Gearing up to start a workout program in the gym? Looking to ensure you move forward properly to ensure optimal results?
When it comes to forming a workout, there are many ways you can go about getting the job done. There is not one ‘perfect’ strength training or cardio workout program for everyone, but rather, one that’s right for you.
This said, there are some important ground rules that everyone should remember when forming their workout program. If you are not abiding by these rules, you could be in for problems down the road.
Let’s look at the seven important commandments of an effective workout program.
Commandment #1: Thou Shall Prioritize Compound Lifts
Bicep curls, leg extensions, lunges, squats, push-ups… there are so many exercises, how can you choose?
First, prioritize the compound exercise. A compound exercise is one that utilizes more than one muscle group at once, thus you are getting a higher overall level of calorie burning as well as strength progression.
This includes moves like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, bent over rows, shoulder presses, lunges, and pull-ups. Do these first and foremost in your program. Once they are scheduled in, then you can begin focusing on the other more isolated exercises.
In some cases, you may not even need those isolation exercises depending on what your goal is and what type of workout program set-up you’re using.
Commandment #2: Thou Shall Obey The 48 Hour Rest Rule
Next, make sure that you are always obeying the 48 hour rest rule. What does this mean? It means that you must be taking at least 48 hours between workouts for the same muscle group.
This is the total amount of time it’s going to take for your muscles to recover appropriately between sessions. So if you hit chest on Monday, don’t do any chest focused exercises until Wednesday at the earliest.
But remember, because you hit shoulders while hitting chest (as they are called into play as well), this means shoulders should not be done until Wednesday as well.
This can take a good amount of planning on your part, but if done properly, will make a big difference in the level of recovery and results that you see.
For more on rest, check out this video:
Commandment #3: Thou Shall Incorporate Sufficient Variety
Another important rule of effective workout programming is that you are incorporating enough variety into the workout routine. This not only helps keep you mentally fresh and invested in the program, but it also helps keep your body responding as well.
If you are going to the gym and doing the exact same workout day after day, guess what? It’s only going to be so long before your body gets bored. And, when your body gets bored, you stop seeing results.
If you are stuck in a progress plateau, try changing things around. Usually this is enough to get your results moving again. It doesn’t need to be big changes you are making either. Something as simple as using a different rep range or changing the exercises you’re performing around should be sufficient.
Commandment #4: Thou Shall Not Skip Warm-Ups
Short on time in the gym? Figure you’ll bypass the warm-up to save time? You might want to think again.
Warm-ups are a must. Yes, they will take an additional five to ten minutes out of your workout routine, but they help ensure that you are going to see optimal results as your muscles will be firing stronger, thus you’ll be able to lift more weight.
Oh, and they help you avoid injury as well. If you are injured, you won’t be doing any exercise, so clearly this is critical. Take the time and do the warm-up. You’ll be thankful you did.
Here is more info on warm-ups.
Commandment #5: Thou Shall Always Use Proper Form
Using proper form is also a necessity when it comes to seeing great results. Too many people let their ego get in the way. They add weight sooner than they should be and even though form is sacrificed, keep going.
This usually leads them to either not seeing results at all, or worse, ending up injured.
The minute you move out of good form, stop the exercise. Lighten the load and start again. Using good form will ensure you are hitting the muscles are you are supposed to for that movement, guaranteeing you see superior results.
Commandment #6: Thou Shall Apply Overload
Next, it’s also a must that you apply proper overload. If you go into the gym and don’t challenge your muscles, you can’t expect to see results. It’s that simple.
Overload can come in the form of more reps performed or more weight lifted. It doesn’t really matter as long as you get it done one way or another.
Remember, you need change in your workout in order to get your body to change. If you aren’t changing anything, there’s no motivation to get stronger or more fit.
Commandment #7: Thou Shall Have Fun
Finally, the last commandment is one that is too often neglected - fun. That’s right, your workouts should be fun as well. If you aren’t having fun in the gym, the chances that you keep going back for more are going to be a lot less and you might just find that you forgo exercise altogether.
With so many different ways to structure your workout, there’s no reason to not have fun. If your current plan isn’t enjoyable, try a few new types of exercises instead.
Remember that you don’t even have to be doing exercises in the gym to get in a great workout either. You can take your workouts outdoors, to the local park, or to a sporting field if that’s what you prefer as well. Exercise comes in many shapes and forms and while not all variations will yield the same results, having fun needs to be a priority.
Find little ways to make fitness fun, such as fitness model Jen Jewell is doing in this video.