Question: How do you keep your workouts interesting?
First off, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to check out my site, as well as for asking the great question.
A lot of trainers these days are trying to sexify their programs, but unfortunately for their clients, sexifying means tossing a bunch of random things into a program purely for the sake of doing so. You know what’s really sexy? Results are sexy, and you don’t get them by haphazardly throwing exercises together and calling it a program, so lets go over some things you can do to simultaneously make things interesting while at the same time setting your clients up for success.
Play with the variables
In a training program, you only have control over 5 things: the number of reps, sets, amount of weight being used, rest time between sets/exercises, and the tempo of the exercise, so it would behoove you to tinker around with these variables to challenge your clients in different ways. Has your client been doing 3×5 on the bench press, ramping up the weight each set with 90 seconds of rest in between sets? During the next phase of their programming, knock their rest down to 60 seconds and see how they respond. You could even keep the rest periods the same, but on their final set, have them see how many reps they can get with the same weight they previously used for 5 reps.
Here is another scenario for your mind. If you have a client that loves push ups but is so good at them that they knock them out with no problem, adjust the tempo. Have them lower for 3 seconds, pause at the bottom for 5, and then take 1 second to explode back to the starting position. Definitely something different, but you’re still keeping them on track by using the same exercise yet making that minor adjustment to one of the variables.
Don’t be afraid to play around with things, just make sure you don’t change everything all at once – pick one variable to adjust and stick with it for a few weeks, then adjust another of your choosing further down the line. Rinse and repeat, repeat, repeat!
After 4-6 weeks of the same thing, most clients are ready for a change, and by thinking in terms of movement patterns instead of which exercises work which muscles, you can definitely give it to them without disrupting their progress. Here are the movement patterns you should be concerned with, and some of the exercises that correspond with them (keep in mind that there are also unilateral versions of many of the exercises listed below):
Knee-Dominant: Front/Back Squat, Forward/Reverse Lunge, Split Squat, Bi-Lateral Deadlift variations, Etc
Hip-Dominant: Good Morning, Single-Leg Deadlift variations, Supine Hip Extension, Etc
Vertical Push: Push Press, DB Military Press, Handstand Pushups, Etc
Vertical Pull: Chinups, Pullups, Lat Pulldown, Etc
Horizontal Push: Bench Press, Pushup, Dips, Etc
Horizontal Pull: Chest Supported Row, Cable Face Pull, 1 Arm Standing Cable Row, Etc
Bridging/Core Stabilization: Plank, Ab Wheel Rollouts, Side Bridge, Pallof Press, Etc
Alwyn Cosgrove, one of the best in the business at delivering results, states in his Program Design Bible that “the body adapts to the rep range the fastest and the exercise selection the slowest,” meaning that you really don’t have to change exercises all that often, but if it makes your client more likely to stick with your training program, then have at it (Cosgrove 44).
One way to do this would be to replace certain exercises with other exercises that adhere to the same movement pattern. For example, you could replace pushups with alternating dumbbell bench press. Both are horizontal pushes, but you’re providing your body with a different stimulus while at the same time providing some variety. The same process can be carried out for all the other movement patterns, so have a blast.
I’m going to assume that most of your clients are interested in fat loss since that’s what almost everybody is interested in these days. If that’s the case, well then I have some suggestion that will certainly make things interesting; notice I said interesting and not fun – if they want fun you can take them to the circus!
At the end of a workout, you can have your client go through a certain number of exercises back to back with minimal rest and have them do it for time, for a certain number of reps on each exercise. For example:
A) Burpees x 10
B) Pushups x 10
C) Mountain Climbers x 30sec
D) Kettlebell or Dumbell Swings x 20 total or 10 each arm
Rest time depends on their level of conditioning. Repeat 2-3 more times.
You could also limit the circuit to 3 exercises and simply block off a period of time (lets say 10 minutes), seeing how many times they can go through the circuit in the allotted amount of time. In terms of circuit ideas, you are only limited by your imagination, even when the amount of equipment at your disposal is lacking. Weighted complexes are another route you could take, just make sure that they don’t go for reps at the cost of their form.
Hopefully that helped answers your question and gave you some ideas to take back to your own gym. Feel free to contact me via e-mail or leave a comment below if you have anymore questions and I’ll be sure to get back with ya.
Until next time!