It has come to my attention that the majority of gym goers have no clue what a perfect gym day actually looks like, and this saddens me.
There’s nothing I hate more than to see people at the gym wasting their time. I know it isn’t their fault but I wish people would take the time to learn a thing or two about going to the gym. I mean we have the internet, information is free.
That’s why I decided to write up this little gem, so hopefully someone that’s actually taking time to learn a thing or two about working out finds it and helps them out.
Now I hate speculations as much as the next guy but I’ve been going to commercial gyms ever since I was of age to join one and I’m certain that a large portion of gym goers have no clue what they’re doing at the gym. If I were to guess I would say 70%> of people are running on the treadmil, eliptical, step climber, and blindly following a routine they found online.
Which I believe is causing them more harm than good when they step foot inside the gym.
But have no fear, Josh is here and I’m going to tell you exactly how to go about having a effective workout in order for you to actually benefit from your training.
Now picture yourself driving to the gym.
You have your tunes on and and your coffee or pre workout in your hand. You’re sipping away while listening to 50 cent (or who ever hypes you up) while getting your mind right.
During this whole car ride you need to picture yourself at your strongest. Physically make yourself feel strong and grounded. Picture yourself hitting new PR’s (personal records) in the lifts you’re about to perform.
Picture all that hard work paying off.
Get your mindset ready to kill it in the gym.
So you finally make it to the gym and you step out of the locker room.
Where to go to now?
Treadmill to warm up?
No no no my friend. We’re going to the corner and performing a dynamic warm up.
Dynamic warm ups are best to perform before your workouts.
The reason for this is because warming up in a dynamic fashion raises your core temperature, increases heart rate, increase flexibility, and fires up your central nervous system so your muscles are ready to perform movements that require them to be at their most optimal level in regards to performance.
You go to the corner and take out your foam roller (if you don’t have one, buy one). Start by rolling out your lower back, then your upper back. As you move down your body hit your IT band (outer thigh) and then roll over onto your quads and hamstrings.
Remember don’t roll over your muscles for too long. I don’t remember where I read this, but anymore than 5 rolls over a muscle will start to relax it and trust me we don’t want relaxed muscles while squatting.
Finish foam rolling and stand up. At first foam rolling may take you a little longer than normal but once you pick it up you can do a whole foam rolling routine in 5 minutes.
After rolling yourself out start your dynamic warm up.
Begin with 50 jumping jacks (if can’t do 50, do as many as you can until you are a little out of breath and your heart rate is up).
Next perform 25 seal jumps; if you’ve never done these they’re basically jumping jacks but your arms are moving horizontally instead of vertically. So it looks like a seal’s clapping. And every time your arms move outwards and you open up your chest, make sure you get a stretch in your pectoral muscles (chest muscles).
Time for some stretching.
You can either do these in place or walk while performing these stretches. (I recommend walking. It’ll help with your coordination and balance.)
Figure 4’s – Create the number 4 with your legs, grab your knee and ankle and pull up towards your chest.
Reverse Lunge – Stand up tall with good posture and lunge back. In the lunge position sink your hips in to get a deeper stretch in your hip flexor (great stretch for people who sit all day)
Hurdle Stretch – Stand tall and grab your ankle with the same side hand and lean forward while keeping your lower back straight. You’re trying to get a stretch in your quads and hip flexors.
Frankenstein’s – Stand tall and swing your right foot forward and touch your left hand, and vise versa.
Pogo Jumps – Pogo jumps are a great exercise to fire up your legs. They’re a plyometric exercise that require you to use your ankles for most of the jumping.
Rolling V-sits – Sit down with your legs straight and create a V by opening them up. Roll back until your feet touch the ground behind you and then roll forward and reach through your legs, still in the V position.
Mountain Climbers – Get in the push up position and bring your leg forward and put your foot is next to your hand. Sink your hips deeper for a better stretch.
Froggers – Get in the push up position and with a little jump bring both legs forward and put each foot next to each hand. You’ll land in a deep squat position, sink your hips deeper and then bring your hips up while keeping your hands on the floor, this will stretch your hamstrings. Go back into the squat position and kick your legs back out into the push up position.
Deep Body Weight Squats – Perform deep ASS TO GRASS squats and on the last rep use your elbows to push out your knees to get a stretch in your groin.
[cleveryoutube video=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCWoDhqqrAw” vidstyle=”3″ pic=”” afterpic=”” width=”” starttime=”” endtime=”” caption=”” showexpander=”off” alignment=”center” newser=””]
Note: In the video I do a few reps of each exercise for demonstration purposes and obviously to avoid making this video lengthy, but in the description of the video I wrote down the number of reps you should aim for on each exercise. If you feel tight on any day don’t be shy to increase the number of reps for some more stretching and better mobility.
Shoulder Dis-locators: 10 reps for as many sets as you need.*
*most trainers are going to argue with me about this one. I’ve heard multiple times from different trainers that most people shouldn’t be doing this exercise and I’d have to disagree. I understand the reasoning, which is it can cause more harm than good for someone with shoulder problems and I agree in that sense but I’ve directly worked with people that sit for 12+ hours a day because of their jobs. If these people could do it you probably could too. It doesn’t hurt to try and if it does hurt then consult your doctor. Your shoulders full range of motion (ROM) is a full 360 degrees.
The reason most people don’t have a full ROM in the upper extremities is because of imbalances that occur through improper posture, which is most like caused by bad program design (you should NEVER work out your front muscles more than your back muscles).
Band Pull Aparts: Years ago I learned that performing 100 total reps in each workout will make your back huge. So what I like to do is perform sets of 25 reps until I hit 100 total reps. So I do my first set of 25 right after I finish my sets of shoulder dis-locators. Then I do another set after my first exercise and then another set after the second exercise. You get the point. Do 100 total reps and you’ll have a hell of a stronger and bigger back.
Seems like a lot right?
Its not. That whole routine, once you know it well will take you 5-10 minutes tops (not including the foam rolling).
Now that we’re all warmed up and our body is READY to workout lets hit our first exercise.
Usually I like this exercise to be an explosive movement. Something like a medicine ball toss or as simple as a vertical jump.
1. Vertical Jump– 3×5
The reason I like performing explosive movements first thing in the workout is because it really fires up your central nervous system. This will translate into more weight you can lift.
After performing the vertical jumps you want to move onto your main lifts, which are compound movements. These exercises require more than one muscle to perform and therefore have a greater training response.
For this example we’re going to have The Perfect Leg Day.
We’ll start with the mother of all exercises…The Deadlift.
First thing’s first, we have to warm up with the deadlift itself if we want to perform this exercise safely and effectively.
If you’re strong, throw on 45’s on each side and perform 5 reps. If you’re weak start with lighter weight but I recommend doing these on low pins or blocks because deadlifting 95 pounds off the ground throws off the whole form.
Follow this warm up scheme for the deadlift, you can also apply it to any compound movement you need to warm up with.
Deadlift Warm Up*
*your weight will be different depending on your strength levels.
5 RM (rep max) – 315 lbs
5 reps – 135 lbs
5 reps – 185 lbs
3 reps – 215 lbs
3 reps – 245 lbs
3 reps – 260 lbs
1 rep – 285 lbs
1 rep – 305 lbs
If your max is heavier then add more triples (3 reps) and singles (1 rep) into the warm up. The reason we keep reps really low is because we’re not trying to fatigue the muscle, we’re just trying to get it ready to lift the heaviest it can, safely.
Once you’re done with the compound warm up proceed with your parameters (3×5,5×5,etc)
2. Deadlifts – 5×5
Nice work. Half of the workout is complete and we actually had a effective strength training session.*
*To be honest if we just did 1 exercise a day 5 days a week and worked towards getting freakishly strong, in months time we’d see some nice progress.
But we want to see progress faster and we have the time to work out so why not throw in some supplemental lifts?
Supplemental lifts or accessory lifts will only help you on your road to changing your body. These lifts are also going to help your main lifts become stronger.
So to keep going with The Perfect Leg Day theme, lets move on to some uni-lateral exercises to help us strengthen our legs individual and help with balance, coordination, and single leg strength.
One of my favorite uni-lateral exercises is the Walking Lunge.
Why do I love this exercise?
It allows for greater depth and a better gluteal and hamstring recruitment, allowing for better development of the posterior chain. Which if you’re an athlete the posterior chain is your everything.
I like to super-set this exercise with a single leg posterior chain exercise. Something like a single leg bridge, weighted if you can.
Perform each exercise consecutively
3A. Barbell Walking Lunge – 3×6-8/each leg
3B. Weighted Single Leg Bridge – 3×8-10/each leg
If you’re pressed for time then you can do a core exercise and call it a day. Serious.
That would be enough to give you really good results.
A lot of people think that more is better but that’s not always the case.
When it comes to fitness and working out less is better. Like I said if the workout routine was brilliantly designed by a good strength coach then you can even get away with doing one exercise a day.
Now if you do want a longer workout which I understand some people do, you can either add another super-sets or tri-set. With these exercises I like to work more on movement mechanics and performance than poundage. So lets pick three good exercises to perform.
4A. Goblet Squats – 2×10
4B. Step Ups – 2×10-12
4C. Reverse Lunges – 2×10/each leg
Remember we’re working on movement and performance. You really want to concentrate on performing these exercises with the best form you can.
Lastly I like to perform abdominal exercises. I don’t get carried away either. One or two exercises and that’s enough for the core. A lot of people think that countless reps of crunches are going to get them their dream abs.
This can’t be further from the truth. Crunches are towards the bottom of my list of effective ab exercises. And not because of the pressure it adds to the lower back especially in people with tight hip flexors (which is a big chunk of the population).
But because your core muscles are 3 completely different muscles. If you’re stuck only doing crunches your just working one of the three abdominal muscles. You have to make sure you do a variety of core exercises that will target the abdominal muscles as a unit instead of isolating them.
For this workout we’ll be performing one of my favorite core exercises that really target the abdominals.
5. Loaded Carries – 3×50 yard
Don’t believe this is an abdominal exercise?
According to a study done by Stuart McGill, the loaded carry (along with other strongman training exercises) activate and stimulate the entire core. (1)
Perform 3 sets of 50 yards and you’ll be feeling it the next day. Trust me.
The perfect gym day. Something that many want but often times never get.
I outlined everything you should do in order to really take advantage of the gym and start seeing results. If you’re smart you’d study this and apply it to your upper body.
If you have any questions drop them in the comments below and if you found this helpful hit the Share button. I’d really appreciate it.
Til next time, stay strong.