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So you’re bored with the same ol’routine and want to shake it up a bit.
Honestly, there are so many different exercises and routines you could establish for yourself that it can be a little bit overwhelming. I’ll attempt to lay down a pretty easy to understand template that you can use to create tons of useful programs for yourself whether you like to change it up daily, weekly, or monthly. The most important thing to remember is to make it FUN! Do stuff that you want to do and enjoy. Otherwise working out is going to be a choir. I don’t know about you but I didn’t like doing them when I was 6 and I sure don’t like doing them now.
First Things First
Before even setting yourself up with a plan please make sure you make your health a priority. By that I mean establish the exact days and times that are going to be convenient for you to workout. When will you have no interruptions, distractions, or excuses so that you miss your scheduled workouts. Put it in your planner if you have to, calendar, or whatever will hold you accountable. Schedule this time as an appointment with yourself. Would you cancel an important interview, or a hot date at the last minute? You should treat your exercise time as such, an appointment with yourself if you will.
Let Your Experience Guide You
If you are new to this whole working out craze then you may want to ease yourself into it. If you are a guru or consider yourself an athlete then you probably do not need this article.
How many days a week?
This is totally up to you. What can you fit in? A little exercise is better then none. If you find you can only get 2 days in a week then set up your program for 2 days. If you can get in 5, then set your program up for 5. For recoveries sake I would recommend that you do not exercise every single day. Your body needs time to grow, repair, rest, and recover. If you are doing high-intensity crossfit workouts then you may want to think about going 2 or 3 days on and 1 day off. If you are alternating weight training with cardiovascular work or high intensity sprint work then you can most likely get away with 6 days a week if you alternate weight training with cardiovascular training.
Here are a few templates you could follow:
Sun: Rest Mon/Wed/Fri: Weights Tues/Thurs/Sat: Sprints
Sun/Wed: Rest Mon/Thurs: Upper body Tues/Fri: Lower body Sat: Play
Sun: Long run Mon/Wed/Fri: Weights Tues/Thurs: Rest Sat: Play
I think you get the idea that there are tons of ways in which you can structure your training in order to take advantage of the benefits.
I like to break down exercise selection into the major muscle groups and their movement patterns. By that I mean we will be breaking down what we can do in terms of exercise selection by dividing our choices into lower body pushing, lower body pulling, upper body pushing, and upper body pulling exercises. Here are some basic exercises that have tons of variations but nonetheless can get you started. For most you can add variety by including dumbbells or barbells for each. For example you can do a barbell lunge or a dumbbell lunge.
Newb or Intermediate:
- Lower Body pushing: Squats, lunges, box jumps, leg presses, step-ups, overhead squat
- Lower Body Pulling: Dead-lift, leg curl, glute ham raise, good mornings
- Upper body pushing: Bench press, overhead press, push-up, handstand push-up, dips, incline dumbbell press
- Upper body pulling: Pull-ups, Bent over row, inverted row (body weight), chin-ups, back extensions
- Core: Situp, leg raise, plank, GHD situp, toes 2 bar
- Cardiovascular: Running, rowing, jump rope, mountain climbers
Here are a few selections that I would consider full body movements that most crossfit athletes would be familiar with. These exercises are extremely effective.
- Full body: Thruster, wall ball, kettle bell swing, high pull, burpee, ball slam
- Olympic: Snatch, clean, jerk, power snatch, power clean
Full Body Routines
If you would like to put together full body routines just pick one exercise from each section in the Newb/Intermediate category to perform. If you are doing full body routines I would suggest not working out more then 2 days in a row. It would be best if you worked out every other day with maybe some sprint work in between. I would try keeping the exercises the same for the entire week so that you get comfortable with them. Then if you are finding that the workout is getting stale, switch it up the next week. The following is an example.
Sun: Rest Mon/Wed/Fri: Full body Tues/Thurs: Sprints Sat: Rest/play
You could structure your plan so that it features lower body pushing with upper body pulling and lower body pulling with upper body pushing. If this is the case pick 2-3 exercises from the necessary categories and structure your routine like that. Example below.
Sun/Wed: Rest Mon/Thurs: LBPSH/UBPLL Tues/Fri: LBPLL/UBPSH Sat:Rest/play
Perform anywhere between 3-6 sets per exercise. If you are doing higher reptitions maybe 3 sets, if you are doing very low reptitions maybe 6 sets. If you are performing the workout in a circuit style or crossfit style it may be best to do anywhere from 3-10 circuits depending on how much rest you take after each circuit, your ability, the amount of time you have. Be your own judge. Gauge how you are feeling that day as well. If you feel like shit, do not do as much. Easy peezy!
Mix this up! Most of the peeps checking this out will be looking for body composition changes so reps should very between 10-15. Below is a general guideline
- 1-5 Reps: Maximal strength
- 6-8 Reps: Strength gains with muscle growth
- 8-12 Reps: muscle growth and great for body composition
- 12+: Strength endurance
Depends a ton on what your goals are, the reps you are performing, and the style of workout. But Here is a general outline
- The fewer the reps the more rest (3-5 minutes) you are training for optimal strength. So let your body rest so that it can be as strong as possible for the next lift
- Rest 2-3 minutes between exercises if you are looking for great muscle gains, strength gains, and body composition changes
- Rest 1 minute or less if you are primarily focused on fat loss with higher repetition work. Also if you are performing workouts in a circuit style of training
- Let your body dictate. If you perform all 8 exercises in a row with only 10 seconds in between each, rest 2-3 minutes after the circuit before performing your next one.
Challenge yourself, make sure that those last few repetitions are pretty tarn tough for you to perform. You do not need to fail on the last rep but you should be pretty happy that you are about to put the weights down.
I never set a time frame. Work with the amount of time that you can dedicate to it. Do you like working out at really high intensities for short periods of time? Maybe 20-30 minutes is good for you. Do you like to take a little more time or maybe you’re just feeling a little pooped today? Maybe an hour. If it takes you longer then an hour to work out you’re either screwing around, doing to much, or going to slow.
Working out and being fit does not need to be lifting weights and running in a gym. Find activities that you like to do and get those in. Dancing, rock climbing, slack lining, flag football, bowling, you get the idea…
Here is an example of a recent day I had. Make sure to check out the beginner and advanced body weight workouts. You can also take advantage of some of the other workouts we have here at ELT for free. Please, if you have any questions or are just not sure about something ASK!! I love talking about this stuff.
Here is an example of a recent day I had.
Upper body push/Lower body pull
- Back Squat; 3-5 reps x 4 sets; rest 20 seconds
- Pull-ups; 10 reps x 4 sets; rest 3 minutes
(Rest 2 minutes after all 4 of 1 & 2 were complete)
- DB walking lunges; 6 per leg x 3 sets; rest 20 seconds
- Kettle bell swings; 53lbs x 25 reps x 3 sets; rest 3 minutes
- (rest 3 minutes after exercises 3 & 4 were completed)
2 sets ALL OUT effort of:
15 thursters (95#) + 25 double unders + 50 mountain climbers; rest 3 minutes after each set
Hopefully that gets you out of the rut you may be in. If you have to, take some time away from the gym and just go have some fun and play a little bit.