How do you put together a gym training plan?

How do you put together a gym training plan? Having a plan of action is important for your progression. You can set yourself targets and goals to work towards. Whether it be in the gym or out on the field running, having some data to work with means you can see growth, but more importantly manage training volume and intensity around your matches and type of training. 

In this blog post you get tips about a gym plan for referees from Martin, he’s a physical performance coach based in the UK and you can find him as RefereeFit on Instagram.

Data to use at gym sessions

Out on the field we can use data such as time, distance, pace, changes of direction and heart rate to monitor training volume and intensity. 

In the gym the numbers that we look at are weight that you move, number of rep and number of sets. Together this can give you your volume (Weight moved x reps x sets = volume). This way you can keep track on your progression and know when to reduce and increase volume and/or intensity in certain blocks of training and when matches are more regular. 

We are going to look at putting together a well-structured gym program you can use as the basis of your training. 

In past blogs I’ve written about types of resistance training: power, strength, hypertrophy, and muscle endurance. Here we are going to look at putting together a structured full body gym program to use as the basis of your gym training. This will hit every major muscle group and keep you progressing. 

There are many ways to put together a program, upper, lower splits: push, pull split; compound, accessory split. There is no right or wrong answer. It all does depend on how many gym sessions you are doing a week, and this depends on where you are in the season and how many game a week you are officiating.  Most of us should be aiming to get to the gym twice a week during the season for a resistance training session. 

Putting together full body session

So, we are going to look at putting together a full body session that you can repeat twice a week. If you can only get to the gym once in each week then this template will still be great as we are aiming to hit every major muscle group.

Time is precious and there is no need to be spending hours in the gym. You want your time in the gym to be efficient, so, we are going to introduce ‘super sets.’

A super set is two exercises that you do back-to-back, with no rest. The benefit is time saved: with the no rest time between exercises the intensity of your session will increase. Doing an upper body followed by a lower body exercise, means that blood flows to different muscle groups, getting your circulatory system working. 

You can also use super set by using antagonistic muscle groups. These are muscles that do opposite actions, e.g., quadriceps and hamstrings. Or if you really want to push a muscle group use agonist superset, where you do two exercises to the same muscle group e.g., squats and leg extensions. 

Basic template for full body gym session

Here is our basic template for a full body gym session. 

A: Prime/Warm up. 5-10 minutes

Super set

B1: Main upper body push exercise 

B2: Main lower body pull exercise 

Super set

C1: Secondary upper body pull exercise 

C2: Secondary lower body push exercise 

Super set

D1: Upper body accessory exercise 

D2: Lower body accessory exercise 

E1: Finisher/ Extra. 

Template explanation

A: is a warmup: here you need to raise your heart rate to get blood flowing. 

B1 & B2 are complete back-to-back as a ‘super set’. We can focus on our main movement here with an upper push and lower body pull. 

C1 & C2 are also super sets. Here we have secondary movement but this time an upper pull and lower push. 

D1 & D1 (super sets). This is where we can add exercise to muscle groups that you need to work on. Perhaps you need a little more strengthening on certain muscles groups, or you have muscle groups that you want to push a little harder during your session. 

E: You’ve done your main session now this is a little finisher at the end to really get your heart rate up and muscles working.

Terms and examples of crossfit style workouts

Cross fit style workouts work well here. Examples of these include: 

AMRAP – As Many rounds as possible. Complete as many rounds of the exercise as you can in the given time. 

EMOM – Every Minute On the Minute. Perform a set number of reps of one to three exercises, every minute, on the minute for a certain amount of time. 

RTF – Rounds For Time – A set number of round to be complete as quick as possible. 

Ladder or Pyramid – One or more exercise, increasing and decreasing in reps e.g. Body weight squats into Push ups with working from 1 rep up to 10 then back down.  

Tabata – High intensity intervals followed by a short rest. E.g 20 seconds of hard work, 10 second rest for 8 rounds. 

These really get your lungs and muscles working at the end of a session and increase the overall intensity of your session. 

All we need to do now is add in the exercise to the program.  This could look like the two-example below.

Example 1

  • A: Rower for 10 minutes
  • B1: Dumbbell bench press
  • B2: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL)  
  • C1: Lat Pull Down
  • C2: Squats
  • D1: Single arm row
  • D2: Split squat
  • E: AMRAP (As Many Rounds as possible) 10, 6, 4-minute rounds. 
    • Kettle Bell swings x 10
    • Med Ball slams x 10 
    • Reverse crunch x 10

Example 2

  • A: Cross-trainer (elliptical) for 10 minutes
  • B1: Push ups
  • B2: Trap bar deadlift  
  • C1: Pull ups 
  • C2: Leg press
  • D1: Lat raises 
  • D2: Walking Lunges
  • E: RFT (Rounds for time) 10 rounds of:
    • 10 body weight squats
    • 300m row  
    • 10 push ups

These two examples would work fantastically as the basis of your program to do twice a week. 

All you need to do now is add reps, sets and rest time. Here is a quick recap of types of resistance training. 

Resistance type% One Rep MaxRepsSetsRest
Power 70-95%1-5 3-53-5 minutes
Strength80-95%1-73-52-3 minutes
Hypertrophy60-80%6-124-660-90 seconds
Endurance 40-60%12+2 or 330-60 seconds

From here you can build on the program and design a program based on your specific needs and goals. If you would like some advice about putting together as goal specific personalised program, then do not hesitate to drop me an email. 

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