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Saturday August 18, 2018

The Perfect Workout

Written by Blake Selby
How to have The Perfect WorkoutThe Perfect Workout

by Blake Selby, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer

I used to wonder if I could formulate a workout training system that would yield “perfect” results. The truth is that no matter which system or style of training you use, you are always going to have to adapt to your body’s uniqueness. In this article you will learn how to increase efficiency in your workouts while decreasing the risk of injury.

Body Builds

I’m not talking about endo/ecto/meso-morphic body types here, what I am talking about is your frame. Obviously someone with short arms relative to their body is going to have an easier time with the bench press because of the decreased range of motion. Your frame will also give advantages to certain muscle groups and disadvantages to others both in strength and visibility. For example, I have a very narrow shoulder girdle, this causes my shoulders to visibly appear smaller, and my lats to visibly appear larger relative to my body although they would be proportional on someone with a slightly wider structure. Look also at your bone structure. Compare your wrist size with that of a few of your buddies who look like they work out. If time after time you have a smaller wrist, you are probably not cut out for heavy lifting. By heavy, I mean explosive compound movements that place a high amount of weight and therefore stress on the joints. You do however have a unique advantage on a bodybuilding stage because smaller joints give the illusion that your muscles are larger than they actually are because they are larger in ratio relative to your body than a thicker-jointed guy standing next to you. It also helps give an aesthetic appearance. For the smaller jointed individual, to avoid risk of injury, isolation movements tend to work best. For example, for chest, you may do something of this nature: Incline Smith Bench Press, Dip Machine, and Dumbbell Flyes. Notice that you are avoiding some of the more stressful chest compound movements. In contrast, if you have thicker joints, your body is gifted in that you will have a much better time with heavy lifting. Be sure and take into consideration that everything has limits, and allowing form to get too sloppy will increase risk of injury for everyone. Getting 100 more pounds on your squat is great, but if you tear a patellar tendon in the process, you have really done yourself more of a disservice.

When I ask most people in the gym what they do on a back workout, I usually get something to this extent: 2-3 pulldown movements, 2-3 rowing movements. Ok... I see balance, but the body responds to exercise much differently than one would think looking at the workout drawn out on paper. After 3 pulldown movements my lats and lower traps are completely spent along with my biceps and forearms. After being taken to complete glycogen depletion and muscular failure, how then could one proceed to work the same muscle for another torturous 3 exercises with 100% intensity? Simple... they DONT! Some sets are half-way because bodybuilders tend to think they NEED to do certain exercises every back workout or they wont grow. I have taken some of my clients who happened to be experienced bodybuilders and set them up on 1 pulldown exercise and 1 rowing exercise, and with the help of some intensity techniques (i.e. dropsets, repout sets, negatives, rest pauses), their backs are completely spent from the two main angles and glycogen depletion is lessened, decreasing the risk of injury and recovery time, so that they can hit some new angles 72hrs later rather than waiting the traditional week.

Before every exercise, you should ask yourself what you are looking for aesthetically, and then ask yourself if the exercise you are about to do would be a good vehicle for accomplishing that. For example, I look in the mirror every day and notice that I would like a larger upper chest relative to the rest of my chest. This seems to be a commonality among bodybuilders because many believe that in order for proper chest growth, you must start or incorporate barbell flat bench press somewhere into the workout. I couldnt tell you the last time I did that exercise, and I have seen the best chest gains in my life without it. Not that it is an incorrect exercise, but it does have a high risk of injury. There is no magic exercise, or exercise staple. As long as you bring the muscle to failure, and vary the angle every so often, you are initiating muscle hypertrophy and skeletal muscle protein assimilation. As a rule of thumb, try to remember that in bodybuilding there is seldom wrong or right ways to go about things, there is instead more efficient and less efficient.


Related Article: Maximum Muscle Workout

Sets/Reps is another thing that needs to be considered when workout out. At the gym I often hear people talking about golden rep ranges, and rep numbers, and things of this sort. Some people say higher reps for legs, other people say low reps for everything. The funny thing about it is that every rep range has it’s advantages. 15reps is going to facilitate a “pump” by increasing blood flow to the area, and give joints a break from the heavier weights. Anything in between is going to have both advantages to a lesser degree. Of course these numbers are not set in stone, they are probably close, but they are a good starting point. I could not imagine a bodybuilding workout without a good pump and also without a few heavy sets. The truth is that you should take advantage of all the rep ranges, and when you are doing cardio, believe it or not you are still in a rep range. >10000 reps when you are doing the stepmill or treadmill is facilitating increased cardiovascular endurance and blood circulation. To give you a possible idea of what to do, my exercises generally go something like this:

20-30 rep warm up set

12-15 rep set

8-12 rep set

15-20 rep set

Why do I do this in particular? There are a few reasons... number one, the obvious warm up set. This is allowing blood flow to get into a muscle group that is about to experience heavy poundage’s. This is important so that the muscle is warm and has greater flexibility to prevent injury. The 12-15 rep set is playing on the higher rep range, allowing me to facilitate a pump without complete glycogen depletion. The 8-12 rep set allows me to take advantage of strength, recruiting more fast twitch fibers which are larger in size and increase the number of muscle fibers recruited by motor neurons. The last set I call a “blood flow” set, because I am essentially playing again on the higher rep range, but this time I am going till failure in contrast to the lighter warm up set. This helps me to carry my pump on to the next exercise without having to do another warm up set for it. I don’t do this every time, I always vary it as my body tells me what it needs. If I am pumped after my 8-12 rep set, guess what I’m NOT doing next? The “blood flow set” because although I have that on paper, it isn’t needed and is most likely going to detract from my next exercise. Now you can make your own system that works for your body frame. Because I have smaller joints, I have chosen to stay out of the “heavy range”, because I have suffered injuries while using the most strict form possible doing heavy poundage’s. I have swallowed my pride and I do what my body allows.


This is something that needs to be considered about an hour before your workout begins. Contract the muscles you are going to work an hour later. If I am going to work my legs, I might do a squat, and if I feel weak in the lower back area, I might stick to more isolation that day. It’s all about instinctive training. After you have figured out what types of exercises you are going to do, run though the workout in your head but do not set it in stone. Adapt if you aren’t feeling an exercise. Usually you will know after your first set if it’s going to be good that day or not. If you’re not feeling it, chances are your body wont respond to it or you need to clean up form. If form is clean, then you need to just walk away from it and go to something else you think you will feel. Try working out with motivational music as well. You might not know it, but music can bring out intensity in you. If you find yourself unmotivated, you may want to find a workout partner who seems more motivated than you. This can be a hindrance if you start competing for weight though, because no matter what, their body will be different than you and you will grow at different rates and take different amounts of stress.


Do what you feel, do what you find enjoyable, and remember that the definition of a successful workout is: You brought the muscle to failure, you had fun doing so, and you avoided injury. I hope you break the mold and never hold to someone else’s “perfect” system, to achieve the perfect workout.

Thanks for reading!

Blake Selby This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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