When you hit the sand, do you want to keep that shirt or coverup on? Is the pool at the resort more anxiety than relaxation? Summer does not need to be a time of stress! Time in the gym is a great way to boost confidence in your body and produce results that you’re proud of. There’s two different schools of thought when training is discussed. Most of the gym go-ers that have a background in competitive sports tend to do better and appreciate more of a structured and planned out program that does not get deviated from. And, there are those that can create plans with the best of them, but can intuitively deviate from the plan when it comes to actual execution and determining what is best for their body at the time of work out.
It’s no secret that having organization and a plan of what needs to be accomplished in the gym is a great thing – it lays the groundwork to be done and sets a path to accomplish specific goals. There are issues with being too rigid in programming, like structuring a program that is based off incremental increases in workload without consideration of the wear and tear on the athlete or gym goer. A five percent increase in weight every three weeks sounds great in theory but may not always be accomplished in that exact time frame due to injury or extra soreness. Use these tricks to keep yourself on path to train intuitively and accomplish that summer bathing suit ready body.
Make a Training Outline
This is the concept of knowing the essentials of what needs to be done and filling in the details. Whatever the weekly split may be – isolated muscle groups, full body training three days per week, etc. – have the essentials of what needs to be done spelled out. It may not be the exact exercises that you really want to do, but more of what you should or have to be doing. Keep these essential exercises limited to two or three per workout and use them as inspiration for the other exercises. The workout should be structured with the ‘must get done’ exercises first. Then, as you feel appropriate, add exercises for what you want to be doing or can have some fun doing in the gym.
Leg day is not always a favorite in the gym, but most definitely necessary! Essential exercises in my case would be barbell back squat, seated leg extensions and laying ham curls – each large muscle of the legs will be worked with the most efficient exercises for my body. Leg day is my favorite day, I tend to get inspired as I work and will add in some fun! LOVE doing smith glute bridges, good mornings and hyperextensions, but you can get as creative as you’d like and add variety into each different workout. Finish the fundamentals and use that strong performance as motivation to destroy what you want to be doing.
Kill Your Last Set
Once you have determined which exercises are essential for your progress, keep your mind open to the concept that you can add more reps to the last and most challenging set. Typically, the weight starts light and gets graduated per each set completed. During core, or essential, exercises you want to complete during each work out, there should be three to four sets per exercise and an increase in weight per each set. The last set should be about eighty-five to ninety-five percent of your one rep max. When the weight load is that high, the reps become quite low. The psychology behind leaving the door open to complete more reps is that since you do not have to do the reps means you might be motivated to do more if you feel you can. Losing the requirement of a specific number helps trick your mind into thinking your body can and should do more.
Continuing with the leg day example, seated leg extensions are not exactly my idea of a good time, but quads are a weak point of mine and must be worked on. On my core exercises, I tend to complete four sets per each exercise and max out my weight at about eighty-five percent of my one rep max. The weight gets graduated per each set and the number of reps start at fifteen, drop to twelve, decrease to ten and the last set a range of five to eight reps. Instead of giving an actual number of reps assigned to my last set, I use a range and challenge myself to complete the high aspect of the rep range. If I don’t hit it, not the end of the world, but my option to do more is always there if I feel I can.
Literally Roll the Dice
This is a super fun way to add variety into your work out, change things up and force yourself to do exercises or drills that you otherwise wouldn’t incorporate into your training. Find an old board game and take out the dice to create the days work out by assigning different exercises or drills to each number that can be rolled – put exercises down that you think are core, fun and some that are a cardiovascular challenge. A leg day number assignment for the die rolls can be:
1 = weighted walking lunges
2 = hack squats
3 = three sets of 25 burpees
4 = three sets 25 kettlebell swings
5 = stiff leg deadlifts
6 = three rounds of 30 second treadmill sprint on a 3% incline and 30 second fast walk
Simply roll the dice and create the order. This opportunistic game can give you the variety you crave as well as getting the hard and necessary work done too. Plus, when you’re rolling the dice, it seems by chance that you will have to die doing all of those burpees!
The gym doesn’t need to be mundane and have the same monotony week in and week out. Have fun with what you’re doing to create a summer body that you’re proud to show off at the beach or pool. Be intuitive in your training, work hard and enjoy the benefits in the sun!
Written by: Samantha Meinrod