Skip links

Workout Structure, Exercise Order and Preparing for Your Lifts

A calculated and well-thought-out workout structure with regards to your training will be the most significant catalyst for your progress. You cannot expect to walk into the gym, take a look around, see what’s available, notice what others are doing that might interest you, formulate your plan from there and then expect significant success. If this is a practice that you commonly partake in, then you’re simply holding yourself back from what could be.

If, on the other hand, you are at the opposite end of this spectrum and have put a significant amount of thought into your gym prep, then my guess is you are of the biggest and baddest in your gym. To help you with your workout structure, regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re at, here are a few excellent suggestions or reminders you may want to keep in mind. You will become better at structuring your workouts, choosing the correct exercises for that session and subsequently you will have a better understanding of the correct or preferred order of your selected movements.

Finally, getting yourself into the right mindset whereby you can make every single rep of each set count towards getting better, will prove to be the final piece of the training puzzle.

Your Workout Structure

There is a lot to consider when you sit down and start thinking about what your workout structure is going to look like. As time passes and you gain more experience, all of the components involved with fall into place a little easier for you but in the meantime, here is what you have to account for.

First off, you have to look at what your overall training split for the week will be. Are you going to follow a Push/Pull/Lower body split whereby you train the entirety of your body over three days or will you be training one muscle group per day, or will you be training a bigger muscle group with a smaller one and finally, how many rest days will you need to recover?

Once you’ve established your split, then you have to consider what type of training principles will you be using. Are you going to stick with one or will you be introducing multiple approaches to increase intensity within the workout?

The last part you need to consider when structuring your workouts is how much time will you have available to train? This will be incredibly important if time is an issue for you when there’s lots of work that needs to get done.

Exercise Selection

Now that you have the overall workout structure is established, it’s time to get into the details of your actual training. Choosing the best exercises for your unique needs will be incredibly important for not only your progress but your safety as well. So knowing which exercises work best for you and your body structure and type is key.

Secondly, where is your focus? Are you more interested in compound lifts which incorporate more than one joint movement and multiple muscle groups or do you like a more isolated approach where the focus is targeted to one specific area? Maybe you like a combination of both which means you’ll be choosing and performing more exercises within your training session.

After this, what will you be using as your tools in the gym? Are you free weight-based, machine-based or bodyweight focused? Perhaps you are all of them and mix exercises from each into your program. Then finally, what order should you utilize the exercises you’ve chosen to do? If moving the big weights in your gym is important to you and being able to max out all the machines in the place is on your to do list, then you probably won’t want to pre-exhaust your muscles by starting with isolating type movements first.

You’re going to want to get right into the compound movements after warming up so just be sure that the order you perform your movements in matches up with your overall workout structure goals.

Lift Prep

What you do in the moments just before you engage in a lift will set the tone for the duration of your set. A powerful mental approach while you set up and what you have going through your head at the last second will be the deciding factor on the success of that set; even before you’ve lifted a single weight. For you to be in a position to make something positive happen within that set, you have to embed in your thoughts a certain degree of anger, aggression, hostility and fear.

You must succumb to the notion that whatever happens, happens with the hope you come out on the other end with all parts still intact. When you do this right, there is a level of controlled violence and ballistic force coupled with a Darwinian response that ultimately allows you to see your set through to the end or not. This is how you make all the work you complete in the gym count.

If you’re holding a conversation or still talking right up to the point of the lift, forget it. If you’re playing around with your phone and looking for just the right song, forget it. Nothing else should matter except for the fact that you’re going to try something out of the realm of belief and hope you survive it. This is how you prepare the workout structure for the good stuff in the gym and this is how you force new growth to occur.

When looking at what it takes to completely prepare for a single workout, let alone a year’s worth of training, it’s easy to see how you could become overwhelmed with it all. Yes, there is a lot to take into account when formulating your strategies and then actually executing the plan; but it’s worth it!

Playing the old guessing game and just hoping what you’re doing will be enough won’t be. Take the time to plan, to think about what you’re actually trying and wanting to achieve, make sound choices, play your plan out in your head, make educated and informed decisions and then carry out each component with precision. You are in complete control of your destiny and you make all of the decisions when it comes to the journey you’re on. The gym will be there when you want it; how you use it is up to you.

Welcome to Brickhouse Gym.

Author: Dana Bushell

Gym Star Team Member