Strategy

Structuring Training Sessions

Think of each training session as 4 parts:

Part 1: Warm up. Priming your body for action, going from general movement to specific to what you’re doing that day. The warm up is also a great time to practice technique and move your body in different ways.

Part 2: Strength training. Hitting sets of your prescribed strength training exercises.

Part 3: Conditioning. Getting your heart rate up and burning some calories. Conditioning is necessary for you to stay as fit and healthy as possible. Conditioning can be running, biking, walking, some sort of MetCon, etc.

Note: I use conditioning and the more traditional “cardio” interchangeably.

Part 4: Cool down. Allowing your heart rate come down safely and doing some flexibility and mobility stuff.

Note: the warm up and cool down are optional for very light conditioning sessions, like light biking or walking.

Now, if you do your strength training and conditioning separate it’ll obviously look a little different, as parts 2 and 3 will be done at different times of the day, but the jist of it remains the same.

Important: don’t skip the warm up or the cool down. Both are important, and if you don’t have time to warm up or cool down then you don’t have time to work out!

Now you may ask if you can do your conditioning first and your strength training second. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Strength training requires you to be “fresh”, that is not unduly fatigued. Fatigue will affect your performance, leading to sub-optimal adaptation. It might also lead you to deviate from desired technique, increasing injury risk.

So warm up, strength train, do your conditioning, and cool down. That’s the outline for a successful training session.

The Enjoyment Factor

Yes, you should have clear-cut goals. Yes, most everything you do should have a purpose. And yes, you have to get serious to get anywhere.

But don’t forget to also make your training fun and enjoyable.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

I have a blast almost every time I train, and if I didn’t I probably wouldn’t do it.

The key is finding ways to make it fun and enjoyable while still getting to where you want to go.

Where Should You Train?

First off, there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution as to where to train.

One might find that a home gym works best for them. Another might find a commercial gym best. Yet another might find a combo of the two is the way to go (I’m in this camp. I train ~90% at home and ~10% at a gym, and it works for me).

It’s an individual thing, and you’ll need to take a look deep inside and ask yourself questions such as:

  • Where would I be comfortable training?
  • Where can I train the way I want to train?
  • Where would I find the greatest enjoyment?
  • Where would I be the most consistent?
  • Where can I listen to my early 2000’s Screamo and not get judged?

Really think about this.

Progress will take months (and years!) of consistent effort. You’re going to be spending a lot of time training in your chosen environment, so you must make it convenient, fun, and enjoyable.

Therefore you must go where you can train in accordance with your own nature.

If you have any big hang ups about commercial gyms, joining one probably won’t work.

Likewise, if you’re bored to death working out by yourself, you probably shouldn’t build a home gym.

Here’s a list of pros and cons (I know, who doesn’t love pros and cons?):

Pros for the gym:

  • Gyms can provide good atmosphere and energy (they can, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily will).
  • There’s a social aspect.
  • There can be a camaraderie among members (all working to achieve a common goal).
  • Gyms have amenities such as a pool, a sauna, etc.

Cons for the gym:

  • You’ll have to pay gym dues.
  • Gyms can get crowded (at peak times).
  • Gym can be bastions for microbes.
  • There’ll be a commute (time).
  • You’ll have to get all dressed up.
  • Naked people in locker rooms.

Pros for training at home:

  • It’ll never get crowded.
  • There’s only a one-time upfront cost of equipment.
  • You can scream, grunt, and do all of the socially unacceptable things you want.
  • It’s very time-efficient and convenient (this one is huge).
  • You can wear whatever you like.
  • There’s no commute time.

Cons for training at home:

  • You’ll have to provide your own energy and motivation.
  • There’s no social aspect.
  • There’s the aforementioned upfront cost.
  • Equipment takes up space.
  • You can get easily distracted if you’re not careful.

So what do I recommend?

Any and all.

Look, you should do everything you can anywhere you can.

If that means training at the gym 4-5 days a week, so be it.

If that means training at home 4-5 days a week, so be it.

If that means training at the gym 2 days and training at home 3 days a week so be it.

There’s no one right way to do it.

So at the gym, at home…doesn’t matter.

What really matters is that you actually train and make progress.

So find what works for you and put in the work.

Strict Adherence to Programs

Unless you’re a professional athlete (or a very serious amateur athlete), life is too unpredictable for strict adherence to programs.

Sure, you can write out the greatest training and nutrition program in the world, but what does it matter if you can’t even adhere to it? (or worse, never even start it!)

A program is just words on paper.

Life is dynamic and fluid and always changing.

And yes, even I have to be a little flexible with my programming and move things around every once and a while.

So what do I suggest doing?

Becoming more flexible and adaptable.

Now, this isn’t a license to do anything you want. You should still have some kind of routine and ways to measure progress.

BUT…

You shouldn’t need everything to be “perfect” or even ideal to be consistent.

This means things like:

  • Getting some home-gym equipment for those times you can’t get to a gym (if you don’t train at home to begin with).
  • Going to a gym that’s close.
  • Learning bodyweight movements for bodyweight training.
  • Finding ways to do quick, effective conditioning.
  • Meal prepping.
  • Finding healthy “fast” food options.

And so on.

Learn to roll with the punches…and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the strongest version of yourself.