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Chosing the right routine.

Well done! You’ve made the decision to start training. But what are you going to do and how are you going to do it? In this article I’m going to give you the Top 3 requests we get at Dave’s Gym for training programs and, because I love you, I’ll also include a sample workout for each one.

I wanna lose weight.

Far and away the number 1 request we get at Dave’s Gym is Weight Loss. It also highlights one of the many differences that we get between male and female clientele. Ladies, as a sweeping generalisation, ask for “weight loss”. Where on the other hand guys want “fat loss” or a “six-pack”.

Ladies, I’m afraid to say, the boys have got the correct mind set on this (and probably only this) occasion. There is a worldwide obsession with weight loss. From Weightwatchers bung it in the microwave lasagna to “how to lose 5 pounds in 5 days” articles in magazines there is a tsunami of weight loss propaganda in the media.

 What you really, really need to realise is that being healthy and looking good has absolutely nothing to do with your weight. Nothing whatsoever. What is important for your health, general well being, longevity and appearance is having a safe low amount of body fat.

How to achieve and maintain a low percentage of body fat is as much to do with your diet as it is the training regime you follow. But as this article is about the training aspect of fat loss we’ll save the diet chat for another time. What I will say on the subject of nutrition is this;

  •  eat 3 main meals per day,
  •  have 2 small snacks in between meals,
  •  each meal and snack must contain protein,
  •  don’t each much in the way of carbs, and when you do eat carbs try to stick mainly to the holy trinity of oats, sweet potato and brown rice,
  • take some good quality fish oils,
  • eat plenty of fruit and veg,
  • to replace the energy that you’ll miss out on with being on diminished carbs use nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocados and extra virgin olive oil instead,
  • drink plenty of water.

And ladies as a rule most guys prefer this:

To this:

    The routine

    Warm up – 5 Min’s cycle or run gradually making it harder. Followed with a bunch of body weight style exercises.

    Superset #1 – Standing dumbbell press done one arm at a time followed with Goblet squats. Do 4 sets of 8 reps on each with no rest between the exercises and only 30 seconds rest between supersets.

    Cardio #1 – Run, walk, crawl or lurch 500m on a treadmill set at a 5% incline.

    Superset #2 – Dips followed by Chin-ups. What you have to do here is 50 reps on each one in total. Just change from one exercise to another every time you crash and burn. It doesn’t matter if it takes you 2 sets or 20.

    Cardio #2 – Same as cardio #1.

    Superset #3 – Front squat and Press up ladder. Do 1 front squat and 1 press up. Now do 2 front squats and 2 press ups. Then keep adding 1 rep to the total of each exercise until you get to 10 reps on each.

    Cardio #3 – Same as cardio #1.

    If you are still able to blink without assistance at this point in the proceedings then you could always sit on a bike for an extra 10-15 mins of fat burning if you wish . . . but you don’t have to.

    I wanna tone up my arms and legs a bit.

    If there was ever a phrase or collection of words that can drive even the mildest of gym instructors to a blind homicidal rage more then “tone up” then I know not what they are. Every time I hear them, a part of me dies a slow, agonising, choking death.

    I want to be crystal clear on this, so listen very carefully – THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TONING UP. Really.

    I want you to open a new tab on your computer and do a google image search for “toned female legs”. Just be warned that unless you have your filters set to kill, or a broad mind, you might be in for a shock. Choose a pair of legs you like the look of and have a good long look at them. Now I can’t pretend to know what sort of look gets your juices flowing but I’ll be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that you can see the shape of the muscle under the skin. Maybe not much – but certainly a hint of definition. You’re looking at those legs and thinking “My my, now those are one pair of nicely toned wheels.”

    Well, what makes them appear toned is the combination of two different things; 1) the muscle. 2) body fat low enough to be able to see the muscle. If one or both of these things are missing then what you are left with is a shapeless tube of flesh.

    You can’t tone muscle. You can make it bigger, smaller, stronger and more useful but you can’t tone it. You also can’t spot reduce certain pockets of fat, but miraculously leave others intact. When you burn fat it’s taken from everywhere at the same time. Doing endless crunchies will not get rid of your muffin top or love handles.

    So how do you tone up? In a way it’s not too dissimilar to the previous weight loss program. Build a little muscle, burn a little fat.

    The routine.

    Warm up – 5 mins cycle or run gradually making it harder. Followed with a bunch of body weight style exercises.

    Giant set #1 – Dumbbell clean and press, lunges with the same dumbbells held overhead, bent over row still with the same dumbbells, press ups, kettlebell swings. Do 5 reps on the dumbbell exercises and don’t be scared of going quite heavy. On the press ups and kettle bells do 20 reps. Rest 1 minute after each circuit and do 3-5 circuits.

    Row 1km

    Giant set #2 – Load up a barbell and do 5 bent over rows, 5 military press, 5 front squats, 10 deadlifts and 10 press ups with your hands still on the bar. Rest 1 minute and do 3-5 circuits.

    Run 1km

    I wanna get hoooge.

    I wanna get hoooge! The battle cry of skinny 16 year olds the world over. I’m not mocking anyone here or having a go. I was one of those 16 year olds up until about a year ago. No, I’m not 17 – I’m 112, but the desire to get bigger muscles has been with me for as long as I’ve been under the bar. Mine is the same story as about 50 million other wannabe gym titans. In the beginning there was the word and the word was Schwartzenegger.

    To say I was obsessed would have been a gross understatement. I have whole chapters of his weighty tome “The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding” tattooed on my buttocks. Every word was absorbed. Every photo scrutinised. Every routine diligently followed. The results? Nitch, nil, zero, zip, nada.

    It turns out, much to my eternal shame, that I’m not Arnie. Nor do I have his genetics. Nor his will full single-mindedness. Nor his usage of certain performance enhancing pharmaceuticals. Training twice a day, 6 days per week for 2 hours each time would only ever result in my early death. What I needed was something a little more basic and achievable.

    The universe is vast and complex and infinite in it’s many mysteries, but a truth that you can always bank on is that you will always find what your looking for when you stop actually searching for it. So after many fruitless years of following training routines that gave little or no results no matter how exactly stuck to I stumbled across the answer by complete accident.

    I was working in Libya, for an oil company, in the middle of the Sahara desert. There was no state of the art, fully equipped gym close to hand. Hell, the nearest town was 500km away. We worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week in 50 degrees Celsius of sledgehammer heat. The only gym equipment was an Olympic bar and a set of rickety squat stands. I could only summon up the energy to train twice, sometimes 3 times a week, and only did about 30-40mins of basic barbell lifting. Squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, cleans, chin ups on the door frame, dips between some drilling pipe racks and that was about it.

    I remember upon first looking at the lone bar, the collection of battered plates, the volcanically hot little metal container they were stored in and thinking “Christ, there is no way I’ll be able to train properly in this shit-hole.”

    And so for 6 long, hot, exhausting weeks I worked like a dog and forced my way through basic workouts and, much to my complete and utter amazement, grew like a weed. It was a revelation. I was stronger, bigger, in better shape and more cut then I had ever been in my life.

    Training less often, with less manic intensity and more focus on basic barbell training has been proven to me, time and time again, as the single most effective method of increasing strength and getting more muscular.

    The routine

    Day one.

    Warm up – 5 mins cycle or run gradually making it harder. Followed with a bunch of body weight style exercises.

     Squat – 3-5 warm up/technique sets. 3 working sets of 5 reps. Done with a low bar and a wide stance.

    Bench press – as above.

    Deadlift – as above.

    Day two.

    Warm up – 5 mins cycle or run gradually making it harder. Followed with a bunch of body weight style exercises.

    Front Squat – 3-5 warm up/technique sets. 3 working sets of 5 reps.

    Overhead press – as above.

    Power clean – as above.

    Day three

    Warm up – 5 mins cycle or run gradually making it harder. Followed with a bunch of body weight style exercises.

     Squat – 3-5 warm up/technique sets. 3 working sets of 5 reps. Done with a high bar and a shoulder width stance.

    Dips – as above but 10 reps.

    Chin ups – as above but 10 reps.

    If you absolutely have to do anything else then you could include some bent over rows, more chins/dips or some good mornings. If you do keep the reps quite high (10-15) and try not to spend more then an hour in the gym in any session. Feel free to chuck in some short but brutal conditioning work on your days of but try to keep it under 20 mins. Eat LOADS, rest loads and grow like a baby whale.

    Dave Carter.

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