Do you feel that you have enough experience in the gym to confidently put together a workout routine without having to consult a personal trainer? Or are you a beginner looking for some direction and a way to get started?
There is a lot of information available about health and fitness – from nutrition and supplements to specific movements and workout styles. The result? Confusion and information paralysis.
Which exercises should I choose?
How much cardio should I do?
Should I be lifting weights?
How many reps of each exercise?
How many sets of each rep?
To help you create your own workout routine, we have put together some tips and tricks that will get you started.
Your warm-up routine
Every training session needs to begin with a good warm-up. Whether you are heading to the gym first thing in the morning or after spending the day at your desk, you will need to prepare your body for the movements you are going to be doing.
First, start by getting your blood moving and heart rate elevated. Some ideas are skipping, rowing, running or if you have no equipment burpees or star jumps.
Bear in mind you do not want to fatigue yourself, just warm up and get yourself a little sweaty.
This is also the time where you will stretch and check in with your body. Are you stiff or sore anywhere? Do you need to make any adjustments to your planned workout based on this feedback?
The movements you should be doing
There are four basic movement patterns that should be included in your workout routine. They are fundamental movements meaning they are practical and useful in everyday life.
Therefore, during programme design, it is essential that exercises are selected based on their function and usefulness to the athlete and not on the attractiveness or difficulty of the movement.
The four movements (and their variations) are:
A squat is a movement with a lot of hip and knee bend whereas a hinge has a lot of hip bend but less knee bend. A push movement pushes away from you at either a horizontal, angled or vertical direction and a pull is a pull towards you following the same direction options as the push.
There are many variations for each of the above movements, some using just your bodyweight to movements using kettlebells and dumbells.
A basic weekly template for your workout routine
Allocate certain days to the three various training methods below.
Monday and Wednesday could be allocated to strength training. Tuesday and Friday can be cardio days.
Thursday and Sunday can be your rest days.
You should aim to do some type of strength training two to three times a week. Select your movements from the list above.
An example is deadlifts which are a hinge or push-ups which are a pushing movement.
These exercises should be done in 2- 3 sets of 8 – 15 reps
Pick something you enjoy doing like running or rowing and do this for 20 – 40 minutes.
Aim to do this at a consistent pace which you can hold comfortably for the duration of the task.
Add cardio to your routine as a stand-alone training day or at the end of your strength training session.
HIIT or Interval training
Again pick something you enjoy and make it challenging.
This should last about 10 – 20 minutes and the aim is to 15 – 30 seconds of work with 30 – 90 seconds of rest in between. The Tabata Protocol is a good go-to here.
An example: Complete eight rounds of 20 seconds of burpees followed by 10 seconds of rest.
We have put together some quick beginner workouts in this article here and they don’t require the gym!
Put your workout routine for the day together
Once you have mapped out your training week you can start creating a plan for each day.
It is important to keep it simple bearing in mind simply does not mean easy.
Select four to seven exercises per training session to perform. You want to place the hardest and most technical of these at the beginning of your session as you will be less fatigued.
Aim for two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each movement.
This volume is a good amount to get you started. You do not want to do too much nor too little and you can adjust as you progress.
The same applies to the amount of weight you lift. While it should be challenging, it should never break down any movement form.
Map your workout routine for the week. It should run in a “block” of four to six weeks. This means that each week you may add more reps or add more weight.
Once each “block” has been completed you can relook your program and adjust it by adding new exercises, training modalities etc
Keep a log of all your training data. This will let you know how you are progressing and how and if you should change anything.