Samara Donald is: The Gym Coach

Make the most of your workout!

Competition Part 2: Training

For me, the workouts were the easiest part of training for a competition. Most people who go into fitness competitions are already gym rats like me. So training is something we already do. I was actually surprised that I didn’t have to modify my training all that much. I am someone who’s put a solid hour or more in at the gym for the past several years, so for me there were some tweaks into what I was doing at the gym, but not the volume of training. I quite honestly enjoyed the tweaks and playing with how different exercises could manipulate my body – this is the part I was, and remain today, the most fascinated about going into the competition.


Here was my typical workout split:

Monday – Shoulders + Cardio*

Tuesday – Plyometrics or Hot Yoga

Wednesday – Biceps & Triceps + Cardio*

Thursday – Back & Chest + Cardio*

Friday    – OFF

Saturday – Legs + Cardio*

Sunday – Hot Yoga

*Cardio was always high intensity intervals, and started with 20-30 min (weeks 8-10 out), moving to 30-40 min (weeks 4-8 out) then in the final four weeks splitting cardio to do 20-30 min two times per day; usually one of the two workouts involved some form of plyometrics.

I also learned something about ‘periodization training’ – which really just means progressive changes, or cycles. You can see what I did with Cardio above, gradually ramping up. So with weights, conversely I ended up starting with long weight sessions, then tapering off as my cardio increased. All in all I spent about 60-75 minutes per day working out. Much less than I originally thought.

Here is an example of my periodization training

Weeks 8-10 out: 45-50 min Weights (3-4 sets of 5-6 exercises) + 20-25 min HIIT cardio

Weeks 4-8 out: 35-40 min Weights (2-3 sets of 5-6 exercises) + 30-35 min HIIT cardio

Weeks 1-4 out: Workout 1: 20 min Weights + 20-30 min cardio | Workout 2: 30 min plyometrics / HIIT

Final Week: No Weights, Only light cardio or plyometrics at 30-40 min/day


Workout Success Factors:

  1. Periodization Training (Cycling weights/cardio) is key
  2. It’s not about TIME (not hours in the gym!) if you work efficiently (plan ahead exactly what you’ll do at the gym)
  3. It’s about INTENSITY –  High Intensity Cardio and Plyometrics were my keys to getting lean
  4. Switching up between “type” (e.g. running one day, elliptical next, cycling, yoga, etc) helps keep things from getting boring, and keeps your body guessing or becoming efficient, so burns more calories.
  5. Alternate between eating before working out and not eating before working out – there are various theories on this but some evidence that working out on an empty stomach burns more fat, but only if you don’t do it every workout.

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This entry was posted on August 15, 2012 by in Exercises, fitness, Training planning.
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