When it comes to setting up an effective workout, you have more options than Ben & Jerry’s has flavors. Unfortunately, whether it’s ice cream or program design, too many options can get downright stressful.
Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours in front of the freezer, trying to decide if you’re in the mood for Chubby Hubby or Half Baked.And with all of the experts in the industry pushing different methods, how do you know what’s really best?Today, my goal is to answer that question. And, thankfully, it’s not as complicated as you might think.When it comes to organizing workouts, your best bet is to answer these 5 questions to determine how to prioritize your training.
1. What are you trying to get out of your training?
For example, are you a long-distance cyclist who does strength training to prevent injury and build up some muscle for tackling those hills? Or are you primarily a bodybuilder looking to balance out your program and use cardio for “active recovery? In the first case, you might devote three-quarters of your training time to running, and only one-quarter to a few selected resistance exercises that help you with your sport. In the second case, you might do the reverse, making strength training 75% of your training time.
2. Do you do other activities, and if so, do you do them constantly?
5. What kind of strength training do you want to do?
Do you want to do mostly rehab or injury prevention type exercises? Bodybuilding type exercises? Sport-specific type exercises? High-skill exercises such as the Olympic lifts (clean and jerk; snatch)?
So, in part, how you balance it depends a lot on your abilities, limitations and goals.
Here are some general rules:
A lot of cardio work, particularly of the endurance-based variety (e.g. distance running), will inhibit your maximal strength gains and ability to put on muscle mass. In other words, if your goal is to max out on the squat or bench press, or to get super huge, keep the long distance running to a minimum. When done in the same workout, put strength training first. The body uses fuels in a particular order of preference. If you put a lot of cardio in before you do strength training, you’ll run out of gas. Note: This rule doesn’t really apply so much if you have a few hours and a meal or two in-between. You can use brief periods of cardio, say 5 min or so, as a warm-up for your strength training.
If you’re doing heavy weight training on the body part you’re also using for your cardio of choice, consider doing them on different days. For example, don’t try to take on a long run right after a killer squat workout. Don’t try to row a few kilometers right after you just knocked off a bunch of pull-ups.