The more experience I get working out, the less I plan my workouts. I used to micromanage every session down to the rest periods and so on, but now, I rarely come to the gym with a firm idea of what I'm going to do. Nonetheless I do good workouts and make good gains, and I think a lot of that is to do with the rules that you learn through experience. I was wondering if you guys had found the same. I think there must be a ton of little informal rules that I stick to in the gym, but the ones that are most prominent to me are the following:
1) Always start a session with a big compound exercise- deadlift and squat usually for me.
2) Always choose compound exercises over isolation ones
3) Doing a session based around maximum strength is tough- you can't go too heavy too often. I found this the other day when I did a 3 rep max deadlift test, and while I didn't have traditional muscle soreness, I felt drained for a few days afterwards.
4) Smaller muscles can take higher volume, larger muscles can't. I don't know where this rule has come from, but it really helps me in the gym with choosing a good rep number. I remember doing 4 x 8 deadlifts and not being able to put the weights back afterwards!
5) A week off is sometimes a good thing. It gives me a chance to really appreciate going back to training again, and I feel much more motivated.
There are many more which I follow somewhat consciously, somewhat unconsciously, but I think these are the ones I really live by. Some of them I know have been shown in research to be beneficial, others just "feel" right. The fact is, that I basically go to the gym and decide there and then what I'm going to do. I find that having these hard and fast rules makes that a lot easier. I wonder who else has a similar approach, or are you all too precise and well planned for me?