How to: Build a Crushable Open Gym Workout

Author: Sarah McManus

Ever walked in for an Open Gym session and not known where to start? With a little planning and these tried and true tips on structuring your workout, you’ll be set to crush your Open Gym sessions every time.

Planning isn’t always easy, but if Haley’s post on goal setting last month taught us anything, it’s that planning is a fundamental aspect to your success. 

Going to university? Plan your course schedule so your four-year degree doesn’t turn into a six-year degree.

Backpacking across Europe? Book your hostels in advance so you’re not posted up for hours at an internationally recognized fast food establishment for the purpose of free wifi. Am I speaking from experience? Maybe I am — find me and ask.

Working out is the same: Walking into a gym with no idea of what to focus on or where to even start is a recipe for procrastination and a sure-fire way to get an unproductive session under your belt. 

Now, it’s true that anything is better than nothing. There are days I’ve rolled into the gym and have just not been feeling it — but I schlepped all the way there so I’ll give my all to a few movements and then leave. That obviously was not the plan, but we made something work and that feels good. 

But every time you walk into that weight room, you’re not always going to want to just walk out. You’re at the gym because you want long term health benefits, you want to be stronger and you want to see the change — this is why we must plan.

Get Back to Basics.

A lot can go into planning. You can plan the day of, but when it comes to fitness, looking at the week, month, and even training year will give you a better idea of what needs to change or continue with respect to your workouts. This flavour of planning is called periodization, and it will help you plan reps, sets and loads as you progress on your strength and conditioning journey. 

For example: If you’re squatting 135 lbs for 3 sets of 10 today, that should change a little next week. You might know that adding 5 or 10lbs on your next squat day is going to feel like too much of a grind, but you could probably squeeze out 2 or 3 more reps instead. So, going forward for the next 6 to 8 weeks, your plan can be to bump up your reps on even weeks, and weight on odd weeks. 

It’s not a concrete plan, but it’s a guideline — and now you have a good idea of what your progressions will be.

But what about exercise selection? This is all about what you want to focus on and when. This isn’t to say that if you want bigger legs, you only do leg days, but maybe you organize your week for 3 lower body days and 2 upper body days – and of course some conditioning exercises mixed in there. 

This can look like a lot of numbers and some math that you likely do not want to do, but these are the basics of building a workout.

You’ve probably noticed our classes are structured and progressive with reps, sets and exercise selection, and that’s because of our HiFlux™ training program that makes sure you’re always challenged and never plateau. 

The Go-To – OA’s TrainHeroic Group

One of the best parts of group classes is that you can roll into class and know you’re getting an effective, challenging, and fun workout. The planning is done for you — you just need to show up and do the physical work. 

But yeah, life happens: kids have meltdowns, tires get flat, bosses call last minute meetings, so sometimes you can’t make it to class. Well, Open Gym is there for you, and we have designed the space so you can still get a killer workout in with the same equipment you’d be using in the Pit. 

This might be where you low-key panic —  what am I even supposed to do? I know this panic pretty well, and like I said before, you need a plan. But I thought I’d ask Coach Leo, what should people do in Open Gym?

Leo’s answer: “Log onto TrainHeroic, and pick a workout!” 

While you might miss the camaraderie and the hype of a class, there’s no reason why you should miss out on the pump, too. Not only are all the classes and finishers loaded into One Academy’s TrainHeroic group, but it’s a one-stop-shop for logging, scoring and analyzing your progress. 

If you’re not set up on the One Academy TrainHeroic group, send us a message, and we’ll help you get started!

Coach Leo’s Tried & True Open Gym tips 

Logging on to TrainHeroic is a great option, but it’s possible you’re not hitting up Open Gym because you couldn’t make it to a class. 

Maybe you’re coming because you want to work on a specific muscle group or movement pattern — awesome! Working on the details will promote longevity and help guarantee you have the best workouts when in the Pit.

But where do you start and how do you organize yourself so you can get the most out of your workout? Coach Leo has some tried and true tips for you:

Big Lifts First.

Prioritize your big lifts. Here, we’re talking about your squat, deadlift, heavy presses and heavy pulls. Whatever the focus is that day, start with the heaviest lift that corresponds to the movement or muscle group you’re working on. If it’s a lower body day, squats or deadlifts go first, and then you can work on lunges, step ups, goblet squats or any other higher rep accessory movements that really challenge those muscles. 

Track Your Rest.

Not tracking rest is usually how time gets away from us when we are doing our own thing. As a general rule, aim to rest for around 90 seconds between sets of multi-joint exercises that focus on large muscle groups. For your single joint, lighter work — like biceps curl and delt raises — shoot for 30 seconds of rest.

Sometimes, Less is More.

It can be pretty easy to over-prescribe exercises when you’re not used to writing your own programs. Start off with one of the big lifts you want to focus on, and then add 6-8 accessory exercises for a similar muscle group (For example: Push/Pull/Legs).

Move with Intention.

This one is last because we want you to remember it. It’s not difficult to get under a barbell and bust out a set of squats while thinking of your grocery list or trying to remember if you locked the back door. 

Instead, focus on the muscles that are helping that movement happen. It doesn’t matter if you know exactly what they’re called, or where they begin and end — it’s a squat, so think about the front of your thighs, the back of your thighs, and your glutes. Think about how these muscles lengthen as you squat down, and then get shorter as you push your way back up. 

And this is not just for your own workouts — do this in class, too! Focusing on the working muscles is going to make a big difference in your lifts and your overall strength.

These are good basics to use all the time, but why not try them out by coming in for an Open Gym session? With Leo’s tips and our fully equipped space, you’re set up for a successful, efficient and goal-focused training session.  

If you’re new to One Academy, grab yourself a $49 Two Week Trial and come see what we’re all about!