New to the gym or just starting back up? The first step into the gym can be intimidating. Especially if you don’t know really understand what to do to make an effective workout routine.
That’s why it can be a good idea to start off a program by investing in a trainer or a program like Training Club. These suggestions can help you identify a plan to get you started on an fitness plan that will stick.
However, on days when you do have to craft your own workouts follow the suggestions below to get the most out of your session.
Determine Your Situation
How much time can you devote to exercise?
If you can do an hour that day, that’s awesome. But if you have a spouse, three kids, and a jobs, then maybe you can only do thirty minutes. That’s fine too. Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is crucial. On days when you are crammed for time, consider interval training or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) that will keep your heart rate elevate and burn more calories in less time. Why spend two hours in a gym when you can get just as much accomplished in 30 minutes?
What Exercises Should I Do?
Keep it simple, stupid.
Unless you’ve been lifting weights for years, try doing a full body routine that you can do two or three times a week. You want a routine that has at least one exercise for your quads (front of your legs),glutes and hamstrings (back of your legs), your push muscles, your pull muscles and your core.
- Quads – squats, lunges, one legged squats, box jumps.
- Butt and Hamstrings – hip raises, deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, good mornings, step ups.
- Push (chest, shoulders, and triceps) – overhead press, bench press, incline dumbbell press, push ups, dips.
- Pull (back, biceps, and forearms) – chin ups, pull ups, inverse body weight rows, dumbbell rows.
- Core (abs and lower back) – planks, side planks, exercise ball crunches, mountain climbers, jumping knee tucks, hanging leg raises.
Pick one exercise from each category above for a workout, and you’ll work almost every single muscle in your body. These are just a few examples for what you can do. They’re effective and simple. Once you start gaining some experience, try branching out and looking up more advanced exercise or adding weight.
Add some variety – If you do the same routine, three days a week, for months and months both you and your muscles will get bored. If you do bench presses on Monday, go with shoulder presses on Wednesday and dips on Friday. Squats on Monday? Try lunges on Wednesday and box jumps on Friday. Pick a different exercise each time and your muscles will stay excited.
Lastly, your muscles don’t get built in the gym, they get built when you’re resting. Give your muscles 48-72 hours to recover between workouts. If you’re lifting Monday-Wednesday-Friday, try incorporating cardio on Tuesday – Thursday so you ensure enough time to recover.
How Many Sets Should I Do?
Not including a warm-up set or two, try doing between 3-5 sets per exercise.
Keep your total workout number of sets for all exercises is in the 15-25 set range (5 or 6 exercises of four sets is a good start).
How Many Repetitions Should I Do?
If you’re looking to burn fat while building some muscle, keep your number of repetitions per set in the 8-15 range. If you can do more than 15 without much of a challenge, it’s not difficult enough for you. Add weight or change the exercise so that it’s tougher.
If you’re looking to build size and strength, you should vary your rep ranges depending on the workout.
If you can keep your muscles guessing by constantly forcing them to adapt to different routines, they’re more likely to get harder, better, faster, stronger. Try the following plan to start out?
- Low reps (5-8) and heavy weight on Mondays.
- High reps (12-15) and lower weight on Wednesdays.
- Medium reps (8-12) and medium weight on Fridays.
By doing rep ranges at each of these different increments, you’re building well-rounded, balanced muscles – full of endurance, explosive power, and strength.
Always try to keep your muscles guessing, and you’re less likely to plateau (get stuck lifting the same amount of weight).
How Long Should I Wait Between Sets?
A very basic formula for how long to wait between your sets is based on how many reps you’re doing for the exercise:
- 1-3 Reps: Rest for 3 to 5 minutes
- 4-7 Reps: Rest for 2 to 3 minutes
- 8-12 Reps: Rest for 1 to 2 minutes
- 13 Reps+: Rest for 1 minute or less
Now, pair this time between sets with how many reps you are doing. If you mix up rep ranges on a daily basis, you need to mix up your rest time between sets too. This is how you build well-rounded muscles, and a well-balanced body. w00t.
How Much Should I Lift?
This one is easy: lift enough so that you can get through the set, but not too much that you have NO fuel left in the tank at the end. How do you determine how much that is? Trial and error. When just starting out, or if you’re doing a new exercise for the first time, always err on the side of caution. Start
Now, if you’re doing exercises with just your body weight, you need to find a way to make each exercise more difficult as you get in shape – once you get past 20 reps for a particular exercise and you’re not gassed, it’s time to mix things up.
- Can you do 20 push ups no problem? It’s time to start mixing them up to be more challenging.
- 20 bodyweight squats too easy? Hold some weights high above your head as you do the next set. Try one-squats. Always be challenging yourself.
How Long Should I Exercise?
45 minutes to an hour.
If you’re doing 15-25 sets of total exercise, you should be able to get everything done within that 45 minute block. Now, factor in a five or ten minute warm-up, and then stretching afterwards, and the workout can go a little bit longer. If you can go for over an hour and you’re not completely worn out, you’re simply not pushing yourself hard enough.
Less time, more intensity, better results.
What if you don’t have 45 minutes? Maybe you want to build some cardio into your weight training. That’s where these next two sections come in.
Let’s say you’re doing four sets of squats and you plan on doing four sets of dumbbell bench presses after that. If you wait two minutes between each set, this will take you around twenty minutes or so (factoring in the time to get set and actually do the set).
Try this instead: Do a set of squats, wait one minute, then do a set of dumbbell presses, wait one minute, then do your next set of squats, and so on.
Because you’re exercising two completely different muscle groups, you can exercise one while the other is “resting.” You’re now getting the same workout done in half the time. Also, because you’re resting less, your body has to work harder so your heart is getting a workout too.
- Lunges alternating with incline dumbbell presses, four sets each, one minute between sets.
- Wait a few minutes to catch your breath and get set for your next two exercises.
- Straight leg deadlifts alternating with wide-grip pull ups, four sets each, one minute between sets.
- 3 Sets of planks, stretch, and get the hell out of there!
This is one of the most effective way to burn fat when exercising.
A circuit requires you to do one set for every exercise, one after the other, without stopping. After you’ve done one set of each exercise in succession, you then repeat the process two, or three, or four more times.
Keep a workout journal
You should be getting stronger, faster, or more fit with each day of exercise. Maybe you can lift more weight, lift the same amount of weight more times than before, or you can finish the same routine faster than before.
Write everything down so that you can compare yourself against a previous workout. Plus having a
Review: Building a Workout Routine
- Warm up – 5-10 minutes on a bike, rowing machine, jumping jacks, run up and down your stairs, etc.
- Pick one exercise for each big muscle group – quads, butt and hamstrings, push, pull, and core.
- Do 3-5 sets for each exercise.
- Determine how many reps and how long you’ll wait between sets for each exercise.
- Keep your body guessing – Vary your reps, sets, and exercises. Increase your efficiency and work your heart by doing alternating sets or circuits.
- Keep your workout to under and hour.
- Stretch AFTER your workout.
- Write everything down.