Building the Training Session
by Wes Pomarensky, BA Kin, CSEP-CEP
A well organized training session at the gym is helpful for paving the road to success. The best intentions can be undone without a plan, so below we’ve listed the structure of a typical training session. If your day at the gym resembles what we have below, chances are you are going to have a solid day of work! As always, if you have any questions about your exercise plan and how it relates to your goals, don’t hesitate to contact your coach for helpful advice.
The warmup should accomplish a few different goals. The most obvious is to “get loose”; increase body temperature, get the body warm and heart rate up a bit. There are many effective ways to achieve this goal. Renowned fitness expert Alwyn Cosgrove refers to the warmup as a RAMP protocol – range of motion, activate and movement prep. In essence, we want to decrease unwanted stiffness, activate the muscles we want to use, and go through some dynamic exercises that challenge the body in different planes of motion and complexity. Additionally, some trainers like to add in some core work here near the end of the warmup, as proper core activation and stiffness is involved in almost every exercise in the next section.
Often forgotten, training for power is a great way to get a lot of the muscle fibers activated. Research shows that fast twitch muscle fibers, which are extremely important to maintain in the aging process, are activated in one of two ways – either lifting against heavy resistance, or lifting lighter resistance as fast as possible. Light implements moved quickly are a very simple, low risk way to train power.
- Main Portion
A dull name, but this is where all different types of strategies and exercises come into play. If the goal is more for maximal strength, exercises will be in the lower rep range but with perhaps more sets, commonly done anywhere from 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps. If the goal is building muscle, a little bit higher volume (reps x sets) will be done, typically 2-3 sets in the 8-12 rep range. Countless strategies can be used here, but use of compound exercises is most likely involved – you should be doing some solid pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging, carrying and other full body movements in this section
- Metabolic Conditioning
Where the heart rate gets pushed! Depending on the individual, their training age, their goals and their abilities, the MetCon can include exercises with weights, bodyweight or even focus mostly on cardiovascular work. In any case, this is typically the most challenging part of the workout from a breathing point of view.
- Cool down/Stretch
As simple as the name implies. Some static stretching of key areas that were worked can decrease some of the associated soreness that may occur over the next day or two. Recovery breathing to help lower the heart rate and blood pressure is often used in conjunction with stretching