Prioritizing Your Workout

prioritiesCreating a successful training program involves placing the right elements of your workout in the right order to maximize it’s effectiveness.  If a training routine is sloppily made, you might not be getting the most out of it or setting yourself up for burnout or injury.  Today we’re covering the elements of a workout and the best ways to place them in a workout.  Ok, so we’re really doing that backwards…I’m going to list the training elements in order then explain why…Moving on!

1 – Warmup

This one is pretty obvious so we’re not going to spend much time on it.  5-10 minutes should be all you need.  No stretching.  Just light exercise.  You’re getting the body primed for working out.  You should finish your warmup lightly sweating.

2 – Dynamic Stretches

If increasing your flexibility is part of your training goals, now is one of the times to work on it.  About 10 minutes is all you’ll need.  I like to focus on 3 stretches per workout session using a 3 set x 10-15 rep scheme.  Dynamic stretching is basically an extension of your warmup so keep moving and keep them muscles warm.

3 – Sprints/Plyometrics

You’re warm.  You’re loose.  You’re fresh.  Now is the best time for a sprint or plyometric session.  There’s a couple of main reasons to place this at the beginning of your workout.  Since your workout has just started, you should be fresh and raring to go.  This will allow you to push yourself as hard as possible giving you the biggest benefit.  Also, since you’re still fresh, you minimize your chance of injury.

4 – Strength Training

I know what you’re saying….”Strength training right after sprints? You must be out of your mind!”  While that’s up for discussion, I still stand by the opinion that this is the best time to do it.  Sprint sessions are short enough that you should be able to recover quickly and resume training (provided you have been conditioning for a while).  Plus you don’t want to leave this until the end of training because that will leave you tired and more open to injuries.  Give yourself a little time to recover before the strength training, then hit it hard.  Again, this will be brief, working on a few of the big lifts to maximize strength and power.

5 – Techniques / Drills / Sparring

Now it’s finally time to practice all your techniques and their application to sparring.  Depending on your needs, fitness level, and time, this part of the workout session may last anywhere from 20- 45 minutes.

6 – Cardio Conditioning

For those who wish to add a little jogging or jump rope to their session, this is the time.  Don’t go super hard unless you’re still feeling perky.  Typically I treat this part as the beginning of my cooldown and go for a walk.  Keep it less than 15 minutes.

7 – Cooldown / Static Stretching

Spend the last 10-15 minutes stretching all your muscles you worked today.  This is the other time of the training session to increase your flexibility.  Stretching at the end also helps with recovery and soreness.  A good investment is a foam roller.  It helps break up tight areas and promotes blood flow.

This might seem like a lot, but it’s doubtful everything I listed will be in your workout routine every time you hit the gym.  The template I listed above is to show placement priorities.  Here’s an example of a weekly training routine (6 days on, 1 day off) for a beginner Taekwondo fighter:

Training Priorities ChartI left the spaces to help illustrate what was added/removed. 

Please note these are just guidelines.  If you’re new to training, you will need to experiment to find an intensity level that doesn’t leave you too tired to finish the session or too sore to train the next day.  You might solve the problem by reducing the reps, weight, or duration of individual training elements.  Make notes everyday.  Track the sets, reps, duration, rest time, weight used, and how you feel after each section of the training session.

Got questions?  Did I leave anything out?  Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help!


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