Whether you are a beginner or have some experience exercising, it can sometimes be difficult to create a workout program that works for you. Below are my 5 best tips for developing a basic workout program!
1) There's More Than Just Cardio
I don't know what it is about cardio machines but it seems that this is where everyone flocks to when they first start exercising. Cardiovascular training is good and important but it can't be the only thing we do when we go to the gym. Way too often when I ask people what their normal workout routine is they reply, "Well I usually do like an hour of cardio and then maybe some abs." An hour of cardio?! Yeah no thanks! My theory for the cardio craziness is that cardio machines are fairly simple and easy to do while maybe free weights are more complicated to learn. Whatever the reasoning for this is, it has to stop. A well rounded program includes cardio AND weight training.
Not all exercises are created equally. Some exercises are better at the beginning of your workout, and some are better at the end. Compound exercises are better at the beginning of your workout--usually your first lift. Compound exercises are exercises that use multiple muscles groups to complete the movement. The three most popular compound exercises are squats, deadlifts, and bench press. I use compounds at the beginning because they are exercises that require large amounts of energy, especially when training for strength, so it is best to do them in the beginning when your muscles are still fresh and haven't been pre-exhausted (there is a training method that utilizes pre-exhaustion techniques but we are keeping things super basic in this post). There is also some research out there that suggests recruiting multiple large muscle groups in the beginning of the workout can increase neural and hormonal drive, compound movements are good for this.
3) Supersets & Circuits
Supersets and circuits are two of my favorite training techniques to use with my personal training clients. A superset is two exercises done back to back with no rest in between and circuits are 3 or more exercises done in a row before a break. There is at least one superset or circuit in pretty much all of my training programs. This is because I usually only have an hour with my clients so I want to get as much done in that 60 minute time frame as possible. Supersets are a great way to do so. They are also a great way to get some cardiovascular benefit while weight training. Moving from one exercise to the next increases the demand on our cardiovascular system. I usually don't superset/circuit compound movements. Most of the time I save the supersets and circuits for the accessory movements.
4) Bilateral and Unilateral
Make sure that your accessory exercises include bilateral (two limbs moving at once) and unilateral (single limb movement) exercises. Doing exclusively bilateral exercises tends to create imbalances as your dominant side will pick up the slack of your non-dominant side. This leads to your stronger side getting stronger and your weaker side staying pretty much the same. Unilateral exercises will help to decrease some of those imbalances. Your weaker side may never catch up completely to your stronger side but the difference between the two will be much less.
5) Pick Exercises That You Like
I wrote about this in my second blog post on this website titled 'The Best Training Program.' If you hate the exercises in your program, you are much less likely to continue the program for very long. Try different exercises or variations of exercises and see what you like and what works for you. This, however, will not be a perfect solution as sometimes we have to do things that we don't like. I am well known for my dislike towards squats. I can't stand them. BUT, I recognize the benefit and still include them in my program. However, on days that I squat, I make sure to include a few exercises that I really like to counterbalance my squat hatred.
Thanks for reading this week's blog post! If you are new please subscribe to the FREE newsletter! If you need help designing the perfect workout program for you, then check out the Customized Workout Program in the Shop!
Follow On Social Media!