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The Fit 5: Workout Program Design 101

Fat loss or muscle-building. Our fitness expert answers your questions about building an effective workout program.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink, C.S.C.S, Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC and founder of TrinkFitness, answers your questions about putting together your own workout programs. 

1) Fat Loss Exercises— asked by Tom Klein:

What’s the best type of training program to follow if I’m looking to lose fat?

“As a general rule, you want a program that focuses on exercises which use large muscles (which will burn more calories, drive up metabolism and maintain muscle mass) and utilizes short rest periods (in order to increase cardiac demand). Our “Get Lean in 4 Weeks” plan is a great example of this type of programming. However, your nutrition program is just as, if not more, important than your training program, particularly in a fat loss phase. So say goodbye to those processed foods if you want to say hello to your abs.”

2) CrossFit for Life— asked by Jon Ferron:

I’ve heard CrossFit workouts will get you in sick shape. I’ve also heard that they’re a bit risky. What’s the real deal with CrossFit?

 

"CrossFit workouts have certainly become immensely popular in the last few years. And when a workout trend blows up you can be certain that everyone is going to have something to say about it. I think CrossFit does a lot of things well including prioritizing big, valuable lifts such as cleans, deadlifts, presses and squats. The workouts also get you out of your comfort zone by pushing you to train at a much higher intensity than you are probably used to. They’ve also done a great job of developing a tight knit exercise community of loyal followers who support each other both inside and outside of the gym (which, in my opinion, might be their best trait). However, when you combine high intensity of effort with demanding exercises you certainly drive up risk for injury. And with so many CrossFit boxes opening so quickly you are not assured to get a quality coach who will progress you properly based on your abilities. So, as with everything, be smart and understand your own capabilities. Remember, you’re never going to get into great shape if you’re always banged up. So find a workout that allows you to stay healthy and injury free."

3) Split Routines for Size— asked by Larry Cosgrove:

What are the best body part splits to help me put on some size?

"Body part splits are great for putting on mass as they allow for the key factors required for building muscle, namely volume, variety and recovery. Since you are usually training each body part once per week, you can blast each muscle group with a lot of work and various movements all while giving yourself plenty of rest before you trash that muscle group again. There’s no shortage of body part splits that will work. My two favorites are either a 3-day legs, arms/shoulders, chest/back split or a 4-day back/triceps, chest/biceps, quads/hamstrings, shoulders/calves/abs split."

4) Rest Periods vs. Weight— asked by Nicolas Jergen:

I’m following a circuit training routine that has short rest periods. Problem is, the short rest doesn’t allow me to use as much weight as I usually use. So, what’s more important, keeping the rest periods or the weight?

"As with everything in the world of strength training, it all depends on your goals. I’m going to assume that, since you are following a circuit routine, you are going after fat loss. If that’s the case, adhering to the rest period is more important than the weight being used. If, however, you are looking to get bigger or stronger, ditch the super-short rest intervals and prioritize the weight. In fact, if strength or size are your main goal, ditch the circuits all together. There are smart ways to reach those goals."

5) Changing Routines— asked by Graham McMilhern:

I’ve been following a body part split (back/bi’s, chest/tri’s, etc.) for a while and think I’m ready for something new. What would you recommend?

“I think a good, and often underused, training scheme is an upper body, lower body split. Training this way will allow you to get in more big, compound lifts with each workout, give you a solid amount of volume and can be a great transition program if you ultimately want to tackle a total body program down the line. I like to go with two upper body and two lower body days each week."

 

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