete incl. warmup & shower. It has a limited number of exercises per workout. Each workout is pinned to a day of the week. It employs a body part split approach. Measurable goals have been set. The combination of writing about it on the blog, and working at Men's Health provides plenty of obligation, as does the impending August 10th deadline.