THE FITNESS FORMULA
Chapter 4: The World’s Greatest Workout
- Setting goals - check
- Positive hope to habit mindset developed - check
- Support network gathered - check
What happens now then? Where do you go from here? What next?
This is often the part where people lose motivation and give up before they’ve even started. But not to worry – I am going to do my best to help you get started and ultimately design the world’s greatest workout that's suited to you.
It’s all well and good deciding you’re going to get yourself a personal trainer or coach, who will carry out this planning stage for you, based around your goals and current situation. However I find that sometimes people are reluctant to approach a trainer, especially if they’ve never done anything like this before, or if it’s been a long time since they last have. So for the person who would like to get their hands dirty and have a go at planning for themselves, here we go.
Firstly – how much time can you devote to exercise? If you can manage an hour every day, that’s brilliant! If you have a significant other, a couple of kids, a dog, a cat, two goats, a job and no servant, then perhaps 30 minutes two or three times a week is more realistic. So that’s fine too. For this reason, an efficient workout is paramount. Whether you’re looking to build muscle or lose weight, strength training will help to get you the results you’re after.
Secondly – where will you be working out? You need to decide if you’re going to work out at home, or at a gym. Both have pros and cons – for example, the gym will have the equipment that you need but you’ll likely have to pay for the use of it... while training at home is for free but you may need to purchase some bits and pieces to get you started.
Thirdly (and this is the fun part!) – we can now start to build your workout routine. The greatest workout will be the one you actually stick with, so don’t overcomplicate things by trying to hit a million different muscle groups with multiple exercises for each – it’s tiring and unnecessary. Keep it simple. I recommend that you go for a full body workout that you can commit to two or three times a week. The workout that will work best should have at least one exercise for each of the following:
- Push muscles (shoulders, triceps and chest)
- Pull muscles (biceps and upper back)
- Front of the legs (quads)
- Back of the legs (calves, hamstrings and glutes)
- Core (abdominals and lower back)
So what exercises work for each body part?
- Push muscles – bench press, push ups, dips, overhead press
- Pull muscles – dumbbell rows, pull ups, lat pull downs, bicep curls
- Front of the legs – lunges, squats, leg extensions, box jumps
- Back of the legs – deadlifts, hamstring curls, straight leg deadlifts, calf raises
- Core - plank, side plank, Russian twists, mountain climbers
By just picking one of these exercises for each body part, you’ll have yourself a simple but effective workout. If you’re unsure how to do any of these movements, YouTube have plenty of examples of all of them. Get confident with these movements, focus on getting stronger every week, and once you have these nailed, change it up again to add some variety and keep it interesting. If you keep doing the same routine a few times a week you might get bored, unmotivated and hit a workout plateau.
So how many reps and sets should you do? How long should you rest between sets? And how much weight should you be working with to be effective? These elements of the workout can be a tad confusing.
After an initial warmup set, I would recommend you aim for 3 to 5 sets for each exercise, and then 8 to 10 reps per set.
Sets? Reps? What are they?!
In simple terms, if you were to do 10 box jumps right now, that would be ONE SET of 10 REPS. See? Easy peasy.
With reference to resting between sets, it all depends on your goals and ability, but to get you started you shouldn’t be resting any longer than 2 minutes between sets. And in terms of weight you should be working with, again it depends on your goals and your ability, but to begin with always go with weight that’s too light instead of weight that’s too heavy. It’s basically about trial and error. You should be lifting enough to make it through the set, but not too much leaving yourself with nothing left to give at the end. For example, if you’re doing 15 bodyweight squats for fun, make it more challenging for yourself by holding a weight above your head during the next set. Don’t kid yourself by keeping the exercises easy – in the long run the results will speak for themselves!
Lastly, but by no means least, keep a note of everything you have been doing each time you workout. The exercises you did, the weight you were working with, the number of reps and sets you did, the length of time you rested between sets... Having this information to hand will allow you to monitor yourself as you go along, and you can then tweak and make changes to get stronger, faster and overall become fitter. It’s also really motivating to see yourself improving.... so maybe you’ll be able to lift more weight, or lift the same weight more times, or even finish the workout in a quicker time than before. Tracking and measuring progress is a key part in any fitness journey. I keep measurements for each and every one of the people who come to me for personal training – it’s helpful for them to see but also for myself so that I can continue to push them on further and further.
A quick recap –
- Warmup – never miss your warmup; 5 minutes on a bike, rowing machine, or a gentle jog gets the blood flowing
- Pick one exercise for each big muscle group
- Do 3-5 sets for each exercise
- Do 5-10 reps per set for each exercise
- Decide how long you’ll wait between sets
- Keep the workout under the hour mark
- Cool down – stretch out the muscles you were working on
- Record your workout
There is honestly so much more I could say but I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible. There are just so many elements to planning a workout, but hopefully this will give you a good start in the right direction. If you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a message and I’ll help in any way I can. Good luck!
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