With all the tips, workout programmes, and magazines like ‘Mens Health’, it can be rather difficult to put together a new workout regime that will not only work best for you but also get you the results you are aiming for. Thankfully over the past couple of years dipping in and out of different training regimes I have learnt a lot through both failure and success.
I recently moved into a new area (London), and setup a new gym membership. In my first session I pulled out my phone to check my iOS notes to find a regime that I did previously earlier in the year. It only took a few sessions with it when I felt like it was no longer optimum for me due to various reasons.
Such as having both the proper time, and energy. I realised that the workout regime I was doing took up way too much time. I am a fan of the full body training which uses every body part in some way during each session, rather than having isolation days (which are for competitive bodybuilders – not the average joe) but due to my previous injuries I refrain from any exercise/lift that puts excessive pressure onto my lower back or spine compression.
I realised that I had way too many exercises within one workout, it was a combination of compound and isolation movements to ensure I hit everything but it was just way too many to complete within a reasonable time.
Target to have a routine which takes up to an hour to complete from first lift to last. As particularly when cutting or maintaining your weight, you just do not have enough energy to last longer without overdoing it. This became my issue as I am only eating enough calories to do a cut.
As I’ve said I was doing too many movements, when I could reduce this amount by moving into compound movements where possible. A lot of compound movements I simply cannot do, or will not do until I am 100% certain all my back injury issues have repaired. So it comes down to only needing 5 particular movements which hit these five areas: Quads, Hams & Glutes, Push muscles, Pull muscles, and Core.
I have been able to find suitable quad exercises that are still somewhat compound movements (in that they use more than just one particular muscle which is an isolation) and are still safe for me through just trying things out. So each session involves either a Sumo squat, or a lunge with kettle bells. I alternate these between workouts, as it keeps things interesting and stabilisation muscles will also get some working, such as with my lunges I notice muscles around my knees and even glutes being used which are obviously a tad weaker and are catching up.
The hams & glutes get hit in one movement, weighted hip raises. Currently this is the same per each workout, as I am yet to find another solution that hits these well and is safe. I shall possibly alternate between a variant of this in using a bench under my shoulder blades to give more range of motion but I do want to find a decent variant for this at some point, for now I’m going well adding on weight, and will get into using barbells for this for some further weight.
Then there are two main push movements, the classic compound movement of the flat bench with barbell, and an overhead press. By keeping my core tight and no swinging involved the overhead press is safe enough for me to do, I am switching into kettle bells for as much natural movement as possible with these too. In both these movements secondary muscles get used like biceps, triceps, shoulders etc.
Time to pull something, which for me is dumbbells laid over an incline bench; I can’t do the classic bent over rows as that puts extreme pressure on my lower back. The alternated pull is Pull-downs, nice and simple. Plenty of work in the back for both of these.
Included in my Core category, is both the front in the abdominals with cable crunches and the lower back with hyperextensions holding a plate. It’s important for me to strengthen this area as much as possible, the lower back muscles are particularly weak as any exercise on them makes them scream in rage at me and often needs a long icing after a session.
Looking to simplify your workout? Try some of my suggestions, they are already working very well for me. In and out within an hour at the gym, remember to warm up at the start, and a nice stretch when home – feeling stronger already even whilst cutting.
A lot of credit goes to NerdFitness for a great post on how to create your own workout with very simple advice.