We are all in search of the perfect training session. Those times in the gym where everything seems to flow in perfect harmony and balance with another eliciting the best pump we’ve ever had, the most pleasurable euphoric feeling one can attain with weights and the thought that every ounce of energy we put out that day all went towards creating a better version of ourselves. Am I right here or what? Of course, I am and you all know what I’m talking about because we chase this experience every time we step foot in the gym. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. I mean why else would we seek out the pain that a hardcore training session brings with it if there wasn’t some pleasure in it for us somewhere?
So then the question remains; how can we guarantee that this will occur each time we hit the weights? Well, what we do is look at and plan the structure of our workout, the sequencing of the exercises we have chosen to use and then find that perfect rep range that promises the experience mentioned above. Here’s how you do that.
Structuring the Workout
How you attack the task at hand has a tremendous impact on how effective the training session will be. While this train of thought will be lost on many, the actual structure of your workout plays a significant role in your ability to utilize intensity efficiently and effectively.
My first piece of advice in this regard is to perform the big lifts first. You’re locked and loaded and ready to explode by the time you reach the gym floor so why not use all of that energy and aggression towards moving a ton of weight. Hit the most difficult of compound movements that you’ll be utilizing first and work on using more and more weight.
Secondly, hit up more big lifts but this time change the angle that the muscle is being worked. Again, try to use lots of weight and work on getting stronger here.
Finally, finish off with exercises that really emphasize the eccentric portion of the repetition and take your time doing these nice and slow. Stretch out that muscle to increase further blood flow, improve range of motion, work on the mind to muscle connection and really feel everything you’re doing versus the blackout rage you used in the previous lifts.
Sequencing the Exercises
Very closely related to the structure of the workout itself is the way you sequence the movements you’re going to use in the plan.
As mentioned previously, you should be using big lifts first, followed by big lifts second but from a different angle and then your stretching exercises.
Now, here’s where the exercises you pick to use in succession come into play. You want to start with an exercise that targets the focus muscle group as a whole. That means the movement you do first needs to hit as much of the upper, lower, inner, outer and belly of the muscle as it can.
Now you might be thinking if you can find an exercise that does all of these things at once, why the need for other exercises? Great question and here’s the answer. Some movements, regardless of how hard you try, will only ever affect you in one region of the target muscle while other movements seem to fill the muscle up in its entirety. Those are the exercises I’m suggesting you do first. The ones where you have that perfect mind to muscle connection so that you can fully engage the area immediately. This way it’s almost as if along with working on moving mountains, you’re also priming your body for the next assault.
After that, pick an exercise that you’re not particularly strong on and get better at being strong on it.
Finally, end the workout with exercises that allow for the greatest range of motion for your structure and work every last inch of the movement from eccentric to concentric and forget about thinking of them as shaping exercises because there’s no such thing. You’re still building so make it hard.
The Rep Zone
Everyone wants to know how many reps they should do for this exercise and how many reps they should perform if they’re training calves. Do higher reps work better for arms and do lower reps work for building a big back? And so on and so on.
Here’s the answer to all of that. You have to lift heavy! Heavy weights in the four to six rep range maximize gains in strength and size. That’s it and the Max-OT training principles have proven this over and over again.
Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time training within this rep zone and has honestly pushed themselves to get stronger with each session will attribute their rapid gains in size and strength to this approach. You can pump up the muscle all you want with high reps and lots of sets but all you’ll be doing is satisfying an immediate need for that swollen feel that we all love. Unfortunately, that feeling is short lived and real gains will be nowhere in sight. Those of us who continue to dwell in the grueling four to six rep life will still get that pump but never lose it because of the muscle being created with each Max-OT session we complete.
The heavy side of things is where you want to be if building muscle is a priority for you.
I hope you have learned from reading this that there is a lot more that goes into a successful workout than just showing up and figuring things out on the fly. Much thought and preparation go into what may look like just another gym session to those who aren’t in the know.
A methodical, well planned and perfectly executed training session needs to be your goal with every day that passes. If you can achieve this you will experience greater gains in size and strength than ever before. Structure your game plan, place your exercises in a strategic order and move as much weight as you can for four to six reps. That’s it! Sounds pretty easy when you put it like that doesn’t it?