I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with having a weekly routine. On the one hand, I love the freedom and flexibility of having a virtually empty calendar. On the other, I do find that I get a lot more stuff done when I create and follow a strict schedule.
For the last three weeks, I’ve been following quite a regimented weekly routine and I’m definitely achieving more and making better use of my time. That’s the inspiration behind this blog post.
Why I Need a Weekly Routine
If you’re a regular reader of this blog you will have noticed that during April, May, June, July, and August of this year (five whole months) I only released three blog posts. That’s what happens when I don’t have a routine. Things stop getting done. And I don’t think I’m the only one who experiences that.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes, from Ronnie O’Sullivan – the greatest snooker player of all time…
Without routine you’re lost; you’re not going to achieve anything. Ask any sportsman or sportswoman and they’ll tell you the same.
I love that quote so much that it made it into the final chapter of my book, Expert in a Year: The Ultimate Table Tennis Challenge. Here’s what I had to say about it, in relation to our year of table tennis training…
When it comes to actually getting in those all-important practice sessions, it really comes down to creating positive habits and a solid routine. You need to plan your training timetable well in advance so that you know that on this day, you are training at this time, at this club, and with this practice partner. Don’t leave it to chance or try to sort things out on the day.
I really like the ‘don’t break the chain’ idea, which is credited to comedian Jerry Seinfeld. It’s a very simple concept; decide you want to do something every day and then start marking off days on a wall calendar when you actually do it. After a few consecutive days of work, you’ll begin to form a chain and your job is to keep going every day so that you don’t break it.
Of course, you’ll miss days from time to time, but it’s a good way of keeping track of exactly how much practice you are doing. It’s easy to assume you are doing more than you actually are.
During The Expert in a Year Challenge, we wanted to play table tennis every day for a year. So the ‘don’t break the chain’ concept worked pretty well. At the moment there isn’t really anything that I’m wanting to do every day, so I’ve switched to a weekly routine and a weekly ‘don’t break the chain’.
For example, you may have noticed that I’m writing a new blog post every Thursday afternoon. I have a few hours carved out of my schedule specifically for this purpose. This is Thursday blog post #3. I’ve got a chain of three going now and I’m committed not to break the chain.
My Current Gym Routine
I’m not training regularly as a table tennis player anymore. As such, I don’t have any kind of weekly table tennis training routine. I’ve always been impressed, however, by how seriously powerlifters and bodybuilders take their training schedules.
Go into the weights area of any gym and you’ll see plenty of huge men strutting around the place. Look closely, however, and you’ll see that they are actually a bunch of geeks – writing down notes and numbers into either their phones or a physical diary they take along with them.
It’s important though. If they hadn’t spent the last few years following such a strict training program they wouldn’t be able to bench press 500lb!
I’ve actually started going to the gym again myself. So, in the interest of transparency (I’ll explain more at the end of the post) here is my current gym workout routine…
- Squat = 50kg (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Bench Press (wide grip) = 50kg (5 sets, 5 reps)
- Bent Over Row = 50kg (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Deadlift (stiff leg) = 50kg (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Abs = Various exercises
- Deadlift = 50kg (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Shoulder Press = 25kg (4 sets, 10 reps)
- Bench Press (close grip) = 40kg (3 sets, 10 reps)
- Bicep Curl = 20kg (3 sets, 10 reps)
- Calf Raise = 39kg (3 sets, 15 reps)
I joined the local gym about a year ago and have been going on and off, with no weekly routine, since then. It’s only during the last 3-4 weeks that I’ve committed to going regularly (twice a week), at a set time (in the morning), and following a predetermined workout.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve only started seeing noticeable results since I committed to my current workout routine.
It is my firm belief that table tennis players would benefit greatly from approaching their training in the same way a bodybuilder would. From what I know of bodybuilders they tend to…
- Decide how many days a week they would like to train.
- Select the best type of training/workouts for their goals.
- Choose which exercises they will perform on which days.
- Determine how many reps and sets of each exercise they should complete.
It might all sound like common sense but you’d be surprised how few table tennis players make it past decision #1. The majority of players simply decide that they want to train three times a week, for example, but then never properly think about what type of training would be most beneficial for them, or which table tennis drills they will use and when.
My Challenge To You!
So, with all of that in mind, here is my challenge to you. Spend a bit of time NOW thinking through and answering the following questions…
- How many days a week do you want to train?
- When and where will you be training?
- Who are you going to train with?
- Which 2-3 areas of your game do you need to focus on at the moment?
- What kind of drills are best suited to your requirements?
Once you’ve made some decisions, share them in the comments below and commit to your new weekly table tennis training routine. If improving your table tennis is important to you then you need to block out those times in your diary. Give table tennis priority.
I look forward to reading your responses and it should be helpful to you to see the kind of training routines other players are adopting.