Yesterday morning at the gym I didn't have a plan to follow. The reason is that I'm following the Old School New Body advances workout. It is scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Nothing on Thursday. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I didn't want to do high intensity circuits or anything too strenuous. I just wasn't feeling like it since I don't do much of that these day.
What did I do? I decided to do what I call an Odds and Ends workout. No real plan, just do any and everything that you want. Fewer sets and reps, but more total exercises. If you want to a round of just the machine weights, battle ropes, rowing machine, jump rope, etc. Anything you want to try or any weaknesses that need to be worked extra.
I think this would be especially good for a beginner to do from time to time. It would would help their overall fitness greatly by adding variety and new challenges. They would learn new skills and improve their overall fitness outlook.
For people who are not beginners, this would essentially do the same thing. Break up the norm and perhaps allow you to refocus if you've started to feel less motivated.
Even if you like your routine and are feeling and perhaps seeing results, your body is still adapting to it. This essentially means that your improvements are slowing down.
Every program needs to be changed or modified. You can follow your regular program, but substitute every exercise and your body will feel the changes almost immediately.
If you do dumbbell bench press on a flat bench, alternate with incline dumbbell press. If you do wide cable pull-downs for your back, alternate with narrow cable rows.
The key to alternating exercises is using ones you haven't ever used or have rarely used. By the next day you will feel an extra layer of soreness. That is good. Soreness reciprocates your workload.
Doing new exercises can really be an eye opener.
My gym has a rowing machine and I row several times per week. There are different ways to row.
One way is to row straight for a period of time such 3 minutes at first and working up to 10,15 or more minutes per row.
You can row for a distance and try to get faster and more efficient at it as you improve. I have done a 500 meter row every workout day for several months in the past. I would just row 500 meters as fast as I could and try to get faster each time.
One other popular rowing workout is to do an interval type of workout. Row 400 meters and rest for say 30 seconds, then row for 300 meters and rest for 30 seconds, and then row 200 meters, rest and finish with a 100 meter row. Of course you can do this to your liking. You can start with a longer row say 600 meters and work your way down. Or you could row for 200 meters and work your way up.
It also has battle ropes. These are ropes that are attached to a wall and grab one in each hand. You do alternating or simultaneous arm movements that create a "wave" in the rope. Do this for 30-45 seconds and you'll see how this works your cardio system.
I had never done these exercises before since I don't have these at home and all the gyms that I've been to didn't have them. I'm glad I can do them from time to time and mix things up with my routine.
Following a plan is great and I recommend following one most of the time. The program you are following coupled with your time constraints most likely leaves more to be done. Maybe not for general fitness, but once you get used to your routine and start being regular, you'll notice some things you need to or would like to work on.
On a day where you have no plan, you can work on these weaknesses. One example, right now my program does not call for pull-ups. I'm not great at these, but I always try to work on them since it is a body weight exercise.
Another one of my weaknesses, is calves. I do them once per week on scheduled days. I also do a few sets on one or two other days. I work them two times minimum, but I try to work them three times per week.
Other examples are skill work. When I was doing Spartan races a few years ago I did a running workout and a strength workout several times per week. Skills I had to work on were: grip strength, monkey bars, rope climb, and heavy carries. I did all these on an odds and ends day and some of them sprinkled in on other days.
I hope this has helped you see that you don't always need to follow a plan. By not following a plan, it could lead you to another plan. New skills can be developed and added to an existing program. In the end, it all comes together as one. Every new improvement in fitness, skill, and understanding, leads to greater results and perhaps a greater challenge.
If you don't have a workout program to follow or maybe you are looking for something new. I have developed a medium to fast paced program that is highly effective and adaptable to home or a gym. It is called 3 X 3 Matrix Training. There are three exercises in each matrix with three reps each and there are three rounds. Get it here.
I'm just an average 40 something guy with a family who wants to help people get fit and healthy. I have a bachelor's degree in Physical Education (UTEP 1991) and a Master's degree in Kinesiology (Sam Houston State University 1993) I became a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) in 1994 from the National Athletic Trainer's Association. I became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 1999. I have worked out (mostly) in some form or fashion since high school. I'm not super fit and I don't have a six-pack. I've don't Spartan and a few other obstacle races. I've done home fitness DVD's and worked out at gyms. I'm not a runner or a Crossfitter. I don't eat perfectly, but do understand it's importance. There are too many people who are not healthy and too many people who don't know how to enter the fitness world. There are too many personal trainers that are not qualified to work with people, especially beginners. There are too many false thoughts, gadgets, and expectations and I want to guide people down the right path so that they have success. If I share a product or service with an affiliate link, I either use the product or know the product. I don't know everything, but I know a thing or two.