Ever walk into the gym and not know what you’re going to do? There are so many options – so many shiny machines, so many benches angled in weird ways and SO MANY people. It’s easy to be intimidated when you don’t have a plan. Before entering the gym, it is imperative to have a plan. Even if it is just a rough skeleton of a plan, at least you will know which exercise you’re going to do first, what you’ll do after that and so on.
So without further ado, I present my full-body template that I use with most of my clients. After years of using this template with myself and my clients, I believe it is a foolproof formula.
1. Start with a squat or deadlift variation
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the barbell back squat or the barbell deadlift. You can use any variation of the squat or deadlift. Whether that is a goblet squat with a dumbell, a box squat or a kettlebell deadlift. The squat and the deadlift are the biggest compound exercises in the game – this means that this will fire up your nervous system for the rest of the workout.
Perform 3-4 sets x 5-12 reps (this is a big range, I know)
2. Pick an upper body push and an upper body pull exercise
You can pair these two exercises together to be more time-efficient. Hit one exercise, immediately do the other and then take a rest before going back to the first exercise. Examples of upper body push moves will be any bench press variation, pushups, shoulder press, etc. Examples of an upper body pull will be a bent-over row, pullups, seated row, etc.
Perform 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps
3. Pick a single-leg exercise and an exercise that will focus on your weak points
Single-leg work is key for health. It forces us to work and stabilize in ways that we normally would not have to. My recommendation is to pick something that will compliment the first exercise you picked. So if I chose to do deadlifts earlier, I would do something like a reverse lunge or a step-up. If I chose to do squats, I would do a single-leg deadlift or a single-leg glute bridge. The reason for this is that a deadlift is a hip-dominant move so we want to compliment that with a knee-dominant move and vice-versa.
Picking something as a weak-point is sometimes hard to do on our own because our natural inclination is to avoid doing things we suck at. Trust me, I do it all the time. A general recommendation would be focusing on lagging muscles or often forgotten muscles like the upper back, rear delts or the glute med.
Perform 3 sets x 10-15 reps
4. Lastly, I always like to finish off with some core and conditioning work
My general recommendations for core work is to keep it basic. Ab wheel rollouts, farmers walks or plank variations are a great start. In terms of conditioning, if you are lucky enough to have battle ropes, prowlers or even assault bikes at your gym, those are super efficient. If not, doing things like sprints, HIIT on cardio equipment or even some kind of bodyweight circuit is a great option.
Perform 3 sets x 10-15 reps
There you have it! Always remember to plan your session before you enter the gym. Have a good idea of what you’d like to do and adjust as needed if some equipment is unavailable, etc. You now have no excuse! If you ever have any questions, hit me up @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to help you in any way I can.