No one wants to spend any more time than they need to being active. Ideally you want to get in, know that you’re doing your best to get the results you want, get out and relax. This is why group training with an instructor is somewhat popular, it’s time capped, the instructor tells you that you’re working hard or that you need to work harder and you leave feeling all hot and sweaty.
The thing is with both sport and classes it’s a bit of a guessing game when it comes to producing results. It’s not really designed for your goals and that doesn’t end up being very time efficient on your end.
If you know how to train efficiently on your own, have confidence in knowing that what you’re doing is aligned with your goals, your results from fitness, strength and body composition will far exceed whatever you could have achieved by playing sport or attending group classes.
It will actually allow you to perform at those things better and you’ll enjoy it more.
Because when you train efficiently there’s no limitations on your output.
Here’s how to maximise your training time:
1. Track & Record Your Training Performance
The person walking around the gym with a sheet of paper writing down how much they’ve lifted for X amount of reps? They’re most likely getting results through a simple processed called progressive overload. Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon your body during training which after your body recovers from adapts to become fitter, faster and stronger.
Other benefits for tracking your performance:
- It saves you time – You don’t have to think about what weight you have to use because it’s all on paper. You simply work out how you can beat your previous weeks performance and that’s it.
- You don’t end up training any harder than you need to – An increase in weight of anywhere between 2.5-10kg depending on how experienced you are is fine. Any progression is good progression.
- It keeps you focused on training – When you’re a little bit outside of your comfort zone forcing your body perform better it forces you to focus on the task at hand. You’re not thinking about anything else because the thought of thinking about something else can cause you to miss a rep or get injured.
2. Work Backwards to Improve Your Personal Best on Any Lift
Play the long game rather than the short game if your main priority is to look good, feel good and perform even better. A quick way to burn out and halt progress is to explode out of the gates with your training and go at 100%. I get it, you want to be at your best as fast as possible but here’s a better strategy.
Say your Deadlift is 100kg’s and you want improve it by 10kg’s in your next 4-week program.
Most people would go:
- Week 1 – 110kg (Break PB in week 1)
- Week 2 – 115kg (Aim to beat new PB in week 2)
- Week 3 – 120kg (If they make it to the gym they’ll attempt this)
- Week 4 – Probably not training due to a lower back injury
A safer strategy:
- Week 1 – 80kg (Technique)
- Week 2 – 90kg (Increase intensity)
- Week 3 – 100kg (Train hard)
- Week 4 – 110kg (Train harder)
By applying the safer strategy you’re more likely in a month going to be able to attend more total training sessions and be more consistent. It’s the compounding effect in action, the more regularly you can train the better. You’re going to be the one making the greatest changes to your body composition in months and years to come because they’re still in the game. You’re still getting the same result as if you were training maximally every session, only now you’ll have more longevity with your overall health and fitness.
3. Create Better Mind to Muscle Connection
When stripping body fat you want your muscles to have either a firm athletic look about them or pop. If you’re training and lifting weight from A to B with no intention of feeling the muscle you’re not making the most of your workout.
Mind to muscle connection (MMC) is your brain signalling to your muscles telling them to contract. It’s easier said than done, first you want to feel the muscle and contract it hard (that’s why technique is important), then you can start training it hard.
Don’t make the mistake of training hard first and then having to relearn everything because you’re not feeling your muscles work. People who do Yoga and Pilates are very good with mind to muscle connection, the only thing is they don’t train hard enough with resistance to create that head turning body.
4. Training Split & Program That’s Tailored for Your Outcome
Ever thought about playing a casual sport with the intention of improving fitness, losing stubborn body fat or weight loss? Don’t, it’s time wasting. I love sport and the only reason why I would play sport is for fun, social and to win. To improve fitness, lose fat or weight? I would do something that specifically targets that outcome and that’s more than likely going to involve a program that’s designed for your current fitness level and body composition.
One quick reason why is body type:
- Endomorph – more suited to higher reps 15-20 reps
- Mesomorph – suited to moderate reps 10-15 reps
- Ectomorph – can do both low and moderate reps 5-15
Playing sport? That’s a total guessing game for body composition goals and you’re not training your muscles directly to both deplete glycogen, improve your weaknesses and fitness.
“If it’s not measurable, it’s not managed”.
- Monday – Upper
- Tuesday – AM Lower / PM Sport
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – Upper
- Friday – Lower
- Saturday – Cardio & Abs
- Sunday – Rest
What I would recommend is to get onto your own training program that challenges you and is aligned with your goals. Have sport as a recreational activity where you can have fun with it and so you can focus 100% on the actual skills of the game and get really good.
5. Train With Intent to Produce the Right Outcome
Whether you’re aware of it all not when you’re exercising and training you’re working a specific energy systems which are going to produce different outcomes to your result. For e.g. when you’re playing AFL you’re transitioning through all 3 energy systems.
- ATP: 10-15 seconds (Short and sharp sprints)
- Anaerobic/Lactic Acid: 45-75 Seconds (Longer sprints)
- Aerobic: 120 seconds + (Jogs)
If you’re an AFL player it’s beneficial for you to train all 3 energy systems.
If your goal is initial fat loss and weight loss however it’s going to be more beneficial to structure your training solely to push through lactic acid and get better at training in that energy system. Your lactic acid system uses glycogen as energy which is what you want if your initial goal is fat loss and weight loss.
As you get more advanced a variety in all 3 is best as phases of absolute strength and explosive power will help you to be able to push your lactic acid training to new levels as you’re applying more strength to it.
E.g. Full Body Program
- A1: Back Squat: 10-12 Reps 4010 tempo (50 to 60 seconds tension)
- A2: Lat Pull Down – Pronated: 10-12 Reps 4010 tempo (50 to 60 seconds tension)
- B1: Incline DB Press: 12-15 Reps 3010 tempo (48 to 60 seconds tension)
- B2: Lying Leg Curl: 12-15 Reps 3010 tempo (48 to 60 seconds tension)
- C1: Machine Leg Press: 15-20 Reps 3010 tempo (60 to 80 seconds tension)
- C2: Seated Rope Row to Nose: 12-15 Reps 3010 tempo (48 to 60 seconds tension)
If you’re training a program similar to this your intent throughout the whole program is push through as much lactic acid as possible (the burning sensation) whilst keeping tension on your muscles.
If you had a mixture between a strength program and fat loss program your intent would change depending on the exercise of your program.
- A1: Back Squat: 5 Reps 30X0 tempo (15 seconds tension – strength)
- A2: Bench Press: 5 Reps 30X0 tempo (15 seconds tension – strength)
- B1: Walking Lunges: 10-12 Reps 4010 tempo (50 to 60 seconds – fat loss)
- B2: Seated DB Shoulder Press: 10-12 Reps 4010 tempo (50 to 60 – fat loss)
If you’re not currently on a training program you can still apply the knowledge of energy systems to your workouts to produce your desired outcome. For e.g. if you’re playing casual sport and you want to lose weight, choose to play in centre midfield where you’re forced to do more longer runs rather than hanging in defence or forward.