Continuation and extension of goals

Reached your goal? Awesome work!

Let’s have a think about where you could go from here, so often the extension is further or faster or in the case of strength, heavier.

Breaking this down, they are obvious continuations of initial goals, say we wanted to run a 10k we get there, and then think I’d like to PB or run a half-marathon?

We touched on how to incorporate supplementary work into our training last week, and this also applies for continuation (or extension of goals). Often the workload to further improve has to be varied, in the case of running a 10k faster, we would need to improve speed and endurance coupled with strength.

In order to run faster, our muscles have to be able to propel us faster, this requires greater tolerances from our joints. When we start to increase the forces without the underlaying architecture being ready, our injury risk increases.

Adding stability to the mix – within our given discipline, we will have enhanced a set of muscles, now is the time to think about the supporting muscles and their recovery.

Think of it like this, we could have built up our quads and hamstrings, but our hip flexors are on edge when we go fast. We need to identify these areas and put plans in place to increase their tolerances, this will increase our overall tolerance to the given activity.

Often things like accessory work (strengthening of supporting muscles) and stretching/flexibility training are the ‘yeah I should really do those’ items.

If we really want to improve, all of these areas have to be brought up to unlock the next level.

How often do you check the air pressure in just one tyre? – thinking about our body as a unit, we need to be checking off all areas that influence performance.

Running example:

  1. Feet – our they in good shape, trainers right for our pronation and within mileage range (yep they have a range for optimum support!)
  2. Calf’s – wouldn’t even like to imagine how many contractions they perform every day, plus all the force of running – are they stretched out and rested properly
  3. Knees – have we looked at stability work, do we warm them up prior to running?
  4. Quads/Hamstrings – have we worked to strengthen them to support or hips and knees?
  5. Hip flexors – there is a direct correlation between hip extension and speed, our hips should not be ‘tight’
  6. Glutes – if our hips are able to make us faster, then we know the glutes are playing a role in that also!

There are many other areas we could’ve dropped into, however, my propensity to waffle is in the forefront of my mind….

When looking to extend your goal, keep in mind the need to develop all the supporting areas, this will put you in good stead for getting to and surpassing another goal!

Want some help exploring the best route for continuation or extension of your goals? – speak to Team SF email info@spikefitness.co.uk or call 07597215652 

Performance Improvement

As we begin to notice performance improvements, be that travelling further/faster or that the workout we are doing is becoming easier, it can lead to the feeling that we should be doing more.

When training someone, I like to think of progressions once we have completed an activity at a higher level, for example, a speed increase over a given distance for a couple of workouts. This rules out it being one of those golden days, we all have them, and they are great!

Once we know that the change is repeatable, it’s important to adjust our plans with moderation, if we are currently running 3 times per week, change one of the runs to be faster/further rather than all of them. This allows the body to catch up, ensure we are getting sufficient rest and recovery.

Depending on how far into our training we are, we can then look to branch out and solidify the results we are getting. So, for running – addition of hill reps/sprints or splitting runs, so there is one longer one.

Supplementary work is key to continued improvement, for running we need to ensure our underlying architecture is sound, so perhaps some resistance work to help the ligaments/tendons and muscles to strengthen. If we were resistance training, then recovery stretching and/or yoga to ensure muscles are being actively stretched out.

We also need to consider how we are fuelling ourselves, as we work harder our energy output increases and ensuring we have the right balance is key to continuing to see progress.

When considering which route to take when increasing performance, we should be mindful of the impact this could have on other activities, this is where having a good lay out for the week is key.

A quick example of this:

MondayEasy run
TuesdayResistance session
WednesdayHill run
Thursdayrest
FridayLong run
SaturdayStretching/yoga
SundayRest

There are many ways this could be setup, the key thing is looking at the loading, 3 sessions in 3 days which target similar area’s but in different ways.

Rest the day before the longer run, then active recovery on the following day.

As always, this will very much depend on the individual, the tolerances that have been built up and the target that we are aiming for, however, the story remains the same – ensure we are building up in a controlled fashion, ensuring adequate rest/recovery time and most of all keeping it enjoyable!

Need some help or direction? – speak to a Team SF email info@spikefitness.co.uk or call 07597215652 

How to increase distance

Quick search of Dr Google – ‘How to increase running distance’ – I know I am picking on running!

  • 10% rule
  • Don’t follow the 10%
  • Less days more volume
  • Speed work
  • Hill work
  • Interval training

The first two say it all really, and I wish I made it up, both of those were on the first page of the results and results 1 and 3 respectively.

Let’s do some dissecting, Firstly, I have used the 10% rule with clients to great effect, others, I have completely ignored it – why?

The rule itself creates a boundary, and a very good one – it stops dramatic increases in training distance and volume when applied in a consistent manner i.e. against a single variable such as time or distance.

The rule helps guide people to stay within safer limits and helps prevent injury, particularly overuse injuries whilst working towards their goal, such as a 5 km race or when building up someone’s base fitness levels.

Before I lay into the rule, these critics aren’t the rule’s fault. More that, as with everything, things are more grey scale and with the Amazon Prime era we live in, the headline gets grabbed, and the supporting information is largely forgotten about.

Increase distance by 10% per week quick maths:

Week 1 at 2km

Week 12 at 5.7km

Week 24 at 17.9km

Week 36 at 56.2km

Week 48 at 176.3km

Rounding off the year with a healthy 258.2 km, easy work – yeah right!

Time works out similarly, so when looking at increasing distance we need to use our own grey matter:

What do we want to work up to?

What are our time constraints?

Think of it like this:

I want to be able to run 5 km – use the 10% rule to work backwards, add in a few weeks of wiggle room and build up slowly creating the base level of fitness (Cardio basics) so when you get to the 5 km it’s enjoyable!

Once we get to the aim, we can then think about where we want to go – I’m thinking running the same distance faster or perhaps running further. Just continuously adding 10%, be it distance or time, ignores what is attainable for our body.

One more quick point here, if you were to run 2 x week, each run being 2 km, you could add a third run of 2 km which would be a 50% increase in both time and mileage, yet within the scope of what your body is used to – food for thought….

Hot takes from the 10% rule, use it as a guide to stopping overtraining, keeping distance or time in check and as a calculator for creating a plan for a distance goal.

Changing session volume.

When we think about increasing an activity, we also need to consider rest (and repair). Greater stresses will require, at the start, more recovery time.

So another solid approach is to increase the time we run for but allowing more rest between the activities, this also mixes very well with having some shorter and longer activities:

 Week 1Week 4Week 8Week 12
Day 12km2km2km3.5km
Day 2    
Day 3 2km2km2km
Day 42km   
Day 5 2km4km5km

Pacing for each would be different, as we would need to allow our bodies to get used to the longer distances.

Speed work/Hill work/Intervals.

Going to pop these two together as this is long already!

Speedwork, this can be either faster shorter runs, bursts of speed – arguably interval work, but that’s a discussion for another day!

Hill work, as it says on the tin – run up a hill and mosey back on down, the key to this one is using the down to recover before going back up again, and again…. Oh and also start with a smaller hill and 2-3 sets before using something like the 10% rule to increase!

Interval work, this could easily be a whole write-up by itself, super simple time:

Note – these follow a warm up.

On/off – fast pace for a distance/time followed by a slower one to recover repeating

e.g. 4 minutes at a comfortable pace followed by 2 minutes of harder effort (around 80-85% effort or in normal terms being able to say one or two words).

Sprints – basically following the same philosophy as above, however, the sprints are kept to a much short time span of around 10-30 seconds, with adequate recovery time, when starting out think about 10 seconds and recovery being when you are ready to go again rather than a given time window.

There are many others and even more variations available.

So hopefully that’s given a good overview of how to increase distance, and some ways we can adapt the workouts to help with performance, which we’ll drop by next week.

If you would like some assistance with increasing distance in your workouts speak to Team SF, email info@spikefitness.co.uk or call 07597215652 

Cardio Basic’s

Cardio gets a lot of heat, mainly as it tends to be the go-to training for weight loss and because it’s open to all, you can get a very large anecdotal dataset!

I prefer to think of it as a tool, same as conditioning work, resistance training etc

Walking – underrated, Cross trainer – underrated, cycling – underrated

Why? – because you can improve your base levels of aerobic fitness, these are largely transferable to other activities that we undertake.

Improve our base and stairs become easier, walking to town and back becomes easier.

Building a solid foundation for cardio is just like a house or skyscraper, the foundations can dictate the height you can build to. When starting out, we need to allow our bodies to adapt to the change let’s pick out a few of the points for a runner:

Breathing – we need to be able to get the oxygen in.
Legs – our muscles need time to adapt to the changes.
Joints – knees and ankles will be under a greater than normal stress level.
Feet – friction, impact all needs to be built up to stop things like blisters, bruising etc

A good base can allow all of these things to be mitigated, I say mitigated as they may still occur, however, at a much lower level and more importantly in a more controlled fashion. When starting out, running at a slower pace for 2km will give much greater control over our body than running 5km at the top end of our heart rate.

Maybe a target is to be able to run comfortably 3 times a week rather than destroying ourselves in the first one and lamenting the thought of the next 2……

So, for cardio basics, I say start out at a pace you could hold forever in smaller chunks e.g. cycling – going to cycle at a leisurely speed for 20 minutes, we may feel like we had more in the tank when we get back, this is good, you’ll be wanting to do the next one and your bum will thank you for not pushing it so far!

The key is to increase slowly, allow all of the other parts of the chain to catch up. You’ll find that progress will ramp up, pace will improve – even when sticking to the ‘forever pace’ as our body adapts.

Quick last point, before you fall asleep reading this – spare a thought for other activities that improve our aerobic base:

Battle ropes – longer and slower sets to build up strength and endurance.
Ball slams – lighter ball for more reps, you can even include this with other bits on this list
Skipping – starting in smaller sets, can be built up and incorporated into many workouts
Boxing – class based (boxercise) or a bag/training tree if you prefer something that doesn’t fight back!
Resistance training – much lighter weight for a larger number of reps or carrying objects, think balls, sandbags, kettlebells

Not exhaustive, just enough to give you an idea that we can incorporate many training types into cardio, as always much depends on how we look to program the activity, especially when keeping to overall goal at the centre of our planning.

If you would like some help, hints or tips with cardio programming or need a hand with refreshing your current plan, speak to one of Team SF – email info@spikefitness.co.uk or call 07597215652

Organising and programming your weekly intake.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at counting calories, creating a deficit and staying on track. Being prepared takes can help us to stay on track and making good choices throughout the week.

There are so many little adjustments that could be made, covering everything would take a small novel and lots of reading!

Let’s look at a few examples instead, after all, we know ourselves the best. Hopefully, one of the examples resonates with you, if not speak to a member of team SF, and we’ll be able to find something to help you out!

First off, we need to find a way to regulate our intake, again many, many ways to achieve this, couple of examples below:

MonTueWedThuFriSatSunTotal
Strict Cycle165016501650165016501650165011550
Training Cycle175016001750160017501600160011650
Weekend Cycle160016001600160016002000160011600

Strict – same calories everyday, important to remember here that we aren’t saying everyday has to be the same meals, just the overall intake. This works well for peeps that like a rigid structure and who may don’t fair so well when given a little more leeway…..

Training cycle – Calories are higher on training days, straight forward here. We need to balance this out, so the off days are slightly lower, also we can run the inverse of this and have a few more calories on our rest days to help recovery.

Weekend cycle – works well for the busier social life or if we find staying on track during the office week easier, specifically easier when we only take the necessary food to work. We can let our hair down at the weekend a bit and still enjoy a bit of social time.

The key point here is if we go massively off track when we are tracking, either we have created too much of a deficit or the structure isn’t working for us. If finding the right solution is proving difficult, a good starting point is to start with protein, hit your protein goal first, then work backwards from there.

Meal prep, how many times have we been in the situation of..

‘What shall I have for lunch?’

Preparing food in advance can help alleviate some of the higher calorie trips to the fridge or the meal deal aisle (not that all the options are bad!).

Once again, lots of different ways to go about this, in the end if we follow the yellow brick road it all ends in the same place.

It could be as simple as having healthy options in the fridge:

  • Salad items
  • Cooked meats (chicken, beef etc)
  • Pre-measured assortments of nuts/seeds
  • Mini meals
  • Ready-made smoothies
  • Protein yogurts – double check the macros though!

We could also look at having fully cooked meals ready to go, portioned out, so it’s super simple to grab one and know that fits into the day properly.

A weekly meal plan for the evenings can also help us, this can be used when we go shopping to ensure we aren’t trying to think about what to have, also try not to go shopping on an empty stomach, this rarely helps.

All of this requires a bit of planning, granted, however the time spent on this will help you to stay on track and save you time in making those decisions.

Going to end with a little question.

How many calories do you drink throughout the week, maybe pick just a few of your weekly drinks and look up the value…..

If you would like to go over your how you could plan and prepare your weekly intake, speak to a member of Team SF on info@spikefitness.co.uk

Creating a Calorie Deficit

Calorie or energy deficit is when we consume less than we burn, so for example if someone burns 2000 cals per day and they consume 1800 cals, they would be in a deficit.

Ways that we can create a calorie (energy) deficit:

  1. Eat less than we burn.
  2. Burn more calories than we consume.
  3. A mixture of the two above.

We’ve all heard that you can’t out train a bad diet, so whilst it is possible to increase our physical output to a point where we are burning more than we consume, this can lead to a number of issues such as injury, overtraining and severe fatigue.

The better option for the majority (everyone is different) is option 3 which is a mixture of both, understanding what we are eating and the makeup of this, combined with regular training will allow for a good balance.

Remember, we are not looking for shock and awe, just solid progress without hammering ourselves.

Time for an example!

Mr Xyz is currently eating about 2200 cals per day, walks around the office and that’s about it.

He has a daily calorie burn of 1900 cals, so, currently is in a surplus, zero need to go crazy, so we would look at about 1800 cals, look to introduce a lunchtime walk (15 mins rising to 30 after a few months) and 2 resistance sessions per week.

With this, we should lose around 1-2 lbs per month without any drama, this will of course fluctuate depending on how much muscle is gained vs bodyfat lost (remember overall mass doesn’t give the whole picture).

Mr Xyz isn’t being super restrictive, progress is slower, however, it is sustainable and therefore giving a higher chance of success.

The daily walks help to keep his energy use up, the resistance work helps to build and maintain muscle, and the small calorie deficit ensures we are burning more energy than we consume.

Things to note, firstly, our weight fluctuates based on a large number of factors, such as hydration levels. 1ml is 1g so if you drink a litre of water then weigh yourself you will be heavier!

Your muscles need to repair after working out, to do this they need glycogen, to save getting too professor here, glycogen binds to water to the tune of (approximately) 2.7 grams per 1 gram of glycogen. This is a temporary affair, allows for good repair (and continued progress) and will even out after a few weeks.

Our hormones play a big role in weight, these can cause us to retain more water, not release glucose and many others, all I’m trying to get at here, is that sometimes we may ‘stall’ despite everything being on track! – keep going, likelihood is that our bodies are adjusting and getting ready for the next stage.

If you would like some more information on creating a calorie deficit, speak to a member of team SF on info@spikefitness.co.uk

Calorie Counting

Here we go, I await the division!

Calorie counting has over the years, got a bit of a bad rep, understandable, as there is an awful lot of information, calculators and apps available – all promising the new great success in body transformation.

Let’s get real for a moment, most measuring tools can lead to negative behaviours. This could be the scales, how much we can lift, how fast we run a km and so on.

You see, the way in which tracking works, is by showing us how we can improve, naturally, we then look for a linear improvement and here is where things can get a little rough.

Let’s say we start deadlifting, and our lift goes up by 30kg from 70kg in the first 4 weeks, with some training, form guidance and getting used to the lift. This is awesome, and you would (and should) be proud.

So, following a linear path, by the end of the year we should be lifting north of 400 kg? Another 11 months, 30 kg added per month, quick maths 100 kg + 30 kg x 11 months is 430 kg!!!

An extreme example granted but I needed to get the point across.

When we look at calories, we tend to do a similar thing, I dropped X calories and in the first 4 weeks lost 6lbs, in the following 4 weeks I ‘only’ dropped 3lbs, so I must need to do something with my calories because, well because right?

Counting calories is a useful tool to help us better understand what’s going on in our daily eating habits, the most important part is that we use this information to make better choices and create and healthy relationship with food.

It always surprises me when clients ask about calories and I hear the number that they have been given by an app and think that is frankly very low!

We have a little chat, I convince them to raise it up, if you had a read of last weeks article 80% vs 100% is where this fits, we roll on a few weeks, and they are saying they look better, and the weight is going down.

Being honest here, I care less about the weight in KG (we still high five about the weight loss though!) and more that they are feeling better about how they look.

So let’s think about how to go about counting calories, most of all we should be using this to record the foods we currently eat against our daily energy needs.

Things to concentrate on:

  • The values of foods
    • Protein
    • Carbs
    • Fats
  • Portion sizes
    • This is where we find that people can (usually) still enjoy themselves with a volume adjustment
    • Learning how much 28/56g of cheese really is *winky emoji*
  • Accepting the learning curve
    • We should use the first few weeks to learn, some days we might go over our target, some days under
    • Do we need to eat a little more on training days
    • Should we cycle calories (high/low days or slightly lower mon-fri) to allow for some treats at the weekend
  • Look at how we can prioritise protein in our diets
    • It’s good for repair
    • Helps to keep you feeling satiated (fuller)

There are lots of mythologies about, this is not a one size fits all. Calorie counting should help us to reach our goals not create internal conflict or the dread of recording.

If you would like help with understanding how to calculate your daily intake/expenditure, contact one of the SF team on info@spikefitness.co.uk

Staying on track at the weekends

Ah the weekends, time to relax, unwind and enjoy time with family and friends – surely something we should be looking forward too…

This can also mean staying on track is, well, frankly damn hard!

We prep and plan our week out, fight the urge for office snacks and even swerve the treats, all to be in a limbo on the weekend, see, when at work we can only have what we’ve brought in which physiologically has us sorted.

When we unwind on a Friday night, with everything in reach, a small snack can turn into a bacon roll for the morning and this continues, all whilst making us feel guilty about it, which in itself leads to a bit of a food downward spiral.

So, what to do – the age-old question!

Let’s take a look at some tactics we could employ, now, first and foremost, we need to unwind and enjoy the weekend, and with that let’s think about the longevity of staying on track.

You are more likely to succeed if you are on point 80% of the time than 100%, will the result be a little slower? Sure, will it allow you to be more comfortable, enjoy yourself and still be able to be social – absolutely.

I’ll chuck some maths in here – please note this is a perfect linear example, our bodies don’t work like this, but it’ll highlight the point I’m trying to get across.

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4lbs Lost
100%35003500350035004
80%28002800280028003.2

*3500 cals lost  = 1lbs of fat (approximately)

So 100% person stays on point all the time, even on weekends, whatever that takes loses 1 lbs per week, now with this, there is zero room for manoeuvre – how enjoyable and more importantly sustainable is this?

Going to drop in here that for some people, routine is key and in that case the 100% works and that’s great, with an adaptive change to maintenance calories once their goals are achieved.

For others, we need flexibility within the plan to allow for other engagements that pop up from time to time.

Person 80% has some weekend leeway, 700 cals in this example, so got a meal to go to, lunch out with friends maybe some ice cream. Does this sound more enjoyable and sustainable?

Even with the 80% rule, we still need to make sure we have some tactics in place to help out over the weekend.

  1. Plan ahead, not your entire weekend, we’re supposed to be resting! – I’m thinking more along the lines of having a solid breakfast before going out, we will be less likely to need a snack to keep us going…
  2. Social reconnaissance, going out with friends for food, scope out the menu in advance, this way you can make your choice, have it agreed with yourself and not be trying to work out the calories whilst you should be enjoying yourself.
  3. Active time, there are so many examples of this, especially now the weather is getting better (double crosses fingers and toes – don’t blame me if it gets worse!!)
    1. So we could walk to the venue or walk part way if it’s a little far to walk, now all walking is good – we don’t need an Olympic power walk here.
    2. Plan activities that aren’t sedentary, so could you catch up over a walk in the park, maybe visit some different locations – museums, coffee on the beach etc.
  4. Schedule a light workout, we all feel better after the workout (maybe not during…) it doesn’t have to be anything mega big, just enough to feel good and when we feel good we make better food choices, that and the fact we’ve worked out makes us not want to waste the effort we put in!!
  5. No labelling, everything is OK in moderation, as they say. The thing is that we tend to put foods in a good and bad column which in turn leads to the ‘ah screw it, I’ve had some now’ moments – I prefer to look at my foods as these are all the super things I like to eat and some portion sizes are bigger (proteins) than others (fats) so if we want a bit of ice cream (can you tell I like ice cream yet?) then we can have it, just maybe not a tub at a time.

I guess the key here is to create a healthy relationship with food, sure that sounds all lovey dovey, but the reality is that once we learn how to balance our intakes without having to be super restrictive the better and faster the results will come.

Compound Lifts

The big ones, the old school ones and the ultimate measure of strength!

Before we get carried away with how much we can lift, how about we focus for a bit on the actual movements and mechanics of these?

Normally we would look at squat, bench and deadlift as the big 3, followed closely by military press and pull-ups.

Moving weight in these movements requires way more than one muscle group working together or simply put they are multijoint movements.

The more muscle we recruit during a movement, the more we release hormones, we need these hormones to develop. So compound (or multijoint) movements are key.

Now, having said that, we don’t need to run off to the barbell or pull-up station straight away!

As we covered last week, we need to build the correct shapes and movements – our technique, so starting off with an aim to get everything feeling fluid during the movement is important.

Let’s take a look at the three main movements, along with some alternatives that can be used as well.

Barbell Squat

Everyone loves a squat right?!?!

  1. Set the bar height to just below the top of your shoulder – this allows us to lift the bar out of the hooks.
  2. Tuck ourselves under the bar with it resting on our traps – be careful to not have it too high up and on your neck.
  3. Grip the bar whilst pulling your elbows towards your body – this helps keep the bar tight and controlled.
  4. Lift the bar up and out of the hooks, step backwards into your squat stance – position your feet as needed.
  5. Take a breath and keep your upper body ‘tight’, descend with the bar keeping our upper body as straight as possible – we want the bar path to be straight up and down with as little forward/backward motion as possible.
  6. Once we have reached parallel, push, we push through our heels, driving the weight back to our starting position.

Alternatives – Air squat, Kettlebell squat, Bulgarian split squat

Barbell Bench press

Load up the bar!!

  1. Set the bar slightly lower than your arms are at full extension.
  2. Lie down on a flat bench. Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width – we are looking for a 90-degree angle when we pass through the middle of the descent, start with the bar and find the right position for your grip.
  3. Make sure your feet are firm and good tension is created through your body.
  4. Lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked.
  5. Take a breath and begin coming down slowly until the bar touches your middle chest.
  6. Pause briefly, push the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out.
  7. Focus on pushing the bar using your chest.
  8. Hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again for the next rep
  9. Once complete, re-rack the bar.

Tip: Ideally, lowering the weight should take about twice as long as raising it.

Alternatives – DB bench press, cable chest press, plate press

Deadlift

King of the lifts!!

  1. Ideally we should use Olympic plates (45cm ones, to ensure the bar height is constant)
  2. Walk up to the bar and have it inline with Metatarsophalangeal joint (MCP) or for today Foot knuckles.
  3. Standing with our feet hip-width apart. Bend down from the hip and grip the bar at shoulder-width with your arms just outside your legs, pull your shoulders together.
  4. Take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex your knees forward until your shins contact the bar.
  5. Look forward with chest up and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward.
  6. After the bar passes the knees, lock the movement out in the standing position.
  7. Lower the bar by bending at the hips and knees, making it the reverse of the movement you have just performed.

Alternatives – Kettlebell deadlift, stiff leg deadlift, sumo deadlift.

For more information, or help with writing and programming your compound lifts, contact a member of Team SF today!

Resistance training – A quick start guide

So we’ve looked at the benefits of resistance training, knocked a few myths down and we’re ready to start out.

Big breath needed, lots of different weights, machines, attachments and bands – where do we start??

Easy is the answer, as with all skills we learn in life, resistance training is no different. That is, we need to learn how to move correctly and how to make the right shapes, this will take our body a little time to get used to.

I’m sure you’ll have a whole load of questions, so let’s aim to cover as many as possible by creating an 8-week plan together below:

Excuse the suck eggs bit, however, we need to start from the top.

Warm up, we need to get blood around our body for the work we are about to undertake, ideally this should be ‘full body’ so something like the cross trainer or rower is always a good starting point.

We’ll be able to get our heart rate up and move all of our joints. Aim for 5-10 minutes, remember, this is your warm-up, so getting our heart rate up is going to be different for everyone.

Start by working major muscle groups, so let’s think about 2 exercises for each of the major muscle groups and then move onto the smaller ones.

  1. Leg Press
  2. Kettlebell squats
  3. Pull downs
  4. Rows
  5. Chest Press (barbell, dumbbell, plate)
  6. Shoulders
  7. Arms (Biceps and Triceps)

Quick pit stop, why the major ones first?

This is because they are multijoint movements, this gives us a bit more bang for our buck.

We want to train the larger groups first as they incorporate the smaller ones. We then train the smaller ones toward the end, once we have worked the larger groups.

How many sets/reps, and how fast/slow should I go?

OK, so there is going to be so many different approaches to this and to keep our plan straight forward we are going to keep the reps the same and increase the sets to start out with.

The main key is to learn the techniques, then improve our performance over the length of the plan.

We are going to perform a warm-up, then 2 working sets of 15 with a moderate weight. For the first few sessions, we just need to focus on the technique and if the weight needs to be increased the following session, so be it!

A quick indicator of the correct weight would be that the last 2 reps are tough, but you can keep correct form.

Once we have got ourselves comfortable and our technique is looking sharp (better than the first workout at least) we can look to progress the plan.

This is where we can look to add a third set of each exercise, alternatively, increase the weight slightly as our technique improves.

After this, we can look at different variations of the movements, using different weights during the set, as in starting with one weight, then increasing it in the next sets. Again, there are many ways and none are either right or wrong.

So with all of this in mind and taking in to consideration that we also need to rest – think about full body having a rest day between each workout, let’s see what it looks like:

ExerciseWeek 1 & 2Week 3 – 6Week 7 onwards
Warm-up10 mins10 mins10 mins
Leg Press2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps slightly heavier3 x 15 – increased effort Set 1 – 70% Set 2 – 80% Set 3 – 90%
Kettlebell squats2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps
Pull downs2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps slightly heavier3 x 10 reps slightly heavier
Rows2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps
Chest Press dumbbells2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps slightly heavier3 sets – 12, 10, 8 increasing weight each set
Chest Press cable machine2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps
Shoulders2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps
Biceps2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps
Triceps2 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps3 x 15 reps

So, I’ve taken some liberties on week 7 onwards, as mentioned there are lots of routes, including sticking with 3×15 if that is working and feels good! – remember, there is no one size fits all here.

Once we’ve finished, we should undertake a cooldown, and stretch off.

So, we’ve created a nice workout to get us feeling comfortable in the gym and started on our resistance training journey.

If you would like some help creating yours and understanding more about how best to workout for yourself – pop us an email info@spikefitness.co.uk