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How to Structure Your Strength Workout

fitness Jan 14, 2022

Think of your strength workout like a sandwich - there are important layers that complement one another, and without one, it just isn’t complete. This is how I structure my strength workouts to set my clients up for success - whether it’s a 20 min quickie or a 60 min session, I include an element of all of these components:

  1. The Warmup: Warming up is all about setting the tone for the rest of your workout - mentally and physically! Get your body primed, get in the workout zone and set yourself up for success with moves that warm up your muscles and joints. Some of my go-to warm up moves include: bodyweight squats, forward folds, arm circles and world’s greatest stretch. Complete your warm-up moves x 30 - 45 sec for a total of 5-10 mins.

  2. Activation: Engaging the proper muscles in your working sets is super important to get the most from your workouts, and most importantly - to keep you safe. Low load (body-weight or banded), high-rep exercises that target our less active muscle groups - glutes, core & back - are game-changers. Complete 45 - 60 sec per move x 1-3 sets to fire up the muscles you’re about to work. Some of my favourite activation moves include: banded hip thrusts, dead bugs, low planks, band pulls and banded rows.

  3. The Working Sets: Now that you’re warm, primed and ready to go, it’s time to lift some weights. I love to lift heavy (with an emphasis on proper form) in the 8-12 rep range, because that’s the magic zone for results you can see & feel. More muscle, strength, skill, confidence, endorphins - do not be afraid to lift heavy with time. 8-12 reps of each exercise x 1-4 sets is optimal for building muscle/strength. When I’m building a full-body strength workout, I include 1-2 of each of the following functional compound movements for optimal efficiency:

    1. Push ex push-up, overhead press, plank

    2. Pull ex row, curl, pull-up

    3. Hinge ex deadlift, hip thrust, kettlebell swing

    4. Lunge ex step back, step up, lateral, split squat

    5. Squat ex sumo, jump, goblet squat

    6. Twist ex single side exercises, carries, shoulder taps

  4. Pro Tip: One thing I learned firsthand is that if there’s any muscle group you don’t like training, for many of my clients it’s core, do those exercises FIRST so you actually do them! Just because you don’t like training a certain muscle group, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it! If you leave something you don’t like doing until the end of the workout, it’s so much easier to just skip it.

  5. Cool-Down: Take it from me, don’t skip the stretch! It’s really important to properly cool down from your working sets with full-body stretches (holding 30-60 seconds/stretch). Tight muscles are weak muscles, and staying on top of your mobility is key for your well-being, performance and for injury-proofing your body. I take 5-10 mins to stretch and enjoy the wash of endorphins!

That’s how I structure my strength workouts! Keep it simple, focus on moving your body to feel good and feel the benefits of your workouts overall. Want to see it all in action? Follow @melrosetraining on Instagram and join me for weekly IG live workouts!

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