The Only 4 Training Tips You'll Ever Really Need

July 31, 2014

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Coaches, athletes and gym enthusiasts are bombarded with workout tips, the latest information on nutrition and supplementation and more. So it can be hard to decide where to start and in which direction to go.

Here are four essential workout tips to help you set goals, structure your training and stay motivated in the gym. If you're able to implement them in your training every single day, you'll never stop learning and growing.

1. Come up with a plan

State-of-the-art gyms can be overwhelming. If you're not focused, amenities like cardio cinema rooms, group fitness classes, boot camps, recreational sport leagues, personal training, tanning and other amenities add up to distraction.

Bottom line: You need to enter your workout with a plan of what you want to accomplish so you don't waste time walking aimlessly around the gym. Making the most of your time maximizes your gains and decreases the chances of missing workout sessions when your schedule changes or life gets in the way.

RELATED: How to Develop a Periodized Workout Plan

How do you make a workout plan? Below is an example of back-to-back workout days. I am always aware of the loads, volume and intensity from the previous day. I like to constantly change up my workouts, keep the session moving and challenge my entire body. I have found this to be a great way to keep intensity high and hit some great training sessions on back-to-back days.

Day 1

  • Foam Roll
  • Deadlift/Weighted Pull-Ups/AB Wheel - 3x8
  • RDL/Dumbbell Chest Press - 3x8
  • Weighted Dips/Heavy Straight Bar Curls - 3x10

The goal for this training session is to move weight with big compound movements. Rest time is 60-90 seconds as needed.

Day 2

  • Foam Roll
  • Single-Leg Squats/Supine Row - 3x15/Overhead Medicine Ball Slams x20 /Jump Rope x100
  • Single-Leg Stability Ball Leg Curls/Spider Push-Ups - 3x15/Medicine Ball Chest Passes x 20 /Box Jumps x 15
  • Side Plank w Row/Burpees - 3x15 / Interval Row Machine 3 x 500m with 30-second break

The goal for this training session is to keep moving. The exercises challenge multiple energy systems and are neurologically demanding. Intensity is high, rest time is low (just enough to recover for the next exercise or set), and you are not loading your body. Also, movements are in multiple planes for increased difficulty.

I will also train a third day in a row with mostly interval sprints, pool work, light bodyweight movements and different functional core exercises.

2. Set long- and short-term goals

Start with goals you can complete within a week. This will put you on the right path to achieving long-term goals. Be realistic. Keep in mind you are not setting yourself up for failure. Be honest with yourself, know your limitations and set attainable goals that challenge and motivate you. I am a very task-oriented person, so putting daily and weekly reminders into my phone works well. It helps keep me on track. I don't have to stress about remembering tasks, and it is very motivating and gratifying to cross things off my list.

RELATED: Set Realistic Goals and Create a Plan to Achieve Them

3. Keep it Fresh

Establishing goals and sticking to a plan is hard work. It is easy to fall into a routine that eventually becomes boring. And boring is not conducive to reaching goals and making progress.

So mix it up.

Instead of running sprints on the track, do football touchdown passes one day a week. If you have cardio scheduled, try hitting the soccer field with friends. Instead of regular Push-Ups, try Medicine Ball Push-Ups, Box Jumps and Medicine Ball Slams. You will be amazed how fast the time flies and how much more you get out of that training session. Take another look at my sample workouts above for more suggestions.

RELATED: Restructure Your Workouts for Fun and Motivation

4. Ask Questions

It's important to choose the right mentors: people with a good mix of experience, a strong physical educational background and consistent and positive client/athlete outcomes. Take the time to review credentials and study what they mean in the industry. I consistently receive emails and messages about training, performance enhancement, nutrition and rehabilitation. I always give as much guidance and information as possible, but I also remind the patient/athlete that the information is based on my philosophy and opinion. Although a great deal of information and advice comes from evidence-based practice, I also have my athlete/patient outcomes from experience. So please keep in mind that the answers you receive are not set in stone and the only way to achieve your goals.

- Stephen C. Gamma, MS, ATC, CSCS, holds a Master of Science in Athletic Training program at the University of Idaho. He is a Certified Strength...
- Stephen C. Gamma, MS, ATC, CSCS, holds a Master of Science in Athletic Training program at the University of Idaho. He is a Certified Strength...
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