We humans are often prone to complicating things that could remain simple. We over-think the straightforward and find problems where they needn’t exist.
And when it come to working out we are no different. We can become over specific very easily and this sends us down the bumpy road of muddled thinking, confusion, lack of results and frustration.
In years gone by I have followed Microcycles in Mesocycles (plenty of information online) and thinking back the main conclusion I drew was that you need two brains working on the same job!RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Yet as I spent the beginning of the the Summer season writing out client and group programmes for the coming weeks I noticed how, without much obvious thought, the planning naturally covered the phases of training that benefit us most over a period of months. I don’t suggest I’m a sports science genius, it simply underlined how we naturally adopt the patterns and rhythms that are best for us anyway.
If we are to fall off the wagon with our exercise routine as a result of circumstances, injury, diminished interest or simple laziness, it is quite natural to feel a bit guilty and off the pace. But remember, any elite class athlete has downtime built into their training cycle and knows the benefits and necessity of quieter periods.
Progress in fitness is best made with cycles of fast and furious and slow and subtle. Just as there should be peak and power training weeks planned, there are also recovery and regeneration times.
If you feel like you’re plodding blindly and perhaps ineffectively with your training and can’t see and end to your exercise malaise, have a look at my following suggestions. They can put order into your training, shake things up and build confidence that you are training effectively and working towards genuine results.
It is best to look at months ahead rather than weeks. It might mean two cycles of six weeks of exercise for instance, rather than 12 weeks of all out effort. Knowing when to slope off and take a break before building up makes all the difference to health, progress and performance.
For instance if there is an event ahead that you want to partake in, you’ll need to be at your best for that date and not be undertrained or overtrained and spent. For some it might be simply attaining the best shape you can for those summer weeks on the beach and in our summery outfits. For others it could be for a sport, activity or fitness challenge.
Whatever the goal, breaking the training periods into sections makes for healthy, injury free months and is the best route to the tip top condition you are seeking.
Here is the outline of a truly effective 10 week workout plan for simply shaping up and getting fit :
Body condition with resistance training: High reps of all muscle parts.
Approximately 25 – 30 reps of each exercise x two sets, 3 x per week.
Pick exercises which are compound movements, meaning ones that moves many muscles at the same time:
Chest press, squats, leg curls, shoulder press, pull downs and rows, tricep dips, rotations (wood chops or driving punches) Start with the muscle group you wish to improve the most.
ADD: Some good functional back. Try these:
Squat and reach forward touching the floor. Return to start position and repeat 4 x each side.
Squat and touch the floor to the side, 6 each side.
Squat, reach and rotate, 6 each side
These replicate daily moves nicely and will get the back working in all directions as it is designed to.
Easy, sweaty, low level workouts for now, no need to huff and puff just yet! As for duration – depending on your time slots, 20 to 30 minutes will be worthwhile. 3 x per week.
Weeks 2 – 6
It is time to up the weights and train heavier. Don’t worry about bulking up, it is the change of load and stimulation to the muscle fibres that counts now.
10 – 12 reps of each exercise. 2 sets will be sufficient (if you chose the weight well and feel fatigue by the last couple of reps).
Start adding in moves for detail i.e. Shoulder side raises, rear shoulder raises, biceps and leg extensions.
Cardio during this time it needs to be broken up into two sections.
2 x CV1 (the low level workout as before)
CV2. An additional workout which is slightly more demanding.
For instance if the easy and sweaty workout had your heart around 130 beats per minute, make the additional workout reach 150 for the last 10 – 15 minutes, so spend 50% of the workout’s duration at this higher level. Talking should still be fine at this level, if a little breathy. Remember every person’s heart rate varies so go by feel here.
3 cardio workouts of CV1 + CV2 + CV1
3 cardio workouts of CV2 + CV1 + CV2
Weeks 5 – 7 (Cardio continued)
1X CV3. Similar to CV2, reach the aerobic training area and after 5 minutes or so, push the heart up 15 beats say from 150 – 165. As soon as it touches 165 return back down to 150. What may be 150 to some in intensity could be 165 to others so go by feel again, you are looking to be short of breath but not all out of it.
Weeks 6 – 10 Body Conditioning
Lighten the weights a little now and vary the moves, i.e.
Single leg moves, lunges, single leg squats, curtsies, different angles and width squats.
Add details to glute work: Donkey kicks, glute press and single leg deadlifts.
Play with angles on the upper body: high and low chest presses, narrow and wide pull downs, change the wrist action for bicep curls, tricep kick backs and shoulders.
Cardio 6 – 10 weeks
Take a deep breath and get into sprint mode. Per week try:
CV2 x 1
CV 3 x 1
CV 4 x 1 – Over 10 minutes, build up the heart rate to CV3’s level. Pick up speed and power and add another 5 – 10 % of heart rate to that. So if that was 165, push on up to 175. Then drop back down to below where you started the sprint (say 158). As you hit the lower figure, start over again and push back up to 175. Repeat this 4 times.
Rest for 2 minutes.
Repeat 4 more times.
This will be your high end training and require a good effort. The best thing about this is that fitness improves rapidly and although you will feel pushed at the time, the recovery is fast, far less draining on the immune system and keeps the metabolism higher for much longer than endurance workouts.
It is important after an intense phase as these past weeks 6-10 to slow down or take time off. You’ll be at peak fitness and your next move should be to quieten down before cycling it all over again. Of course you could expand it all to 12 or 14 weeks.
If you’re an early riser you’ll be pleased to hear that working out before breakfast has actually, finally been proven to most effective for fat loss. It won’t be your best performance and output but what are your priorities?
So whilst you are busying yourself with this Super Shape-up Programme, my groups will be doing customized versions over the months in our classes – Floaty (stretching and balancing), Fun (dance yourself dizzy), Fast (Boot camp) and Furious (Alpine hill sprints…lucky lot eh?).
So if I get the same crowd throughout the months who have signed up for all my tricks, they will have followed a specific plan for priming fitness and muscles to their optimum.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!