Gone are the days of 3 sets of 10, on 4-5 exercises, for 45 minutes of training. Whilst this method can be effective in gradually progressing, don’t be afraid of a bit of variance. More often that not the hour of training you spend with your trainer or by yourself is valuable “me time”. I personally believe this means it should be enjoyable! Training shouldn’t be a chore and mixing things up doesn’t mean you wont progress. When it come to planning workouts and personal training sessions I follow a simple set of guidelines.
Guidelines Not Rules
It is important to mention that these definitely are not set rules. They are there to loosely guide the session as a whole but they don’t dictate 100%. They look a little like this (these also fluctuate in importance and order!):
- Have a definite goal – this can be as broad or narrow as you like.
- Warm up for what you’re going to do.
- Hit the basic movement patterns you need to achieve the goal.
- Progress from the previous session – this could be weight, volume, intensity or complexity.
- Don’t panic if it doesn’t go exactly to plan.
- Work hard but have fun.
Following these means I can lay out a session that may look different at a glance but on closer inspections hits everything I want it to. For example, I may do the following circuit in week 1:
- Complete 4 Rounds of:
- 10 Squats
- 5 Press Ups
- 10 Crunches
- Rest 60 seconds
This is a total of 40 squats (lower body push), 20 press ups (upper push) and 40 crunches (abdominal flex). It will also take approximately 8-12 minutes to complete. The following week, or next session I focusing on full body endurance and general fitness may look like this:
- Complete 3 Rounds
- 12 Lunges (6 each leg)
- 10 Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- 8 Sit Ups
Completely different right? Not necessarily, this works out as 36 lunges (lower push), 30 push press (upper push) and 24 sit ups (abdominal flex). While the total volume for lower body and abdominal has decreased slightly, the complexity has gone up. In contrast, The total volume for the upper body has increase as well as the overall intensity due to no set rest. Whilst on paper they look pretty different, these two workouts progress nicely. The complexity has increased and the volume has been similar or more in the simple movements. This is just a small example of how sessions can be kept interesting without losing sight of the overall goal.
Whenever I am planning workouts for a Personal Training Session in Twickenham, London, I try not to overthink things. For someone looking for general physical preparedness, you simply need to know what you are working towards. If you can then keep the movement patterns, volume and intensity progressing, you’re going to get better!