Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Training Under a Time Constraint

What a perfect world it would be if our lives revolved around our hobbies, specifically that of our athletic and physical development. Unfortunately, this world is not perfect, and life does not always revolve around what we want to do, and often times our training and diet suffers because of this.

Unless you’re an athlete getting paid for your time in the gym, on the golf course, or on the tennis court, time management is stupendously important to us, especially for those of us that consider ourselves recreational bodybuilders or athletes, as we require more from ourselves than merely a workout when it’s convenient.

But let’s drop the negativity. Work, school, kids, or whatever is preventing you from training on a consistent basis can be easily worked around, and let’s face it, when you put it into perspective with the aforementioned reasons for the time constraint, to the recreational athlete, those three really should come first.
I want to take a moment to focus on the training aspect. – So how do we consistently train under a time constraint? Train less! – Okay, so it’s not really that simple, but hear me out…

I understand that most of those reading this are bodybuilders, and it’s very possible that your training routine is based around a 4-6x/wk training split, and you’ve come to the realization that spending eight or more hours in the gym every week just isn’t possible with your current schedule. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to spend those eight hours in the gym every week.

Through years of training, I’ve discovered the key to a successful bodybuilding routine… anything and everything! Over all other rules, consistency is the key to our training. It doesn’t matter what type of training routine that you’re doing, as long as you’re doing it, and you’re giving it your all.

What I’m getting at is that less training does not necessarily equate to less results, quite often the opposite is the case. I’ve made some of my best gains on 3x/wk training splits, spending no more than four hours in the gym each week, and I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have four hours to spare over the period of a week.

Let’s step outside the box for a moment and consider some viable training alternatives that are not only fun, new, and exciting to most bodybuilders, but yield great results in a short period of time…

Complex Exercises

My favorite method to speed up training is to incorporate what are called complex exercises. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just another name for compound exercises, as they are very different. Compound exercises are merely a single exercise that incorporates multiple body parts and joint movement in each repetition. Complex exercises, however, are multiple exercises within each repetition that result in working multiple body parts in a more direct manner than compound exercises.

Complex exercises are not set in stone. There is no specific movement that must be done; however, for obvious reasons, it is imperative to keep the movement fluid.

An example of this would be performing a DB curl, immediately followed by a Standing Arnold Press, and returning to the starting position. – In steps: (1) Positive curl movement, (2) Positive Arnold Press, (3) Negative Arnold Press, bringing elbows to your sides, and finally the (4) negative curl movement, repeat.

Another example would be performing a Barbell shrug, immediately followed by an Upright Barbell Row. – In steps: (1) Positive shrug, (2) negative shrug, (3) positive upright row, (4) negative upright row, repeat.

Full Body Training

Full-body workouts are another way to increase the speed of a workout without taking away from its effectiveness. Obviously a high volume routine is out of the question, or else you’d be in the gym for hours with no end in sight. Additionally, it would also be quite counterproductive as our bodies CNS can in no way handle a brutal, full-body beating multiple times each week.

When performing full-body splits, it’s important to get yourself in the mentality that more is not always better. In full-body training, we’re really trying to focus more on set-intensity; you’ve heard the term quality over quantity, right? Well, this is where that really plays out.

I recommend performing supersets (two exercises performed one right after the other, with a short rest in between) during this type of training, although trisets are not out of the question.

Training could range from 3 sets up to 8 sets per body part, but I recommend a total of 6 sets per body part; 1 full warm-up set, 1 partial warm-up set, and 4 working sets. – There will be two workouts each week, each involving different exercises. Starting body parts will be rotated each week.

What’s a full warm-up set? – The purpose of this type of set is merely to gain blood-flow to the muscle being worked. This set should not induce pain of any kind, nor should it be difficult to perform. A short, 30second muscle stretch should be performed after this set.

What’s a partial warm-up set? – The purpose of this set is to continue gaining blood flow to the muscle; however, it is a set itself, just in a higher rep rage (12 to 16). It SHOULD be positively painful towards the end, and you SHOULD struggle to achieve the required reps.

What’s a working set? – A working set is a true raw set; no pain, no gain. This is where the real work is done, the muscle fibers are recruited, and the muscle is broken down. These are the sets where you really need to give it your all. The rep range should be between 4 and 12.

An example routine:

Day 1

BB Back Squats + Upright BB Rows
Weighted Pull-ups + Close Grip Bench Press
BB Curl + Incline DB Press
Seated Calf Raise + DB Shrugs (Routines here may differ)

Day 2

T-bar Row + Overhead DB Extension
Pinwheel Curls + DB Pullover
DB Lunges + Military Press
Donkey Calf Raise + BB Shrugs (Routines here may differ)

*Day 3 - Optional

*If three workouts per week suit you better, you may break the workout up to cater to your schedule. This would allow you to decrease the total sets per body part each workout, due to your training frequency being higher.

Rest-Pause Sets

Another way to increase your workout speed is by introducing rest-pause sets to your routine. Rest-pause sets are essentially what I would call “never-ending sets.” Most people, unless they train using DC methods (and that’s a discussion for an entirely different column), count the rest period by time. I, however, count my rest periods by the number of breaths taken. It’s important to focus on your breathing pattern during a rest-pause set as it allows for increased production of ATP, thus giving you greater energy for the set to come.

An example of a rest-pause set…

Begin your exercise and complete until failure, take 10 deep breaths, continue the set until failure, take 10 deep breaths, continue the set until failure, take 10 deep breaths, continue the set until failure…and you’re done! You’ve just completed one rest-pause set, equating to four working sets.

Let’s say you’re doing DB Lateral Raises. Your log book should reflect something like this…

DB Lateral Raise; RP: 12 reps + 8 + 7 + 5 = a total of 32 repetitions. (Just a general idea)

Supplement Options for the Energy-deprived

LG Sciences offers a great line of supplements to fuel your workouts as well as your work week. Those of us on time-constraints are usually the same ones that are sleep-deprived, resulting in a lack of performance and energy in the gym. These supplements will help you meet the demands your workouts require, even if your sleep has been less than optimal:

LG Sciences E-911 (sublingual stimulant) – My personal favorite energy support product!
LG Sciences Speed V2 (fat-loss and energy capsule)
LG Sciences Anadraulic Pump (pre-workout nitric oxide enhancer, pump product, and focus support)

Soon to be released…

LG Sciences Anadraulic State GT (pre-workout energy enhancement, insulin potentiator, creatine complex, aromatase inhibitor, and pSARM complex)

End of the Line

These are just some ideas to help you fit your workout in to a smaller space on your day planner. I’ve personally dealt with this issue throughout my entire history of training due to school stresses; i.e. exams, papers, projects, etc. – I can surely relate to the time constraints put on our lives by the demands of the world.

None of the methods provided are strict. The best workout is the one that works for you, so feel free to add your own twists to the methods I provided. – Also, keep in mind that there is a plethora of time-reducing routines, including workouts involving kettlebells, agility drills, endurance exercises and the like. They’re all great, and as a bodybuilder don’t fall into the mentality that you’re above them. They’re ALL great for muscle growth regardless of what “that guy in the gym” may tell you.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you on full body being the best for the time shortened people. I also have seen this produce the best results for my body compared to the body part split idea.

    Full body seems to give people the more athletic look they want rather than the body builder look that most begining lifters aren't into.