Tips for Setting up Your Personalized Workout
If you’ve looked through our articles on exercises and workouts, you may have noticed just how many there are to choose from. It can be difficult to tell which ones to work on, on what days, and how to keep track of your progress.
We’ve developed these tips to help you customize your own workout.
Diagnose Your Needs and Weaknesses
- Most athletes need a full-body approach that includes arms, legs, core, back, and occasional emphasis on smaller areas, like the neck or groin, to help prevent injury.
- Your specific sport and position will give you guidance on which areas to target with extra training. If you’re unsure, consult with your coach on where you need extra training. These could be generic areas related to your position or specific areas where you could use extra work.
Picking the Exercises & Drills
- Selecting the exercises that make up your workout is pretty simple. Most exercises will tell you which muscles they work, such as a hamstring raise, or will be fairly obvious in the description. Keep an eye out for exercises like push-ups, which should work your chest more than your arms, and pull-ups which should work your shoulders, back and core. Try to get at least 2 exercises in your program for each muscle group.
- Also try to include sport-specific drills. These drills should translate directly to your sport while working on either cardio or strength training. For example, you may work with an agility ladder or sprints to work on speed and agility.
- When you have your exercises picked out, spend a few days to a week tracking your current ability. Write down all of the information on the reps and sets you can do. This will help you choose the right intensity when you create your schedule.
- If you choose to include squats, for instance, see how many reps you can perform at once. If you can get to 20 reps and still have energy to do more, you need to increase the intensity with weights or other squat variations.
- Try to keep up with this tracking over time. After each exercise, write down the reps and sets you completed. This written log will also help you set goals and see how well you’ve progressed over time.
Setting a Goal
- Once you know where you need to focus and know where you currently are in terms of ability, find out where you want or need to be. Set a timeframe as well as a reasonable, achievable goal.
- For example, if you can only perform 10 pull-ups, aim to get to 20 in 6 weeks. You may also add goals that are related to your athletic performance. This can help you get an idea of whether or not your strength and endurance training is working for you.
- Update your goals every month or so, especially if you’re entering or exiting the off-season.
Planning a Schedule
- The best way to plan your workout schedule is to sit down with a calendar. Write in when your practices and games are scheduled. Make sure to pencil in at least one day of rest. If you prefer using technology, there are plenty of calendar-based To-Do apps that can help you schedule your workouts weeks or months in advance.
- Next, plan your workout days. You can plan to work on one area at a time, e.g., “Legs Day,” “Arms Day,” “Core Day,” etc. However, careful planning can create a more efficient and effective schedule.
- For example, instead of performing 3 sets of squats with 2 minutes of rest in between, alternate between a set of squats, one minute of rest, a set of dumbbell rows, one minute of rest, a set of squats, etc. Because you’re not working the same muscles, you can take shorter rest periods and work more muscle groups at once.
- You really don’t need to spend a lot of time in the gym. 45 minutes is enough time to get in 15 to 25 sets, not including your 5 minute moderate cardio warm-up and your post-workout stretching. If you feel you can go longer than an hour, try increasing the intensity next time.
- Try planning out 5 to 7 exercises (each with 2 to 4 sets) for each workout with two to three programmed schedules, e.g., Workout A, Workout B and, if your training demands it, Workout C. You can rotate these workouts as needed in a split schedule.
- You can also try gathering 30 or more exercises and cycling them by the week. Week 1, Week 2, etc., will all work the same general areas but will use completely different exercises. This is a good option if you get bored easily.
- Increase your weights slowly. If you can do 20 reps fairly easily, then it’s time to increase the weight.
- Don’t forget to include cardio like sprints or plyometrics. You can either do these on a separate cardio day or incorporate them in between your other exercises.
- Keep the schedule consistent, but try to mix things up every 6 to 8 weeks so you don’t get bored. Replace one quad exercise with a new one or add variations of push-ups and pull-ups as your strength and endurance improve.
Eating Properly & Stay Hydrated
Your performance is only as good as the fuel in your body. For more information on maximizing your strength and endurance, check outNutrition for Athletes and Tips for Proper Hydration.
Still unsure how to start?
There’s nothing wrong with using a workout plan that’s already planned and scheduled for your sport. You can use these as a solid foundation for a month or so. Then analyze what areas you need to focus on and slowly start customizing the workout with your own additional or replacement exercises.
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