Search

A Step by Step Guide to Planning a Workout Part 2: Choosing a Structure




After you've decided how often you'll go to the gym, and the muscles you'll target, the next step is to pick how you want to structure your routine.


There are three basic ways to structure your exercises: circuits, super sets, and straight sets. Choosing which one you'll use will be dictated by the amount of time you have at the gym and your overall goals. I'll go through each one and their advantages, and best uses.


Circuits

Circuits are great when you're shorter on time and planning to hit multiple body parts. You can make your entire routine a circuit, or do like I do, and divide each portion of your workout into 3 smaller circuits.

How it works:

You will do each exercise immediately following the previous. Rest when the circuit is complete. It's usually structured so that you aren't doing two exercises that hit the same muscle group back to back. This allows for the previous muscle group to rest while you do the next one.


Example:

10 squats

10 push-ups

10 lunges

10 seated row

10 bicep curls

10 tricep dips

10 crunches

Rest

Repeat


You would do your rep count of each one, then rest for a few minutes when the entire circuit is complete. Then you'd repeat the whole thing 1-2 more times.

Your circuit also doesn't need to be your whole workout at once. I usually divide mine into 3 smaller circuits that group together exercises that I can do closer together based on a combination of equipment proximity and muscle groups. For example you may choose to group your circuit together based on your use of a barbell. You could create a circuit that groups your deadlifts, bicep curls and good mornings together.


If you plan to make small circuits, my suggestion is to pick your exercises first, then group them together based on muscles, proximity, etc.


Why you'd use it:

Because your moving on to your next exercise fairly quickly there's a lot less waiting around between sets. This means things get done faster. And when things get done faster, you get out sooner!


Another advantage to circuits is it keeps your heart rate elevated longer as your spend more of your time working and less time waiting around. Not to mention it keeps things interesting.



Super Sets

Super sets place two exercises back to back with no rest between.


How it works:

You can either choose to work opposing muscle groups (like a chest exercise followed by a back exercise) or two completely different muscle groups. You complete a set of each before resting and then doing the next set.


Example:

10 chest press

10 seated row

Rest

Repeat


Why you'd use it:

If you're not into circuits, but looking to shave down some time, super sets are great because you eliminate some of the rest periods between sets. They also work on muscular endurance as you're doing more work before resting. The same as the circuit, you are giving one muscle group a rest while you work on the next.



Straight sets


How it works:

Just like it sounds, a straight set it doing one exercise and then resting before you do the next set. You don't move on to the next exercise until you've completed all sets on the previous one.


Example:

10 bicep curls

Rest

Repeat


Why you'd use it:

If you're working on building some serious strength and are lifting pretty heavy weights, allowing your whole body more rest, and rest between sets, is ideal. It will allow you to conserve all your energy for your next big "push."


Again, how you chose to structure your routine is going to depend on your personal goals and time. For example, you may start out with circuits with the overall goal of simply getting into shape. They'll keep things interesting and get you out faster. But from there you may fall in love with weights and really want to work on maximizing strength. This is when you may find yourself shifting to more of a super or straight set approach.


When you've decided on your approach, it's finally time for the best part, picking your exercises.


With lots of equipment to chose from, when you're first starting out it can be confusing to know what you should be using. In the next post I'll go over the different types and the benefits of each.

3 views0 comments