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How to Structure Your Gym Sessions

Updated: Jan 16

A lot of people attack the gym without a plan. But it is all good, because they're making progress.


Meh.


Imagine the difference if you attacked the gym with plan and structure. You'd get to your outcome goal more efficiently, and be better off for it in the long run.

The majority will wing their way through a gym session purely due to lack of education. This post is aimed towards helping the wider rugby community on how to structure a gym session.


1. Understand the End Goal

Not understanding your end goal basically means you are just hoping to go into the gym, throw s**t at the wall, and see what sticks. It may work out for the small percentage, but it is a stupid way to train. By establishing your end goal you can focus your training specifically for your needs.


So what is your end goal? Strength? Power? Speed? Conditioning? Structure your training around what you want to achieve.


2. Figure Out How You are Going to Get There

Now you understand what you want to achieve, it is important to map out how you are going to get there. Periodising your training is key to ensure you all of your training weeks and months build on each other to better reach your end goal. This is a blog post in itself, and one I will get round too doing.


Now to talk about what you are here for, individual session structure.....


3. Master the Warm-Up

If you are rocking up to the gym and only smashing out a few lateral raises with a 2.5kg plate you are leaving a massive area of your training untouched. The benefits of the warm up are widely known from an injury risk point (warm-up to not get injured for the session ahead) but the benefits go far beyond just this! Flip the warm-up mindset to one that improves your overall performance, let me explain...


Warm ups are great opportunity to do the following:

  • Include rehab exercises to reduce risk of injury over the long term

  • Increase your overall training volume

  • Master fundamental movement skills

  • Improve the quality of your session

A few more reasons to attack the warm-up the same as any other part of your session. So how should it look?


Raise - low intensity activity to raise your body temperature and heart rate

Activate - activation of key muscle groups through bodyweight movements and use of bands.

Mobility - focusing on the movement, mobility, and stability of key areas

Potentiate - aimed at improving the performance of your session. Jumps etc.


4. What Exercises Come First?

Deciding on which exercises to complete first will depend on your overall goal and session content. If you are including sprints, plyometrics, power, and ballistic style exercises, then these should be completed first (unless you are contrast training, again, another blog). These exercises are 'high intensity' and shouldn't be done under fatigue.


Following that, moving on to the main chunk of your session, you should then focus on completing your main compound lifts first. Following this complete your accessory exercises, and any conditioning at the end OR during a separate part of the day.


5. Picking Exercises - Train Movements, Not Muscles.

Chest day, back day, leg day (probably missed) also known as bro science. Optimal for bodybuilding? Maybe. For sporting performance 99% of the time I will say no.


When programming your exercises I want you to remove the idea of including all of your muscles, and focus on movements.


Below are some examples of how you can break down movements for your upper and lower body.


You do not need 12 exercises for your chest, or a separate day for your shoulders.


The best programming is one with a minamilsm approach. How can you get to your end goal as efficiently as possible?


Upper Body: Horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push, vertical pull - Single arm variations of all)

Lower Body: Knee dominant, hip dominant. - Single leg variations of both as well as static and dynamic movement.


Conclusion


Set a goal, make a plan, build your structure around both, and you are on to a winner.

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