Sunday, January 25, 2009

Workout Plans and Intensity

The other day a woman commented to me at the gym that she wished she could work out the way I do. We had a nice conversation about our workouts and talked about the differences in them and a couple of things she could immediately incorporate.

First I'll attempt to describe why I might have even drawn any attention in the gym. My favorite tank top is hot pink. I literally pour sweat. Occasionally I grunt when I am lifting, and when I get fatigued I blow when I exhale, so if you walked in front of me I would for sure part your hair. I'm all over the place using free weights, cable machines and bodyweight exercises. I'm one of about 5 women there on M-W-F that even goes near the barbells. I'm not afraid to ask to work in a set with guys that could probably use me for bicep curls and I use weight plates for swings since they don't have kettlebells. Now you probably have the picture.

However, as I talked with this lady there were two things that immediately surfaced when we started talking about working out. She comes to the gym without a workout plan and she lacks intensity. These are two things that are totally within her control. If she incorporated a specific plan and a higher level of intensity, think of the progress she might make and the sense of accomplishment she would have when she leaves the gym! I get excited about this type of thing.

If I go to the gym without a plan I find that several undesirable things happen.

  1. It's hard to get my mind around my workout on the way there because I don't yet know exactly what I'm going to do.
  2. I tend to gravitate toward the exercises I like, which means my workout is probably not balanced.
  3. It's difficult to keep my rest periods tight if I'm picking and chosing my next exercise.
  4. It's easier for me to talk myself out of the last set.
  5. I just don't work as hard.

With a plan, I know exactly what I'm going to do before I get there. I can get my mind around it and be ready to work hard. My warm-up is more effective because it's based on the workout itself. I'm compelled to do the exercises that are in the plan (and in the correct order) whether I like them or not and I can keep my speed up because I know what's coming next. I always complete my workout because I'm determined not to wimp out.

Developing a sound, balanced workout plan takes some knowledge, so it's not to be taken lightly. There are several options out there if you don't have that knowledge. Access a certified personal trainer through your gym or community. Join a small workout group. Attend a local bootcamp session. Purchase a plan from a reputable trainer. One I would suggest that you can obtain online is Turbulence Training.

The other component that is easily incorporated into your current workout is intensity. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned athlete you can still step it up a notch. There are many ways to do this. Some suggestions would be:

  1. add circuit training workouts
  2. choose 2 exercises to superset and do as many sets as possible in 10 minutes
  3. add interval training
  4. decrease your rest between sets
  5. add weight
  6. increase your reps or sets
  7. add plyometric exercises
  8. add a series of bodyweight exercises such as squats, jump squats, jumping lunges, dynamic lunges, mountain climbers (you get the picture) as a finisher at the end of your workout

I could go on and on. I love hearing ideas about increasing intensity! If you want to blast fat, have fun and like kicking your own tail, step up the intensity and use your time efficiently by hitting the gym with a plan!

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Related Post(s):

Burn, Baby, Burn

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Bodyweight Workouts


Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Kelly! I couldn't agree with you more about having a plan and sticking to it...(made that mistake too many times myself)

I especially like #2 on your 'suggestions list"...that'll work great for when I hit the gym during lunch (like today)...never seem to have enough time...upping the intensity is definitely the way to go.



Kelley Moore said...

Thanks Fred! I love timed supersets! Usually I'll pair a lower body and upper body, even better if I can pair a combination move, such as a standing cable lunge/row as one of my moves. I'll choose a superset and the number of reps I'm going to do, then do as many sets as possible in 10 minutes. I'll rest a couple of minutes, then launch into a second, different superset for 10 minutes. Sure is effective even if you only have about 25-30 minutes, warm up and all!