5 Ways to Enhance Your Training Session

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

The goal of every training session should be to maximize the results of that training session. After all, who wants to spend 20-75 minutes of the day putting effort into something that is not going to yield top results? Not me!

First, let me share with you my definition of training as without this definition the following tips will not hold as much value.

 

Training is more than exercise.

Training is exercise that is strategically organized in order to promote a desired physiological adaptation (and for many, psychological). Each exercise and the manner/intent in which it is implemented will determine what kind of adaptation (result) the body will experience.

Whether the goal is movement efficiency, power development, strength or endurance enhancement, etc. there are a few things you can do to help increase the effectiveness of each training session and enhance overall PERFORMANCE.

1)      Train with a purpose: Whether your goal is to become the top athlete on your team or to simply obtain and live a healthier life based on fitness, each training session needs to have specific purpose. Is your goal to increase power output or your endurance capacity? Or maybe it is to add on a few pounds of lean mass and remove a little body fat. No matter the goal, make sure the session is designed and conducted with that purpose in mind (or have a professional do this for you!).

 

The whistle isn’t necessary, but if it works…

2)      Coach yourself: Closely related to the previous point, if you make sure to “coach” yourself throughout your session you will maintain the focus necessary to maximize results. What exactly do I mean? Know the purpose of every exercise and how it should be performed. If you simply go through the motions instead of focusing on which muscle groups are supposed to be working, you will likely develop compensatory movement patterns that will result in less than optimal outcomes (neural and muscular adaptations, caloric expenditure, etc.). Not only will performance outcomes suffer, but you will also place yourself at a greater risk for overuse injury, never a good thing! Stay focused, COACH yourself.

3)      Group / pair exercises: This is not something that is new, but it still amazes me how many programs do not take advantage of grouping or pairing exercises. What I am referring to is simply completing non-competing exercises is succession, rather than simply taking a break between sets of the same exercise. By pairing (or tripling, quadrupling) non-competing exercises you are allowed to perform more work within a given time frame (increase training density), which will inevitably enhance the imposed demand on the body and maximize results. Some typical pairings would be an upper body exercise with a lower body, a push with a pull, a corrective with a compound movement (i.e. hip flexor mobility with a deadlift) or one of my favorites, an activation/core with a compound movement (i.e wallslide/overhead MB taps with a TRX Row). The options are pretty much endless as long as the exercises being paired do not compromise the intensity or efficiency of the other.

 

4)      Make your rest periods work for you: Once you determine the goal of your training, and design the program with a purpose, a variable you can manipulate to better achieve the desired effect of training is specific rest periods. If you are going for power or strength longer rest periods (2-5 minutes)between sets and exercises are warranted. If you are looking to maximize muscle growth shorter rest periods work better (30s-3 minutes). If muscular endurance and/or fat loss is your primary goal, keeping rest periods between 30-60s is highly effective. But don’t forget the previous point…in many cases, during your “rest period” you can still complete non-competing exercise and maximize training density and time (unless you are a HIGHLY trained individual working power, max strength or sport skills).

5)      Take care of your peri-training nutrition: Your nutritional consumption surrounding training will either help or hinder your training performance and results (at least in most cases). Try to consume a meal you know you can handle about an hour before training (I can eat a full blown meal, others can barely handle a  shake so know yourself!). This pre-training meal should contain quality carbohydrates and protein, and can also contain a small amount of healthy fats. A grilled chicken breast with quinoa and some olive oil dressing is a decent option. Post-training nutrition is similar but instead of the fats you can add in a bit more carbohydrate. This is the window where if you have a “go to” carbohydrate source that is not the healthiest (Maple and Brown Sugar Frosted Shredded Wheat anyone?…or just me!), you can throw it in as your body is primed to use the extra sugar…just don’t overdue it.

 

 A favorite cheat or post training meal/snack…try warming the milk first, especially in the winter!

 

So there you have it, a few considerations you can take into account in order to further enhance the effectiveness of your training session and results.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. What do you think and any other tips…leave a comment below!

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