Progressing your workouts

Take your next steps progressing your workouts.

In my earlier post I had given a sample workout plan for a beginner. This post assumes that the beginner has been consistent and has completed three months of workout with at least 4 days a week at the gym.

What happens at this stage is that the untrained body has now been able to activate neural circuits and motor units and orchestrate the muscles efficiently to take on the the exercises thrown at it during the first three months. This would mean that the individual now has sufficient all round fitness to take the next steps towards building strength.

Strength comes from working out with weights that you can rep six times or less where the last set should be difficult. This would translate to moving from 12 Reps of say bicep curls with 10 pounds to 6 reps of bicep curls with 15 pounds. There are two options at this stage, you could go cold turkey and escalate your workouts as described above or alternatively, you could change your rep sets in a manner that I call descending pyramid.

In the descending pyramid, you could do 4 sets instead of 3; first set with the current weight with 12 reps; second set current weight with 10 reps; third set current weight with 8 reps and the final set (strength building set) with 6 reps of incremental weight to challenge your muscles. You will need someone to spot you or assist you for the last set. In my books, if your last two reps of the last set is difficult to complete, then you have succeeded in picking the right weights for strength gain.

You can repeat this for a couple of sessions and you will feel that the last set is not as difficult now. That is when you increase the weight from the 3 set onward and then the 2nd set. Once you reach this stage, you can conclude that you have build strength for the 15 pound rep and can start the first set with 15 pounds and increase 5 pounds in the 4th set. This kind of sequencing gives you a gentle push in terms of incremental strength.

The second three months of working out for a beginner should focus on repeating the same full body exercises but with what I call the pyramid method of workout described above so that strength building can help lay a solid foundation for further progress.

The next step after this would require a different kind of workout schedule. This would involve split routines and super sets. In my subsequent posts, I will discuss what a split routine is and what are super sets. We will also talk about why we need them and how they fit into the overall progression. Meanwhile, here is what the recommended workout schedule would look like for alternate days, 4 days a week.

Day 1:

20 minutes of Cardio on Treadmill. Aim is to increase heart rate (we spoke about this in an earlier post) and complete warm up

  1. Dumbbell bicep curls.  Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Hammer curl. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    2. Alternate day: Zotman curl. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    3. Alternate day: Preacher curl. 12 Reps; 3 sets
  2. Lateral raise. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Military press/ Shoulder press with dumbbells. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    2. Alternate day: Arnold curls. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    3. Alternate day: Barbell front raise. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  3. Reverse fly. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Seated rows. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    2. Alternate day: Lateral Raise. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    3. Alternate day: Bentover, underhand barbell row. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  4. Dumbbell chest press – flat – Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Dumbbell Chest press – Incline – Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    2. Alternate day: Dumbbell chest press – Decline – Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    3. Alternate day: Dumbbell Fly – flat – Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  5. Stretches:
    1. Bicep wall stretch – stretches both biceps and chest muscles. hold position until count of 10.
    2. Shoulder stretch – hold position until count of 10

Day 2:

20 minutes of Cardio on Treadmill. Aim is to increase heart rate (we spoke about this in an earlier post) and complete warm up

  1. Leg press. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Dumbbell goblet squat. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  2. Lunges. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Leg curls on machine. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  3. Leg extension on machine. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
    1. Alternate day: Hack Squat. Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  4. Plank ; 3 sets
    1. Alternate day: Bottoms up – Descending pyramid with challenging increment on the 4th set ; 4 sets
  5. Hyper extension of back with machine
    1. Alternate day: Superman – 12 Reps; 3 sets
  6. Stretches
    1. Quad stretch. Hold to count of 10
    2. Twisting glute stretch: Hold to count of 10
    3. Cat Stretch: Hold to count of 10

Elevate, Continue,Athletic

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