3 Tips For Better Workouts

When training for performance, there are things we can do with workout structure and fatigue management that can make a difference in how effective our training is at impacting performance outcomes. Today we will briefly discuss 3 tips that can help you have the most effective workouts possible.

Fast First - Place Fast Exercises Earlier In The Workout

If you are training for speed, power, or explosiveness in general, you should follow your warm up with the fastest exercises of the workout first. For example if you planned to do some squats, power cleans, jumps, and limb specific isometrics without using contrasts, you should start the workout with the jumps, move on to the olympic lifts, then do the squats, and finish with the isometrics.

When we are less fatigued at the beginning of a workout, our ability to produce power, rate of force development, and high peak velocities will be greater. Since we want to perform our training with the highest quality possible and with the greatest potential for positive results, we should shift the jumps, olympic lifts, or otherwise fast exercises to the beginning of the workout.

Since faster movements are generally more technically demanding, it is important to perform them when under minimal fatigue so you can execute them well and not get injured. Also, we want to use as much of our fast twitch muscle fibers as possible when performing faster exercises, but these fibers are easily fatigued when we train. With this in mind, it makes sense that we can get the most out of our fast twitch fibers earlier in the workout, before we have done heavier exercises which cause significant fatigue.

To summarize, if you are doing one exercise at a time in your workout, progress from the faster and more explosive exercises earlier in the workout, to slower and less technical exercises as the workout goes on.

Save Time and Push Performance Using Contrasts

As covered in a previous video, contrasts are a great tool for athletes to use in their training. Contrasts allow us to train multiple qualities in shorter periods of time such as strength and power, while also allowing for some potentiation between exercises and giving the brain a more complex set of tasks to complete.

Since contrasts typically include faster exercises like jumps, loaded jumps, or olympic lifts, contrast sets using explosive movements should be placed earlier in the workout for the reasons previously stated. Also, contrasts should use lower reps on the strength lifts, such as sets of 2 or 3 reps, so that the fatigue from the slower lift is not so high as to disrupt the quality of the faster movements performed in the contrast.

An example contrast might be to perform a squat, immediately followed by a loaded jump and then an unloaded jump. A further progression would be to perform the main lift, a jump, a loaded jump or deloaded main lift, and then a faster jump. For more on this, check out my previous video on contrast training.

When Quality Drops, Move On To Slower and Simpler Exercises

The last tip for this video is to pay attention to the quality of your movement, moving on from faster, heavier, or more complex exercises when fatigue becomes noticeable. For example if you are performing jumps and you start to feel sluggish, it would be wise to move on to slower strength work. Similarly if you’re performing a big lift like squat or deadlift and your velocity or form begins to decay, it would be wise to move on to regional strength exercises that isolate certain muscle groups and require less technical skills.

Because we train certain qualities with certain types of movements, we should do our best to be aware of when those qualities are no longer trainable in the session and then move on to other types of training that are appropriate for our level of fatigue. If you can’t move fast, move on to slower movements. If the slower movements begin to be less stable, less powerful, and otherwise noticeably worse after some number of sets, move on to something less taxing and less complex. 

The same concept applies to the workout as a whole. If continuing on to other exercises has a high likelihood of inhibiting your ability to recover by the next time you plan to train, it might be worth simply shutting things down and moving into recovery mode rather than driving the wedge deeper and becoming too fatigued.

Conclusion

By keeping these tips in mind when setting up and executing your training, you can have a greater likelihood of staying healthy and improving performance. Throughout your workout, move from faster or more complex movements to slower and less complex movements as the workout progresses. When training for explosive strength and power, consider using contrasts between heavy and fast exercises so that you can benefit from the effects of contrast training. Lastly, as you move through a workout, pay attention to your movement quality and overall level of fatigue, shifting toward less taxing exercises or cutting off the workout completely once your level of fatigue is noticeably impacting the quality of your workout. 

We go to battle to win, not to get killed on the battlefield.