Get 44% Off. Only $8.33/mo

How To Workout Smarter For Your Goals

Why Your Workouts Are Failing You

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m talking about how to workout smarter and why your workouts are failing you.

In particular, I’m breaking down how in our Live Lean programs, we program the following workout variables, based on your goals:

  • rep ranges
  • number of sets
  • how much weight you should lift
  • rest periods
  • tempo
  • training style

But first, let me share a personal story of my fitness journey.

I used to be terrified of just the thought of going to the gym

How To Workout Smarter For Your Goals

Then, in 1999, I finally had the courage to go to my college gym for the very first time.

Yes, I’m that old.

My first workout only lasted about 20 minutes, as I had no clue what I was doing, and I was super intimidated.

Over the next 4 years, I randomly showed up at the gym, when I felt like it, but never made any progress.

Fast forward to 2003

I paid for my first gym membership, and again, showed up whenever I wanted, did whatever exercises I felt like, and definitely didn’t have any plan when it came to my nutrition.

From 2003-2009, even though I consistently went to the gym, I didn’t get the kind of results you’d expect from 7 years of consistent training.

Again, I had no plan, I did whatever I wanted in the gym, and was not accountable to anyone.

I basically followed random workouts found in my monthly subscription to Men’s Health magazine.

Then I hit a wall.

I felt I was working hard, but I never knew how to workout smart.

How to workout smarter

In 2009, I finally invested in my first paid workout program that was designed for my goals.

Not only was I excited to try something new, I was also 100% committed, as I had my hard earned money on the line.

That’s when I first learned the power of following a structured plan.

This opened my eyes to the importance of how to workout smarter, not harder.

And that’s how I’ve been able to consistently train for the last 9 years, without ever getting a serious injury, and without ever falling off the Live Lean wagon.

I now follow a structured workout program to keep me accountable.

But not all workout programs are created equal

I want to share the most important training variables that we implement into our Live Lean programs to ensure you accomplish your specific goals.

For example, if you’re training for fat loss, the training variables you should be using in your workout are different then if you’re looking to build muscle.

Or if you’re training for strength, you should be using different training variables than if you’re training for endurance.

Your goals should dictate the way these training variables are designed in your workout program.

So lets breakdown what the thought process of what goes into designing a workout program, based on your goals.

How to design a workout program, based on your goals

Number of reps per exercise:

The number of repetitions you complete for the given exercise is dependent on your goals.

  • Goal: Strength

1-7 rep range

  • Goal: Muscle Building

8-12 rep range

  • Goal: Endurance

15-20 rep range

Number of sets per exercise:

The lower the rep range, the higher the sets you should complete.

  • Goal: Strength

5-10 sets

  • Goal: Muscle Building

3-4 sets

  • Goal: Endurance

2-4 sets

Intensity (i.e. the load/weight):

The higher the intensity, the heavier the weight.

  • Goal: Strength

High intensity, heavier weight.

  • Goal: Muscle Building

Medium intensity weight.

  • Goal: Endurance

Low intensity, lighter weight.


The higher the intensity, the longer the rest period.

  • Goal: Strength

2-4 minute rest.

  • Goal: Muscle Building

45-60 second rest.

  • Goal: Endurance

10-30 second rest.


Tempo refers to the time it takes for you to complete one rep of the exercise.

The tempo is broken down into 4 numbers. For example: 3011

  • The first number refers to the eccentric portion of the rep:

The eccentric portion is the lengthening of the muscle.

For example, with a standing barbell curl, the eccentric portion of the lift is when you lower the weight, as the bicep lengthens.

In this 3011 tempo example, it would mean lowering the weight for a 3 second count.

  • The second number refers to the hold/pause at bottom of the rep:

For example, with a standing barbell curl, this is the time spent with your arms extended at the bottom of the curl.

In this 3011 tempo example, it would mean there is no pause at the bottom of the rep.

  • The third number refers to the concentric portion of the rep:

The concentric portion is the shortening of the muscle.

For example, with a standing barbell curl, the concentric portion of the lift is when you lift the weight, as the bicep shortens.

In this 3011 tempo example, it would mean lifting the weight for a 1 second count.

  • The fourth number refers to the hold/pause at the top of the rep:

For example, with a standing barbell curl, this is the time spent with your arms curled at the top of the curl.

In this 3011 tempo example, it would there is a 1 second squeeze at the top position.

Note: if the tempo includes the letter ‘X’, it refers to explosive power, which is often used in strength building workouts.

With a muscle building goal, the time under tension is increased.

For endurance, the time under tension is decreased so you can complete more reps.

Best training styles you’re not doing

Now that we covered the basic training variables of what you should find in your workout program, lets talk about the unique training styles we use in our Live Lean programs.

Straight Sets:

Most of you are probably familiar with traditional straight sets, where you complete a certain number of reps, then rest, then complete another set of the same exercise, for a specific number of sets.

This can be an effective training style, however after a while, it can also get boring.

As you know, boredom often leads to people not completing their workouts.

That’s why in our Live Lean programs, we use different training styles to keep your workouts fresh, fun, and challenging.

These training styles include:

Rackless Sets:

This training style is used when completing compound lifts like the barbell back squat, the barbell deadlift, and the barbell flat bench press.

The idea is to select a weight that is 50-65% of your 1 rep max.

So if you could only lift 100 lbs 1 time, that would be your 1 rep max (1RM).

For this example, selecting a weight that is 50-65% of your 1RM would be, 50-65 lbs.

During a rackless set, you’d lift the weight until you hit failure.

But instead of dropping or re-racking the weight, you would hold it in place at the lifts starting position, until you get enough strength back to continue a few more reps, before hitting failure.

Do this until you can no longer do a single rep.

That equals 1 set.

Try to complete 4-5 of these sets.

Bomb sets

To perform a bomb set, you would complete a compound exercise to failure, and then immediately complete an isolation exercise targeting the same muscle group.

An example of this would be completing a barbell front squat than moving into an isolation exercise that also targets the quadriceps, like the leg extension machine, until failure.

Super sets

Super set workouts allow you to do more work in less time.

By working two opposing muscle groups right after another, you’ll be able to burn more calories, boost metabolism, boast your cardio, and increase the release of muscle building hormones in a shorter period of time.

Super sets can be done in two ways.

  1. You can target the same muscle group with two back-to-back exercises, with little rest.
  2. You can target the opposing muscle group, for example a standing dumbbell bicep curl combined with a standing overhead cable triceps extension with rope.

I usually recommend the majority of your super sets work opposing muscle groups as it is much easier on your joints.

Full body circuit training

To perform a full body circuit training workout, select 4 exercises that each target a different muscle group.

Complete each exercise for the given reps, then take a quick break and move directly into the next exercise in the circuit.

Your goal is to alternate each exercise within the circuit, until all sets have been completed.

Descending pyramid training

Descending pyramid training style workouts are also a fun way to freshen up your training and are great for unilateral exercises:

Unilateral exercises means working one arm or leg at a time.

For symmetrical muscle groups, if you notice one side of your muscle, like your pecs, is bigger than the other, unilateral exercises may be what you need.

These are mainly done using dumbbells or kettlebells.

For example, rather than doing a standing barbell shoulder press you would complete a standing one arm dumbbell shoulder press, using just one dumbbell at a time.

Start with just your right arm and press it up 5 times.

You’d follow this up by pressing up your left arm 5 times.

Then 4 with your right followed by 4 with the left, and repeat for 3, 2, and 1 reps.

This means limb is working while the other would be in its built in rest period.

Once you hit your rep count for each arm or leg, you are done the set.

Our Live Lean programs also include many other training styles including:


  • Muscles Worked

  • Type

  • Equipment

  • Experience

  • Reset

One response to “How To Workout Smarter For Your Goals

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *