How I Workout: Olympic Lifting vs. Volume Training

Everyone has a different way to go about working out.  There was a time when it didn’t matter what or how I worked out, the only thing that I cared about was whether the workout would get me big, strong and fast.  

Today, I don’t have to worry about performance. I just workout to look and feel good. Even though I’m after something different now (aesthetics) my workouts are still pretty similar to what I was doing when I was training for athleticism.

As a prior athlete, I did a lot of olympic style lifting like deadlifts, squats, presses, and cleans.  Today I still do this style of lifting because I believe it to be one of the most effective ways to promote muscle building.  In addition, it is very time efficient.  By doing a compound exercise like barbell squats, I am working my glutes, quads, abs, low back and other muscles all with just one movement.  And lastly, I like to look like an athlete.  I think athletes have “healthy” looking physiques.  Have you ever seen what the Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton looks like? He looks like superman. Compare this look to big and bulky body builders.  I not only find this look unnatural, but not very aesthetic.  

When I workout, I usually start with 4-7 working sets of an olympic lift.  For example, today I will be doing deadlifts.  I’ll start with a warm up set or two starting at 135 lbs. I’ll progress to sets consisting of 185, 225, 275, 295, and 315 lbs. For those sets my rep ranges usually start at the 8-10 range.  As the weight gets heavier, I will start to decrease the amount of reps.  For 275 lbs,  I’ll be doing 4-6 reps, and for the 315 lbs, I’ll probably do 1-4 reps.  

Olympic lifts are the foundation of each one of my workouts.  This is because I am working out a large muscle group and I’m getting the most bang for my buck in terms of time efficiency when I perform them.  

Once I’ve completed the olympic lifting portion of my workout I perform more isolated and targeted exercises.  For example, after squats I will do supersets of hamstring curls and lunges.  From there, I might do calf raises and some back raises.  And if I’m really feeling motivated I’ll end with some sort of HIIT session which could be anything from “dead tread” sprints on the treadmill to sprints on the row machine.  

My workouts aren’t very long.  If you take away the time to warm-up, my workouts can be completed in as little as 30 minutes.  I get in, and I get out. 

Now for beginners who have not developed much muscle mass yet, training volume is pretty important.  So you should be spending more time in the gym doing more reps, and more sets than someone like me who has been lifting for almost 2 decades now. 

The biggest problem that I see when it comes to beginners starting up a workout routine is consistency.  People don’t show up multiple times a week and put in the work.  They can have the best workout plan ever created; a plan that has been tailored specifically to your body type, but if the person doesn’t follow it where does it get them?

Thats why, at the end of the day, if you can develop the habit of working out you will be far better off with some super complex workout scheme.  Just practice showing up to the gym a couple times a week and the results will follow!

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