You might know the feeling of walking into the gym and not really knowing what you should train that day or which exercises to do. So you kind of just make things up as you go, or just do the same exercises as you always do. It saves you having to come up with something new. I used to do this.
And yes, I'm going to start by saying there's nothing wrong with that. ANY workout is a good workout (because any type of exercise is good for you), but there are definitely ways to make your workouts even more efficient. It's things I do myself as a personal trainer, and I have introduced to majority of my clients
If you follow these 6 tips, you'll start feeling stronger and fitter after every. single. workout. And who doesn't want that? I know I do 👇🏼
Let's get into it!
#1 Structure your workout split
One thing I find super helpful, is to always do the same style of workouts on the same days each week. Not only does it make it easier getting into a routine, but it also ensures that I can structure my workout split properly.
Your workout split is how you choose to split your workouts into different muscle groups, for example lower body, uper body or full body. How you should structure your workout split, depends on how many times per week you workout, as well as what your fitness goal is. The best thing is to make sure you train each muscle group twice per week. So for me, I do lower body on Mondays & Thursdays, and upper body on Tuesdays & Fridays. I've explained more about workout splits in tip #3 in this article
💡 Tip: Have set days every week you dedicate to strength training. Structure your workouts so you train each muscle group twice per week.
#2 Mobility before your workouts
Before strength workouts it's important to warm up both the muscles and joints. This helps avoid injury and helps get you into the "headspace" of working out.
A classic way to warm up the muscles is by doing 3-10 mins of cardio, but an even better way to also warm up the joints, is to do some mobility exercises. It's kind of like stretching, but is more dynamic movements you move around in.
💡 Tip: Before your workout, do 2-3 mobility exercises for the muscle group you are about to train.
#3 Start with compound exercises
Compound exercises are some of the most efficient exercises, because they engage multiple muscle groups at once. A few examples are squats, deadlifts, lunges, chest press, pushups and pull ups.
These are typically the exercises you are strongest in and can lift the heaviest weights in, because you have more muscles in your body helping you. That's why it's best to put them in the beginning of the workout when your body has plenty of energy.
💡 Tip: Aim to do 2-4 compound exercises in the beginning of your workout when you have the most energy. Do 8-10 reps of each exercise
#4 Finish with accessory exercises
Accessory exercises are great when your body is tired, but you still want to push it that little bit extra. They are called accessory exercises because they only engage one muscle group at a time. Examples are bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises and leg extensions.
They are also good to include if there's a particular muscle group you want to focus on and build more than others. For example, you might want bigger biceps, toned shoulders or a more sculpted back.
In accessory exercises, it's best to lower the weight slightly, as it's only one muscle working at a time, and instead do more reps
💡 Tip: Add 2-4 accessory exercises throughout your workout or at the end of your workout. Lower the weights slightly on these and do 10-15 reps of each
#5 Don't forget your core exercises
You shouldn't skip core training. I know they are easy to overlook because you just want to head home after a workout, but a strong core will help you in all other exercises as you start lifting heavier. Core exercises will of course also help build sculpted abs .
You don't have to do ab exercises after every single workout, but try to at least do it twice per week.
💡 Tip: Dedicate 5-10 mins at the end of your workout for core exercises. They are best to do when your body is tired.
#6 Add cardio after your workouts (or on separate days)
Okay, so you've just finished a good and sweaty strength workout. Your muscles are tired. Now is the time to just sweat off and finish with some low intensity cardio. You of course don't have to do cardio, but if you want to add cardio to your routine (if you're on a fat loss journey), it's best to do after your workouts or on separate days.
Examples of cardio can be going for a run, a brisk walk or stepping up on a cardio machine.
Depending on your fitness goal, do 10-30 mins of low intensity cardio after your workots or on separate days from your workouts.
Why not do it it before your workouts? Because then you'll spend all your energy on cardio and not have any left for the workout itself. And going into a strength workout with a tired body isn't the most efficient.
Conclusion: how to structure your gym workouts to build muscle
Okay so, let's conclude. If you want to optimise your workouts to build muscle, here are 6 proven strategies:
As a personal trainer, I'm ready to help you reach your fitness goals. Hopefully this article helped give you a little push in the right direction, but if you feel like you need more support, accountability and personalised guidance, I highly recommend starting online coaching
You deserve the best for yourself, and I'm here to make sure you achieve this in a healthy and realistic way. Sign up for Online Coaching with me below 👇🏼