November 17, 2016


Variation and preparation key to a successful training plan

IT’S ALL WELL and good having the right information available when it comes to nutrition and exercise but many people struggle with actually putting it all together to plan an effective week of training.

People often ask me how often they should be training, and in my opinion three-five times per week is a good target to set yourself.

This does not mean four visits to the same squat rack for the same amount of reps with relatively similar loads, doing the same run three times per week, or doing the same spin or yoga class over and over again.

The best approach to being well rounded in your fitness includes having a structure in place which will cover everything you need to work on.

Vary your training and keep it relative to your goal. Constantly repeating similar sessions may not necessarily be getting you closer to your target.

Try the below approach to help you structure your training week a little better.


I generally recommend people look after their body for at least 15 minutes every day.

This could be anything from meditating every morning to getting up off your desk at work and stretching your glutes, hip flexors or hamstrings for five minutes every couple of hours.

I would also suggest bringing mobility drills in to your 10-15 minute warm-up or cool-down every time you exercise.

  • If you’re not too sure on how to warm up then you should watch this video.

On top of that, doing at least one hour a week of yoga is great for the body and mind.

If you look after these areas I guarantee it will transfer to other elements of your workouts, such as improving your squat or aiding your recovery from training sessions.

I have also found that yoga and mobility work can really help people when it comes to lower back pain.

Strength work/weight training/bodyweight drills

  • You can find the top 5 exercises you need in your gym programme here.

I would recommend doing two or three strength sessions per week. In these sessions I would focus on big, compound movements first and work from there.

One day you could set aside 20-25 minutes and focus on doing four or five sets of goblet or back squats and pairing these up with some ring rows or negative chin-ups, before finishing the set of three exercises with pallof presses.

Another day you could choose a different compound movement and perhaps look at deadlifts, pairing that with single-arm presses or push-ups, and topping that off with some hollow holds.

Aim to keep your reps relatively low and moderate-to-heavy relative to your strength levels.

On top of that I would have another session or part-session doing general hypertrophy work.

For this, you should aim to work on the smaller muscle groups such as your lats, biceps, triceps, legs in isolation, core and glute work. The reps can go a little higher here; you should aim for 12-15 per set.

Conditioning work

This area of the workout feels like the most important part as it is generally the part of your session where your heart-rate goes a little higher, your face becomes a little redder and it can often feel like quite a struggle.

A lot of the time this doesn’t need to be your primary focus despite it often being the priority for people in mainstream gyms.

I always encourage people to focus on mobility and strength first while every now and then getting their heart-rate up with conditioning work.

Go by how you feel on the day — there will be times you feel great and have lots of energy and this is where I would suggest you look at doing some anaerobic/HIIT style conditioning work.

This could be anything from 8-12 minutes long and may involve running intervals, hill sprints, kettlebell swings, box jumps, rowing, push-ups, ring rows, or even the dreaded burpees.

Try and put a relatively smart structure to your workout here with the exercises you choose, the reps you do and the amount of time you spend on the overall session.

Ideally you should choose two-four exercises in this workout and work around them.

There is no need to bring in loads of reps — as always, never let the intensity take over too much that it affects your technique.

I tend to bring these type of workouts in after strength work and if on the day you’re feeling a little sluggish then this is where I would suggest a few different things instead.

You could work on extra mobility work, core work or skill work.

Another session I’d recommend for a different day at least once a week would be aerobic/LSD work.

Give yourself 60 minutes and aim to keep your heart-rate between 120 and 140 beats per minute. It could be a light jog, trail run, cycle, swim or yoga class.


Mix up your training as much as you can.

  • At least 15 minutes of mobility/stretching/meditation daily
  • Heavy strength work, bodyweight drills and hypertrophy work between two and four times per week
  • At least two high-intensity, weekly sessions
  • At least one 60-minute, easy/moderate session a week
  • At least one weekly session of easy/light active recovery
  • An 80/20 approach when it comes to your nutrition
  • Recover well. Sleep, stretch, meditate, eat the right foods and drink water
  • Listen to your body on how you should approach your session
  • Keep a training log

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below. You can also get more advice on my social media pages, which are also linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.