So what is it that makes for the “perfect “ workout? Is it to have a certain movement included in? Is it to make sure you have a special kind of warm up in place? What about a certain type of cool down?
Not sure, but what I am certain about is how every workout should include these 5 different key elements I’m about to share with you. And I know that if YOU can make sure to include these 5 different training elements into every workout you do (or at least 99% of them) you’ll be well on your way to CRUSHING your overall results in no time. So let’s not waste anymore time and get right into the goods here…
Key Workout Element #1 – Have A GOAL / Purpose
It’s pretty common for me to get at least 1-2 Facebook messages and personal emails daily from people wanting to get advice on their workouts.
What should I be doing? How much should I be doing it? For how long? Well, before I can even think about answering these types of questions, I need to know WHY you’re training.
In other words, in order to make your workouts most effective, the one question that YOU need to always make sure to answer first is “WHY”.
WHY are you training and WHAT are you training for? Is it to improve on your performance for specific sport? Is it for fat loss? Is to build massive amounts of muscle? Or is it just to become a BADASS in Life?
What ever it might be you need to make sure to answer that question as best as you possible can so you know exactly what it is you’re training for. The worst thing you can do (and what I see way too much of) is to train without a GOAL or overall PURPOSE. Or if not that, training in such a way that’s not actually even geared towards your specific goal that you have in mind.
For example, while on a coaching call just here recently with a new client of mine, I asked him what he was currently doing for training. He replied telling me he was doing your classic bodybuilding type split training with upper, lower body split days.
His goal was to become a better overall athlete by doing more Olympic Lifts and possibly trying out a Crossfit competition in the future, but he couldn’t quite understand as to why he wasn’t getting any better.
Well, hopefully it’s pretty clear as to WHY he wasn’t getting better – he wasn’t training in accordance to his actual goal or PURPOSE for training.
I’ve also seen this same thing happen to a lot of the football players I train in my gym. If you think about it, football players need power, strength, speed, and agility, but yet when I asked this group of athletes about what they were doing before, they told me about how they were doing nothing but lightweight circuits and long distance running…
Again, NOT training in accordance to their overall GOALS. Main point here is to always have some sort of PURPOSE or reason WHY it is you’re doing what you’re doing.
Workout Element #2 – Dynamic Warm Up
The next element as simple as it may seem, is one of the most overlooked pieces to the “ultimate workout” puzzle. It’s to get the body prepared for battle or in other words, to “warm up”.
Now, there’s still a lot of people out there that still think a 5-minute jog and a few toe touches are more than enough to get them ready to train hard. Yeah, I can remember back when this kind of worked for me when I was 20, 21 and playing college football. Heck, back then I could walk into the gym after sitting through an afternoon classes and crank it up from 0-100 miles an hour in no time.
Now, it’s not the same and I understand how important it is to properly warm the body up. And this is for any age, not just as you get older. Everyone needs to loosen up their joints, raise their body temps, and slowly warm their system’s up. What you need to think about is how YOU’RE a machine and in order for you to run optimally, you need to properly warm up your engine.
As I mentioned, it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I finally realized just how important warming up truly was for overall performance. Shoot, it’s almost more important than the actual workout itself.
Either way, you may be asking what a dynamic warm up is?
Well, a good dynamic warm up will do what I talked about above which is:
- Raise Core Body Temp (get you sweating)
- Activate Muscles (so you can lift heavy weights)
- Loosen Joints (increasing overall range of motion)
- Awaken the Nervous System (so you can move FAST)
- Prep the Mind to Go H.A.M.
For a perfect overall example, check out the video below:
That’s what I like to call our “Sprinter’s Warm Up” because it’ll get you ready to go at top speed. It hits pretty much every muscle of the body, which is critical to do before a workout.
Now, the beauty of dynamic warm ups is in how you can make them as specific or non-specific as you need. While you can use the “The Sprinter’s Warm Up” for pretty much any workout, it would be best for full body sessions. What I typically try to do is make my dynamic warm-ups as relative as possible to what I’m doing for that actual training session.
For example, if I’m doing a session that involves some sort of Olympic Lift like a squat clean, I’ll make sure to hit the lower body up by loosening up the hips, low back, and ankles (to improve squat depth) then get my upper body loose as well including the shoulders, upper back, traps, lats (to improve catch position for clean) ect.
Bottom line on Dynamic Warm Ups is to USE them. Specific or non-specific, don’t ever skip out on using them.
Workout Element #3 – The “Right Stuff”
When I say the “right stuff”, this can mean pretty much anything and everything that’s effective at producing the results that you want. However, in order to get the actual “right stuff” you must first make sure to take care of Key Workout Element Numero UNO which if you remember, was to make sure and have a PURPOSE or GOAL for your training session. Because it’s only after you have that key element in place that you can actually make sure you’re including in the “right stuff”.
Now, once you’ve got that in place you can start to add in the “right stuff”, but, just hold up for a second. Its not always that easy because this is another area where a lot of people tend drop the ball. For example, if you’re a football player, is doing a high number of wall balls, bicep curls, crunches, and a bunch of long distance runs going to be considered “the right stuff” for you? Not exactly.
“The right stuff” still needs to be intelligently selected to include the right movements, for the right reasons, at the right time. To show you what I mean, using the football player example that I’ve been using for reference, here’s what I would consider to be “the right stuff” within a training session for him:
A1: Broad Jumps 5 rounds x 3 reps
***For Speed and Explosiveness – done first when the athlete is fresh
B1: Barbell Front Squat 5 rounds x 5 reps
***For Strength – done after power but before other movements so the athlete isn’t too fatigued
C1: DB Steps Ups 3 rounds x 15 reps
C2: KB Russian Swings 3 rounds x 15 reps
***For Strength / Assistance / Hypertrophy work – done after the main power and strength work has been completed – fatigue isn’t as much as a factor
D1: Heavy Sled Pushes and Pulls 3 rounds x 100 ft
***For conditioning – done last to cash out the workout
Bottom line on “the right stuff” is that there is no real right or wrong answer other than to make sure everything you do in your training session is relative to what you’re trying to achieve.
Workout Element #4 – FOCUS and INTENSITY
Now as simple as this workout element might appear, there’s still a LOT of people out there messing this one up. If you truly want to get the absolute BEST results from your training session you must go into that session FOCUSED. If you’re not focused, you’ll more then likely be wasting a lot of your time.
Seriously, if you want results, shut your damn phone off, stop the chit-chat, crank up the tunes (Ice Cube, Korn, Slayer, Pantera, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross are some of my personal favorites right now), and JUST DO WORK.
When I used to work at a local big box gym, I’d see so many people wasting their time checking their phone, looking in the mirror, or standing around chatting with other “hard working” members. Shoot, it’s no wonder these same people weren’t seeing the results they wanted to see.
Now, I’ll admit, I’ve fallen into the rut of “distracted training” by checking my phone here and there during a workout or worse, answering calls. Doing that can easily get your mind way off track so it’s best just to shut the phone off completely.
I used to leave my phone in my Jeep, out of the gym, but with a wife and a new baby in my life, I’ve got to have it around, but it’s certainly out of sight (just don’t tell my wife that) 😉
Bottom line is, you need to put the distractions away, shut off the phone if you can, put the tunes on full blast and FOCUS on Going 110% H.A.M. And if someone comes up to you to chat, make it be known that you’re there to DO WORK unless you’re the one walking around trying to be the social butterfly.
If that’s the case, STOP NOW because you’re probably just distracting people. Don’t be that dude (or chick).
Now, once you get that laser FOCUS on, all you gotta do from there is to make sure you put in your best effort every single time you train. Because that’s all you can do at the end of the day… Give it your all. If you want better, faster results; FOCUS and INTENSITY need to be a critical component within your training.
Workout Element #5 – The Cool Down
The last and final KEY workout element is that of having a solid cool down in place. Because once all of the craziness has ended, the recovery process now begins so it’s up to YOU to make sure that process gets kicked off the best way possible.
Now, depending on your schedule and the time you have left over after a session, your cool down could be different. What matters most is you do at least some sort of cool down. Here’s a few situations…
If you’ve got the time, I’d always recommend you hit about 10-15 minutes of focused mobility and soft tissue work. I say “focused” meaning to hit the areas of the body that you just worked. If you just did a full body session, just pick out 2-4 different areas and hit those. If you did more of a upper/lower type body part split session, hammer the areas you just worked.
One of my go-to full body based cool down routines looks like this:
A1: Big Lunge Hip Mobility x 90 secs per leg
A2: Wall Hip Flexor Stretch x 90 secs per leg
A3: Band Rack Mobility x 90 secs per arm
A4: Wall Sumo Sit x 2 mins
A5: Lacrosse Ball Soft Tissue Smash (Pick any two areas and spend 2 mins on each)
That right there only takes you about 12 mins or so to get done and will have you leaving your session feeling real nice.
Now, if you don’t have the time and you’ve got to jet out right after your session gets done, you can always fit that mobility / soft tissue work in sometime later in the day. Sometimes, I’ll do it right before I hit the sack which always has me feeling 100 x’s better when I wake up. Whenever you want to do it is up to you, just make sure to get it in.
Now, in addition to that, another way to “cool down” after a session if you don’t have the time to stick around for the mobility work, is to hit up 10-15 “deep breaths” to help calm your body down. This is something a LOT of us don’t even think about doing, nor do a lot of us even breath all that well during the whole course of the day overall. This will definitely help and what’s cool about it is how you can easily do this anywhere you may be after your session.
Maybe you’re in your car, back in the office, the shower…
Simply take a deep breath in through your nose focusing on filling up your chest full of air (VS. filling up just your belly). Once you have a deep breath of air into your chest, hold it for a count of 3-5 secs. After you hit 3-5 seconds, slowly breath the air out through your nose really focusing on trying to release all of the air you took in of your lungs until you’re completely empty. Also really try to allow yourself to relax with every single breath. When you get to 10-15 total breaths, you’ll feel like a new person and not only with this help calm you down, it will also help your body take in a bunch of fresh air.
So, there you go.
The 5 KEY Workout Elements.
If you want to best results, make sure your sessions have all 5 in place.