Learning to appropriately build and structure workouts based on experience, goal and equipment available is essential for maximizing your response to training. If you want to reach your desired body composition in an effective and efficient manner, building workouts that work for you is essential.
Your goal of training should be to get the maximum benefit from each exercise and whole workout for your target muscle group and purpose. Doing so will allow for efficient growth; a key to long-term success.
Steps To Building Effective Workouts
If you're motivated to change, the days of just grabbing a few exercises from the vault are a thing of the past. Making effective workouts takes meticulous attention to detail, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature.
Decide On The Target Muscle Group
The first step in structuring your workouts correctly is determining which primary muscle groups you are focusing on.
It likely seems obvious that this is the first choice, however it’s important to consider still because it should dictate the whole direction of the workout. If you decide to work on a muscle group halfway through the workout, there’s a possibility you’re not getting maximum benefit.
Decide on which muscle groups you plan to target ahead of time.
Decide On The Workout Purpose
The second step to effectively build your routine is to decide the primary focus of the workout. This could include training for strength, hypertrophy, fatigue resistance or fat loss (there are more, but for simplicity's sake, we'll stick with these). Pre-deciding on this focus is essential for determining which exercises to use, the order in which you complete them and the effort you put forth for each.
Rather than pre-fatiguing muscle groups with lighter isolation movements, stick with the most demanding, compound movements, first.
Start With The Most & Demanding Exercises
Once you’ve chosen your muscle group and purpose, you can begin to start building the workout.
At this point, I suggest starting with compound movements that are the most demanding in terms of fatigue. The reason for this is that it makes sense to have as much energy and muscular resource when completing these exercises as it will allow for the highest intensity and thus, potential for growth.
There is some question as to whether “pre-fatiguing” primary muscle groups before compound movements are beneficial.
However, it’s quite likely that pre-fatiguing the muscle will lead to excess fatigue during compound movements, rather than providing a greater growth stimulus. It’s also likely that the total work completed from pre-fatigue + compound would end up being less than simply working on the compound movement first.
Rather than pre-fatiguing muscle groups with lighter isolation movements, stick with the most demanding, compound movements.
Add In Specific Accessory Movements
Once you’ve determined which primary compound movements you want to use, you need to choose specific accessory movements based on your target muscle group.
Depending on the primary muscle groups, these exercises often include isolation movements. For example, if you’re working chest and back, you might include dumbbell flies and seated row. If you are training legs, you might include things like leg extensions and Romanian deadlifts.
The primary muscle groups being worked determine which isolation movements you should include. Further, I suggest attempting to opt for exercises that are most beneficial for the target muscle group. For example, with regards to triceps, a pushdown is far more beneficial than a dumbbell kickback for numerous reasons. Overall, I would always opt for the pushdown.
There are many other movements like this too, so ensure that you're actually paying attention to which exercises produce the greatest benefit.
Example Workout Structure
How To Create Effective Workouts
Using this method certainly is not the only way to structure effective workouts. Crossfit for example often incorporates wildly different exercises, focuses, etc. However, if your goal is to specifically increase strength in certain movements or growing certain body parts, this method is likely a better choice.
By using this structure, you ensure that you are targeting specific muscle groups while ensuring the biggest return from each exercise and the workout as a whole.