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How to Structure a Workout

Your goals can change the way you should structure your workouts! Athletes train for their specific sports, and you should train for your specific goals.

In this blog I am going to go over how you should structure your workouts for general strength training! These concepts are applicable to most workout programs no matter what the goals are behind the planning.

In short, these concepts can be summed up by saying: Focus on compound movements and higher intensity in the beginning of the workout, and dive into higher repetitions and more isolation exercises as the workout progresses.

Compound movements are the exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once. In the strength training world, we often find these to be barbell movements such as the squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press! However there are many more compound movements than those 4 alone: bent over rows, pull ups, dips, push ups...the list goes on. These are the movements that you should start your session with, and typically give the most effort and intensity too (aka go heavier!)

Programming example: Upper Body Workout

Exercise 1: Barbell Bench Press 3 sets of 5 reps

Exercise 2: Barbell Overhead Press 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Exercise 3A: Dips 3 sets of 12-15

Exercise 3B Pull Ups 3 sets of 10-12

As you can see, the first 4 exercises in this upper body workout example are all compound movements. You can also see that the rep ranges go up a bit as the workout progresses: this is to maximize your performance on the main movements in the beginning and allow you to move more weight! Rep ranges can vary depending on specific goals and program design as well.

At this point, your muscles are tired, and it is time to isolate them and really get that last bit of effort out of them.

Exercise 4A: Chest Supported DB Row 3 sets of 12-15

Exercise 4B: DB Lateral Raises 3 sets of 12-15

Exercise 5A: DB Incline Curl 3 sets of 12-15, 1 set to failure

Exercise 5B: DB Skullcrushers 3 sets of 12-15, 1 set to failure

Exercise 6A: Cable Tricep Extension 3 sets of 20-30 (failure)

Exercise 6B: Cable Hammer Curl 3 sets of 20-30 (failure)

As you can see in the programming example, I typically utilize supersets towards the end of the session as the rep ranges go up and fatigue sets in. These sets are really where you are trying to get as much blood flow into your muscles as you can handle and really finish off the session.

Note: The BEST way to grow and really isolate your muscles is to lose your ego and drop the weight!

All in all, these concepts can be implemented and modified in order to accommodate any goals, especially when it comes to general strength training. If you are interested in a holistic online coaching and personal training program that implements these principles to help you meet your health and fitness goals, check out

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