Getting maximum value from your workouts is something that all of us want to do. We bust our butts in the gym and would like to believe that all thats work is getting us what we want.
Over several decades of my own training and coaching plus watching others in the gym, I have come to think of workouts as an “investment”. As a sensible person, you want the “highest return on your investment” (ROI) that you can get.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can get the highest “ROI” on your workouts.
The most obvious is that you go to the training session with a plan. You are going to do “x” with the idea that this will idea that it will move you along toward your goals.
Amazingly enough, some people have no plan at all. They do a workout with what the late John Houseman referred to as “a skull full of mush”. This consists of flopping and thrashing through a bunch of random exercises.
As powerlifting legend Bull Stewart said, “If you have no plan, your plan is to fail”.
Assume you go with a plan, insuring you get value from your work will mean that you treat your energy reserves as if they were a scarce resource. That means you put your energy into focused work on exercises that will build your strength.
You specifically avoid doing “junk” exercises. These are movements that don’t do anything to bring you closer to your goal, but they do burn up your scarce energy resources.
What is a “junk” exercise? Basically things like “an extra set because that last set was light” or “maybe I’ll try to do (fill in the blank) because I feel good today”.
Adding extra volume means that you burned up some of your reserve on movements that were of no real value to reaching your goals.
It is also possible to do exercises that have a negative impact on reaching your goals. These will actually take you further from where you want to go.
A common example of this is working too close to your 1 rep max on a regular basis. Your progress stalls, and over time you get worse.
Closely related, is the practice of doing an exercise with weights that are too heavy for you to do the movement properly. Weights that are too heavy will usually distort your technique (eg. don’t do a full range of motion) and occasionally cause an injury. Not what you want.
The bottom line for those of us who enjoy “lifting heavy stuff” is to begin with a plan for what you want to accomplish, and then follow the plan. It is OK to experiment, or try something new, but it should not retard your progress toward your main goals.
Like the late Wilt Chamberlain said, “the objective is to win the game,not the workout”.