I love building functional fitness and strength training plans. It’s the bread and butter of what I do at Kelly Bryant Wellness. There’s a lot that goes into my programs, and a lot of things I consider. However, having someone else craft your workouts isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you want to do it yourself, and so today I thought I’d give you a peek behind the curtain at what you should consider when building your own strength training programs, including:
- The various types of strength training
- How to plan your year, your month and your week
- The foundational movements that should be in your individual workouts
- Some other helpful things that I like to include.
I reference Episode 32: Progress Your Progressive Overload Workouts
If you’re interested in my Strong As A Mother: Live Program, you can find it here: https://www.kellybryantwellness.com/strong-as-a-mother-live/
Welcome back to the not your mama podcast, this is your host Kelly Bryant. And this week we are going to be talking about workouts. Specifically, we’re going to be talking about strength training workouts. Now I’ve talked before on the podcast about progressive overload strength training. We’ll link up that episode if you want to learn more about that.
But today we’re going to be talking about the fact that you kinda need to have a plan if you’re going to be doing workouts. Obviously I have a program where I offer training plans, as well as accountability, but you might not feel like you want that, or you need that and you want to know how to work out effectively. So the biggest thing I want you to take away from this episode is that you do need to have a plan. I’ll give you a very quick synopsis of what a progressive overload strength training program is.
It basically is the science that shows your body needs to see a movement several times in order to actually get better at doing it. And so whatever goals you may have, whatever strength goals you may have, you actually do need to follow a plan that gets more challenging as you progress. And I’ll talk more about the specifics of how you create that, but the short version is you need to repeat your movement patterns week over week. You need to then progress week over week and month over month in order to actually get the benefit of strength training, whether that benefit is bigger muscles, more toned muscles losing weight, aesthetic goals, being able to lift right certain amount of weight, or being able to do a pull up, or being able to function, just, you know, carrying your kids, whatever goal you may have for resistance training.
You have to follow a progressive overload strength training in order to get that benefit. So a very common mistake that I see among new lifters and specifically women is you maybe join a new gym. You do that, like one-on-one the free one-on-one training session where they’re trying to sell you personal training and they give you a program to do that week.
And you’re like, okay, I know how to use these six machines. I’m going to do that program. Forever or you download something online. It’s like a workout program and you do that one week over and over again for the rest of your life. You will never get better that way because you’re not ever, your body gets more efficient at a movement pattern, the more you do it. So, what’s actually happening is you’re getting better, which sounds like a good thing. Say, you’re doing lunges. You’re getting better at doing lunges, but you’re not making them any more difficult. So what that means is you’re actually getting less and less and less benefit from doing those lunges. You have to challenge your body.
In order to see positive change. So if you’re just do the movements that you’re really efficient at and really good at already, you get less and less benefit from it. On the flip side. The other mistake that I see people make, particularly women, particularly new lifters is the group fitness approach where it’s different. Every single time you just kind of go in and you’re like, I don’t know what I feel like doing. I’m just going to like, do some bicep curls, and then I’ll do some stuff over here.
And you know, whether you’re actually doing it in a group fitness class, like a barre class, which is different every time or a yoga class, or just different every time, or you’re just going in the gym and kind of doing what you feel like. Either way you’re not progressing, right. You’re giving yourself variety, which is good for our muscles in a sense, but you’re not actually seeing those movement patterns frequently enough and with enough sort of like scientific progression week over week to actually objectively get any better at them. So, you do need to have a plan and you want that plan to involve progressive overload. I want to be clear that in today’s podcast, I’m talking about resistance training. So there’s also cardio training, which is a whole separate thing.
And that can be, you know, goal oriented where you’re training for an event and you have to build up the miles for example, to run a marathon or to bike a certain distance, or that can be cardio training. That’s just for cardiovascular benefit. That’s separate. A good program probably is going to integrate some amount of cardio to compliment your resistance training. You’re also going to have mobility training in there too.
That’s not what I’m talking about today. You can integrate cardio into any resistance plant and vice versa. Even if you’re training for a marathon, you do want to be integrating resistance training that is progressive in nature into your cardio plan.
So within the kind of umbrella category of resistance training, which just refers to using bands or a cable machine or your body weight, or dumbbells barbells weights, there are three sorts of levels or three sorts of types of programs. The first level is called stability. Your stability programming is not something that you want to be doing most likely forever, but it can be a really, really important introduction into training because it’s going to focus on things like balance, maybe addressing some of your postural habits and making sure that you can safely do the other lifts.
This is where a. Lot of our postpartum rehab falls under the category of stability training. Obviously, when we talk about, you know, older folks, you may be doing stability training indefinitely with an 80 year old, because they’re probably not going to be doing their, you know, their power lifts.
But stability training, if you are in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, even I would say sixties as well. I have lots of people in their sixties, not lots. I have several clients in their sixties who have progressed beyond stability training, but you want to be progressing beyond stability training, but it’s a very, very essential baseline.
If you’re new to training or new coming back from an injury or pregnancy. So you want to hit that stability training first again, that’s going to be a. A lot of balance stuff. It’s going to be a lot of your postural exercises, core work, things that allow you to function well in your day-to-day life.
Kind of the next step up level two, or really levels two through four, are strength training. And there’s within the umbrella of strength training, there’s three sort of types of strength, training, there’s endurance strength training. Those are going to be things where you’re doing higher rep counts, lighter weight, you are, as the name would suggest training your endurance training, your muscular stamina. It’s not the heaviest weight you can lift.
It’s lifting up moderate to lightweight for a long time or for many reps. Then you have hypertrophy training. Hypertrophy just means muscle growth. Most of my strength training programs focus on hypertrophy because I generally work with people, you know, we have that stability component within my postpartum programs. And then once you’ve graduated from that, I work with people who have aesthetic goals. A lot of the time who want to feel like they look like they lift, not that you’re, you know, jacked and looked like a bodybuilder, but you have muscle tone, visible muscle tone.
And so that’s where we get into the hypertrophy. And then the last level of strength training is your max strength. That’s your. You know, your big, heavy lifts where you see people lifting. Maybe only three to five reps, but they’re lifting really heavy. You know, a lot of us have seen videos or familiar with like the idea of Olympic weightlifting and Some of those big power lifts where you are not doing a ton of reps, but it’s a big, heavy weight that you’re lifting. That’s your max strength and max strength is important, even for someone with an endurance or a hypertrophy goal. We still need max strength. Right? That’s the like, The, the mother had mother’s baby is trapped under a car and you’re like, I want to be able to lift the car. I want to be able to pick up the 50 pound bag of concrete. I’ve been working on a fence project, and so there’s been a lot of carrying 50 pound bags of concrete and like having to break them up. Cause they all got a little wet and so they like solidified and I’m having to pick them up and slam them down and that, because they got wet they’re not 50 pound bags there. Now I have no idea. 60, 70, 80 pound bags. That’s max strength work. I’m not trying to do 10 reps of that. I’m trying to do two or three to get the concrete to break up. So there’s a functional place for max strength work. And even if you are not intending to be a competitive lifter who still want to actually train max strength as well.
And then last but not least. So just a reminder, we’ve gone through stability, endurance strength, hypertrophy strength, and max strength. And then the last step is power. That’s your, your athleticism. So if you are someone who plays a sport, You want to be training power? It’s you’re jumping, you’re running your agility.
All of that is really important to being able to function well as well. Right. So if you chase after your dog or your kids in your yard, you want the ability to safely. You know, pivot, change directions. If you’re going to be. Lifting something you want the ability to lift faster, maybe be able to throw things. So power is a component of lifting as well, but we actually need to lay a lot of foundation.
Before we get into power within the context of what you’re doing in the gym, because we want to make sure you’re not going to get hurt. So you have those five levels. Generally you have a singular focus on the macro scale, right? So I said within my programs, a lot of the time. I think of them as being a hypertrophy program, we are trying to gain muscle size.
That said you are not going to just do hypertrophy training every single phase or every single month. So I want you to think about your training on the scale of a macro level, which may be a macro phase is a year. And then we go down to the mezzo level, which would be like a month or a single four to six week phase.
So we can have a macro goal of hypertrophy training, but we’re still on the mezzo phase going to go through the different layers because you’re not going to be a very functional person. If all you do is hypertrophy training all the time, or if all you do is endurance training all the time. So we’re actually on the mezzo level going to go through.
Perhaps, if you think of it like a staircase right, we have level one is stability, endurance, hypertrophy, max strength, and then power. You might go level 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4. Like that. So going kind of up and down the staircase, building up over time toward maybe in the scale of a year, you might have one or two power phases total. That’s generally what I do inside strong as a mother. My live program that is a strength training program. We only have a power phase like once or twice a year. Most of our phases are in the hypertrophied zone, but we’re not constantly in that hypertrophy. So on that mezzo level, you are going to be seeing each month a little bit of a different focus within your lifting.
Then you’re going to choose a split. And another way of thinking about kind of that mezzo level is also on the week scale. So on the week or on the month scale, you’re going to choose a split and a split just means how many days a week are you going to the gym or how many days a week are you lifting and what, how are you organizing those lifts?
So a single week you might choose to do a push pull split. You might choose to do an upper body lower body. The split you might choose to do full body three days a week, you get to decide how do I want to split up my workouts? And there’s lots of science or lots of preference involved in this as well of how do you like to split it up? Do you, you know, sometimes I’ll work with people who like to do quote unquote, the classic bro split where you do chest one day you do, you know squat one day you do deadlift one day. Like you organize it by lift or by muscle group. That’s probably the most common. I don’t know if that’s just because like that’s what P90X does. And so anybody who’s done any sort of intro to weightlifting has done some kind of bro split.
But you can organize it different ways as well. I’m a big fan of a push pull split. I also love a full body split. The reason for that is because within my hypertrophy training, we do like to get a little bit sweaty because we have those aesthetic goals. We want to enhance our calorie burn within the workout and moving your entire body in a workout is going to burn more calories than if you’re just lifting chest or just lifting arms.
So. So. I like to do a lot of full body splits, but that’s not all I do often with a new lifter. I will do an upper body lower body split or a body part specific split because it gives you more time to recover from being sore. Right. So if you’re just starting out and you’re probably going to be a little more sore, it’s nice.
If you do legs on Monday and then you don’t have to do legs again for a little while, versus if you do full body every day, it’s like, oh, I got to move my legs again. Moving your body is good for helping with soreness, but it does, it is a little painful. So that is how you want to organize your mezzo cycle. You want to think about what your split is, and then we go into the micro level.
On a micro level. We’re talking about what do you do in each workout in one individual workout? What are you doing? So if you’ve got that split defined, that might already tell you what movement patterns are going to do, but you want to make sure that across all of your workouts in a week or within a meso cycle, that your week quote unquote week could be 10 days. It could be five days. You can decide what you want your split to be, but within whatever the timeframe is that you are doing each workout, you want to make sure that you’re hitting all of your main movement patterns.
So that’s a squat, hinge, push, pull, carry. They’re mostly exactly what they sound like. A squat movement pattern is squatting. That also includes like your lunges. Your hinge is a deadlift movement pattern. There are also other hinge movement patterns. Your push is generally refers to an upper body push, but it can also be a full body push. So that’s going to be your chest presses, your overhead presses as well as if you were going to do like a sled push or, you know, some kind of full body push.
Pull is going to be, oh, again, mostly we refer to this as upper body pull movements, but that’s your rows, your pull-ups or your assisted pull-ups as well as if you’re doing a full body pull. And then we have carry, which is exactly what it sounds like it’s carrying weight. So that may be carrying weight on your shoulders, carrying weight in your hands, carrying the weight on one hand or the other, but a carry is a really essential movement pattern that I see a lot of people leave out.
And as moms who carry children, All of the time. It is a really important movement pattern for us. It doesn’t feel sexy. It doesn’t feel exciting. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing a lot, but it’s really essential that we are practicing our single-arm carries because we’re going to carry a car seat in one arm or a high, low carry, because we’re going to carry a kid in one hand and all of their stuff. In the other hand, these are really essential movement patterns for moms to be practicing. And if you don’t have an organized training plan, it’s a big one that I see people leave off. So within the week, you want to make sure you’re hitting all your movement patterns, and then within each workout, if we want to get a little bit more refined and really be super thoughtful about how we’re training, we want to make sure we’re getting some core work in every workout. You want to make sure that you’re getting some rotational movements again, very functional for moms.
It’s the turnaround to yell at the kids in the back seat. You want to be able to rotate. You want to be able to like pivot and go, oh my God, where did my kid go at the park. And then you want to make sure you’re also training unilateral and bilateral. So that just means one side of the body movements and both sides at the same time. So for example, a lunge is a unilateral movement. It’s one leg doing the majority of the work. A squat is a bilateral movement. You want to make sure that you’re getting both of those things you don’t necessarily have to get both unilateral and bilateral in every single workout. But you want to make sure as you’re looking over the course of the week or over the course of your five day cycle or your 10 day cycle, you’re hitting all of the big movement patterns, and I’m sure that there’s more than I’m leaving off that I tend to do intuitively, but over time you, you expose yourself to more training plans and you’ll go, huh? I’ve never done anything like that. And that can be like, oh, that’s a gap in my training program. And I want to make sure I include that. The last thing I want to touch on is that especially the way I train, not every workout is strictly resistance training.
So typically because I’m training for efficiency. I have a busy, busy parents who have an aesthetic or a physical, like strength goal, and they want to be super functional. So within a workout, we can do cardio in a strength workout. We can do metabolic conditioning, which is just strength training movements at a cardio pace, or you’re getting your heart rate up. You’re maybe doing intervals within your strength work.
All of that is available. But you don’t get fancy. You don’t put icing on the cake until the cake is baked. So you have to make sure that you’re actually doing a solid, organized strength training program before you get sassy and exciting with throwing in, you know, burpees and time intervals and, and treadmill sprints between your sets and all of these other kind of fancy or exciting ad-ons.
So I’m going to summarize because mom brain. On the macro scale, which is your year. You want to make sure that you are having a general focus. Are you working on a stability, endurance, hypertrophy, max strength or power and power is your athleticism. Then within the year, you’re going to organize your months to hit on lots of different focuses, but with a general through-line of working on a single focus more often. So you might go up and down through those five levels, but hit your primary focus more frequently as you go up and down around it.
Then on the scale of a month or a week, you’re going to organize your workouts into a split where you decide to focus on certain movement patterns or certain body parts. Within each workout. And across your splits, you’re going to make sure you’re hitting all of your main movement patterns, which are squat hinge, push, pull, carry.
Then on the micro level of an individual workout, you are also going to make sure that you are getting some core work and getting some rotational work and getting some unilateral and bilateral work in and making sure that you have an organized clear plan. Before you start getting fancy and exciting with throwing in the fun stuff, the cardio movements and the sweaty and the, all of the, the the fancy things that you may see on Instagram as like, oh, you have to try this thing. It’s life-changing. Only if you have the basics done. Right? So that’s all a lot of information. If you are interested and want to build your own workouts, I hope that this gives you like a really clear understanding. You can go from here and go Google stuff, right? What should my rep inset schemes look like? If I have a hypertrophy goal, what our endurance rep insects schemes, how much rest time do I need if I’m doing max strength training? Those are all questions that the Google machine can spit out. But we’ve got now an outline of what your movement patterns should be organized, you know? Across the day, week, month, and year. If your head is spinning and you’re like, oh my God, I don’t want to do this. Like, yes, I get that. This sounds important. And that we should have a progressive overload, organized strength training program. But oh, my God, I can’t do this kelly. Great. Let me take that. I’ll take that lift on for you and I will program your strength training. If you want to come join my program strong as a mother live. Strong as a mother live is a strength training program. It is a progressive overload strength training program. That includes two lifts a week. It’s only two lifts a week, which is not a ton for, you know, someone who thinks of like being a gym rat.
It’s very, very doable, but across those, we’re really thoughtful about being efficient and hitting all of these check boxes. Then we add in your mobility, your cardio, your core work, you know, some Pilates sessions, some group fitness style workouts, so that there’s a lot of variety. And we’re getting all of the essential components of being a healthy, functional person, not just the resistance training. It’s a big gap that I’ve seen in a lot of resistance training programs, where someone delivers you, here’s your lifts with no guidance as to how much mobility should you be doing.
And are we making sure that your getting enough, you know, a mindfulness practice in, and also, Hey, are you bored? Here’s some things that you can do to avoid being bored. So strong as a mother live, really addresses a lot of the gaps that I’ve seen in strength training programming that’s available to new moms that’s available to new lifters and particularly women who may not culturally have a lot of that sort of gym culture. Going with the bros and like learning this stuff. So. If you feel like you miss that day in gym class, where you learned how to lift, that is the program for you. You do want to have a baseline postpartum rehab completed. And if you do, then strong as a mother live is a really great place to start strength training and hitting your full body training as well.
I would love to see you in there.