How to get the most out of your gym training

How to get the most out of your gym training

How to get the most out of your gym training

Having worked as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach, I have plenty of insight into how to get the most out of your gym sessions and how to avoid injury where possible.

So, what are the key ingredients to an effective and safe exercise program?!

1)     Compound exercises:

  • Compound exercises work multiple joints and muscles within the one exercise/movement and generally mimic day to day movements better than isolation exercises
  • They are more time efficient and  burn more energy than isolation exercises
  • Because compound exercises recruit more muscles they generally promote greater muscle balance than isolation exercises (when part of a balanced program)
  • An example of a compound exercise for the legs is a squat compared to a knee extension which is an isolation exercise

2)     Planned rest:

This is a big one … rest is just as important (if not more important) as doing the exercise itself. Adequate rest is needed to restore energy so that the next set/repetition can be performed safely and effectively. Not allowing for enough rest will likely result in reduced performance and may predispose to injury.

Rest times:

  • Power and strength = ~2-3 minutes
  • Endurance  = ~30 seconds

3)     An individualised program:

  • To get the most out of exercise you should have a set, individualised program, designed for you specifically. What works for someone else does not mean it will work for you
  • Based off personal experience, the best way to progress in a safe way is to record your results (reps, sets, weight etc) on a sheet of paper
  • A set program should include:
    • What exercises to do
    • How many sets, reps (rep range), weight, rest etc
    • Exercise order is another important consideration, generally more complex movements that target larger muscles should be completed first

4)     Warm up and cool down:

  • A set warm up and cool down should be part of every ones exercise routine
  • A warm up should include light aerobic exercise for around 10 minutes followed by some dynamic stretching (like what swimmers/runners do before a race)
  • A cool down should once again include light aerobic exercise and static stretching
    • Light aerobic exercise helps to clear any lactic acid that has accumulated and allows the muscle to recover
    • Stretches should last for at least 30 seconds

This is of course generalised advice and may need to be changed accordingly based on your circumstances. If there are any questions regarding this information please feel free to ask myself or one of the other physios in the practice.

by Tate Seckold