How do you setup an effective training plan? If you’re reading this, then you might be unsure of where to start or you want to make changes to your current training plan.
In this post I will go through the following key points for designing an effective training program:
- Current Goals
- Effective Exercises
- Training Volume
- Training Phases
- Training Frequency
- Advanced Training Techniques
What Are Your Current Goals?
Before even starting to design a training program you need to be very specific with outlining your goals and what you are trying to achieve in the long-term.
Your goals could be:
- Preparing For A Fitness Competition
- Dropping Stubborn Body Fat
- Getting Ready For Summer
- Changing Your Lifestyle
- Feeling Stronger & Healthier
Once you understand what your goals are, you can then move forward to identify the other areas for building your training plan.
Write down your goal and set a realistic time-frame, most of my clients who have completed the 90 Day Fitness Model Challenge found that this time-frame was enough to have great results. This time-frame also allowed them to focus on different training phases with Hypertrophy, Strength and Endurance.
Training Phases & Volume
To have the most effective body composition results whether it be for focusing on dropping body fat or building strength and toning up, you need to be incorporating resistance based training phases into your training plan. The most effective resistance based training phases I utilise for my clients programs are:
- Hypertrophy (Building Muscle Focus)
- Strength (Building Strength Focus)
- Endurance (Increasing Endurance Capacity)
By focusing on these key phases you will be able to develop lean body mass, build strength with your CNS (Central Nervous System) and increase your cardiovascular / endurance capacity.
Each of these phases work side by side, you can’t have one without the other. The strength (CNS) development will aid your hypertrophy phases and the hypertrophy phases will aid your strength phases. Building your endurance capacity will effectively aid all areas of your training program.
Training volume is utilised by identifying weaker areas and prioritising more volume around those areas. For example you may want to develop stronger legs and find your upper body is bigger than your lower body.
In this case, you would prioritise more exercises towards your lower body rather than your upper body.
Which Exercises Are Best?
The exercises you choose will revolve around prioritising training volume and your goals, with your strength & hypertrophy phases you should be incorporating the same resistance based exercises but changing the sets, reps and resting time. For example:
- Hypertrophy Phase (4-8 weeks) – Sets: 3 Reps: 8-12 Rest: 60 seconds
- Strength Phase (4-8 weeks) – Sets: 1-5 Reps: 3-6 Rest: 2-3 minutes
- Endurance Phase (4-8 weeks) – Sets: 3-5 Reps: 12-18 Rest: 30 seconds
In this example above you can see that depending on your phase you will be completing different amounts of sets / reps, as well as resting time changes.
Below is an example of exercises you can incorporate for each training day, this is based on a 6 day split with 1 rest day.
- Day 1 – Legs (Posterior): Barbell Squats, Stiff-Legged-Deadlifts, Barbell Deadlifts, Leg Press (high feet position), Lying Leg Curls (machine), Seated Calf Raise (machine)
- Day 2 – Shoulders / Arms: Standing Military Press, Dumbbell Lateral Raise, Triceps Pushdown, Rear Delt Raise, Bench Dips, Seated Dumbbell Curl, Barbell Curl
- Day 3 – Chest / Back: Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Chest Flys, Wide Grip Lat Pulldown, Bent Over Barbell Row, Straight-Arm Pulldown
- Day 4 – Lower Body (Anterior): Barbell Front Squats, Walking Dumbbell Lunges, Leg Press (low feet position), Hack Squats, Leg Extensions
- Day 5 – Abs / Core: Russian Twist, Air Bike, Hanging Leg Raise, Plank, Cable Crunch, Toe Touchers, Swiss Ball Crunch
- Day 6 – HIIT: Hill Sprints (1 minute 100% Intensity, 30 seconds 30% intensity) 15 minute session
I don’t recommend long extended cardio sessions for my clients (unless you are training for an endurance type event), generally you will have much more effective body composition results focusing on a resistance based training plan. However, 1-2 quick 15 minute HIIT sessions per week can help accelerate fat loss and boost your metabolism allowing your body to burn calories for hours after each session.
Training Frequency & Recovery
At the beginning stage of a training program, you may want to have 1 day rest between each workout and then slowly build up to having only 1-2 rest days per week. It’s also important to note that a deload week should be implemented every 8 weeks of training. This is a time when your body’s CNS (central nervous system) can have a well earned break and allow a time to rest and recover.
A deload week will also ensure you aren’t hitting any training plateaus, as you progress through a physique transformation you will notice at times your progress with your training my stall. You may also notice your body is more tired than usual, this is a sign you may need to implement a deload week to allow a time for effective recovery.
Advanced Training Techniques
As you progress and adapt to your training plan, it’s important to implement some Advanced Training Techniques, these techniques will allow you to continue getting getting maximum performance, output and results along your journey. Below i’ll outline some important training techniques which you can incorporate into your training program:
Drop sets are an essential training technique to push through plateau’s and continue forcing growth and progress. Essentially you will finish a set and then immediately lower your weight and continue for more reps until failure. When implemented correctly into a training program, drop sets will increase blood flow into your muscles and further fatigue your muscles, forcing extra growth and results.
Normally when you complete a set in the gym you will be recruiting a certain number of muscle fibers, once you lower the weight down and continue for more reps, your muscles will be further recruit different muscle fibers, this will help develop the muscle more than training with normal sets.
Super-setting can be a great way to utilise time in the gym, and allows you to target more areas in shorter amount of time. Essentially a super-set is when you complete two set’s for different muscle groups without a rest break. For example a super-set could include bench press and lat pull-down, once the bench press set is complete you will go over and do your lat-pull down set without a rest in between exercises.
Strength training is a great time to implement super-sets as you will have longer rest periods in-between sets which you can utilize for training other body parts in the same training session.
There is two parts of a contraction which most people don’t realise, they are concentric and eccentric muscle contractions.
Concentric Contraction: Shortening your muscle as it acts against resisting force, for example, a bicep curl you will be lifting the weight concentrically upwards towards your chest.
Eccentric Contraction: Lengthening your muscle after the shortening (concentric) movement. Using the bicep curl example above, you would be lowering the weight down towards your waist.
By slowing the eccentric contraction down to around 3 seconds during your hypertrophy phase 1, you will essentially build greater body composition results, this is typically why lighter weights are used with hypertrophy than strength phase training which focuses on faster concentric / eccentric contractions.
Rest-Pause’s are excellent for forcing more reps out in the same sets, especially when training with high rep ranges in your endurance phase. Once you’ve reached your reps in a set, take a quick break for 10-15 seconds and continue on with a few more reps until you’re out of energy.
Remember to keep Rest-Pause’s for the last sets of your workouts when you’re aiming for complete muscle failure.
This is one of my favourite advanced training techniques which i’ve implemented throughout my career personally and for my clients. Very similar to eccentric training which involves slowing down the eccentric (lowering) contraction targeting hypertrophy.
When lifting much heavier weights, find a spotter to assist you with the concentric contraction and then have them force the weight down (eccentric contraction). It’s best perform these types of negatives in the beginning of your session when you have more energy to perform them.
Giant-Sets are great for mixing things up with your workouts, you can essentially stimulate and force more growth. To perform a giant set you will add up to 7 exercises within the same muscle group, for example: assisted chin up’s, seated row, wide grip lat pull down, straight arm lat push down.
Putting Everything Together
I’m hoping that this post shed some light on the different areas required for an effective training plan. It’s to understand the more complex areas but also have an idea of your short-term and long-term goals.
I believe any training program should be implemented as lifestyle change, an effective training plan should allow you to live a healthier and happier life.
If you are looking to get started and wanting a program with advanced level training plans already set up for you, as well as specific targeted calorie meal plans, definitely join the 90 Day Fitness Model Challenge today.
You can join today with an 80% discount, if don’t receive incredible results, you get your money back.