Monday – legs
Tuesday – chest
Wednesday – bi/tri
Thursday – back
Friday – shoulders
I see a lot of people follow lifting schedules like this – they lift to work one muscle group each day of the week. I used to follow this type of schedule too. You will maybe get some results doing this, but there’s an incredibly more efficient way to get better results in the weight room.
Why is lifting like this a bad decision?
Overtraining is real. It's a common misconception that to get really strong in a certain muscle group, you need to lift the hell out of it. However, that thought process is misguided and a surefire way to arrive at an injury.
Of course, you need to work the muscles you want to gain strength in. But If you go to the gym and complete 7-10 lifts targeting the same muscle group, you’re probably doing more harm than good. And good luck using that muscle group in your everyday activities the following week. The goal of lifting weights is to get better at your abilities, skills, and activities, not to make them more difficult to do.
I’m not saying soreness is a bad because it's not. I think feeling a little sore a few days after a lift is good. It means you’re pushing your body past its limits, which is required for improvement. But there’s a difference between feeling sore and barely being able to walk.
2. It’s boring
In my personal experience, it’s increasingly harder to focus with each successive exercise I do during a lifting session that emphasizes one muscle group. It’s difficult to maintain max focus when you’re doing a slight variation of the same lift over and over again. As early as the second or third lift, you find yourself rushing through exercises because you’re eager to move on to the next one.
3. It’s inefficient
Think about this – If you devote one day to each main muscle group, that’s about five days a week of lifting weights.
When will you do other types of training? It’s time inefficient to focus on one muscle group per lifting session. You cheat yourself out of becoming the best athlete possible because you can’t do other types of training. More on this later
So, what do I think is the most effective way to lift?
I live by functional exercises. Functional exercises, according to mayclinic.org, “train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.”
Have you ever seen a CrossFit athlete (proven effectiveness of functional training) without a shirt on? They’re SHREDDED.
This is why I believe functional exercises are the best.
1. They’re efficient (muscle groups).
You can target more than one muscle group in a single exercise. For example, in a single front squat your shoulders work to keep the bar up, abs engage to stay upright, lower back fires to keep it arched with your chest out, and legs flex to lower up and down. On top this, front squats require balance to properly distribute your weight and keep good form. If the old saying “kill two birds with one stone” ever applies to fitness, it’s with functional exercises.
2. They’re efficient (time)
Since functional exercises work many muscle groups at once, you can spend less time lifting weights. There’s no need to, and you probably shouldn’t lift 5-6 days per week. With functional exercises, you can train every muscle group with 1-3 lifts per week, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your fitness.
Lifting is incredible. It's always part of my routine -- but that’s all it is -- a part of my routine. Lifting must be supplemented with other types of exercise. You need to be versatile. Cardio, stretching, sprints, HIIT, core, etc. are all essential to becoming the best athlete possible. With Functional exercises, it’s possible to complete all the training you need during your week.
3. They’re fun
Functional exercises are monumentally more exciting than monotonous ones that target one muscle group, such as machien exercises.
To start with, your weight lifting sessions can consist of 2-4 exercises instead of 7-10. This lets you take your time and increase your focus on the lifts you have planned. There’s no need to rush from one lift to another when you only have a handful to do. If you're worried getting in fewer reps, simply do more sets.
More importantly, there’s incredible satisfaction in improving your squat, deadlift, power clean, etc. numbers as opposed to improving your numbers on a machine lift (which usually targets one muscle group), such as a leg curl.
Functional exercises require skill and focus – they demand balance and technique. You must practice to become good at them. Contrarily, machine exercises require no skill. The movement is predetermined for you – force is all you bring to the table.
Straight bar/dumb bell military press versus machine military press exemplifies this. Machine military press mainly targets your shoulders and requires only a push. But straight bar/dumb bell military press requires focus and balance to raise the bar straight up and down and also engages your core and grip strength as well as your shoulders.
I’m not saying I never do movements or machines that target 1-2 muscle groups (I’ll never give up my arm farms), but 90% of the lifts I do are functional exercises.
Simply put, functional exercises bring more to the table. They improve your body more, do so in a more time efficient manner, and deliver more satisfaction.
Like I said earlier, functional exercises are more difficult to do. If you’re confused, go to Google and conduct some research. The internet is an incredible resource. USE IT!
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Tune in again next week to check out the third and final part of my dreams series.
your friendly blogger,