My philosophy on training is simple: hard, heavy, and intense. Regardless of your goals, when you walk out of the gym, you should feel like there is no possible way you could have worked harder during the past hour. Regardless of whether you are bulking up or trimming down, you always want to try to lift as heavy as possible while maintaining good form and staying safe. You should push yourself to do more reps or more weight each time you go to the gym. Don't worry about what the guy or girl next to you is doing, don't chitchat with your workout partner, and definitely don't bring your cell phone with you onto the gym floor. Your gym time should be just that: your time to get healthy; your time to build the best physique you can.
Like a nutritional program, there is no simple workout routine that works best for everyone. Some people need to stick to lower volume, heavier weights (4-6 reps), while others respond better to higher volume, moderate rep range (6-15) workouts. Regardless of your specific program, your main goal should always be to keep it as intense as possible. I recommend keeping a workout logbook to monitor your progress. This also helps ensure that you are always trying to up your intensity level and not just going through the motions.
My current offseason training consists of 6 weight training days and 1 cardio day. It looks something like this:
I train this way because it allows me to focus on one main body part each day, and it allows enough recovery time for each bodypart so that I can hit it with high intensity again the following week. I am usually sore for 2,3,or even 4 days after a particular workout, and with the combination of rest and proper nutrition, this seems to be a good recipe for growth for me. I normally do 4-7 exercises for my larger muscle groups and my rep ranges vary from 8-15. I always advocate sticking to basic, free-weight power exercises where possible. I include lots of supersets, drop sets, tri-sets, etc. in order to up my intensity. It is also extremely important to mix things up so you don't reach a plateau. I am constantly changing the exercises I do, the number of reps I do, and the order in which I do them.
As I get close to competition, my weight training stays very similar. One mistake many physique competitors make is lightening up and increasing reps when trying to "cut up." This is fastest way for you to lose muscle. You need to be continually trying to lift as heavy as possible (safely) while dieting. While you may lose some strength during a precontest diet, it should not be significant if your diet and training are in check. I will also gradually increase my cardio during my precontest diet but make sure not to do much where I am burning muscle instead of fat. I use a mixture of short (15-25 minutes) HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio sessions and longer (30-45 minutes) lower intensity cardio sessions.
In addition to training and proper nutrition, it is also crucial to get adequate rest. Remember you don't grow in the gym, you grow outside of it. I shoot for 7-8 hours every night. If you are not getting adequate sleep, your performance and physique will definitely suffer.
One final note to all the women out there who want to "tone up." Stop spending 2 hours a day on the treadmill and start pressing, deadlifting, and squatting. The best way to lose fat is to put on muscle so that your metabolism increases and you burn more fat throughout the day. The best way to build muscle is not by doing endless amounts of cardio but by strength training. Don't worry, you won't "get bulky" or "look like a man" if you lift heavy weights, your diet is in check, and you stay drug-free. Instead you will develop a well-toned, sexy, feminine figure that you will be proud of.
If you are interested in working with me to help develop a workout program specific to your body and your goals, and/or you would like me to be your personal trainer, please see the services section of my website.
© 2006 Stephanie Miller | All Rights Reserved | Pictures are under copyright of the photographer