As a personal trainer, one of my favorite ways to help clients is to get them into a routine they can stick to and actually see results! I so love sharing workout tips with whoever is interested that I thought I would outline some fun workout routines that I like.
Wait. I need to share a rad video first – because, who doesn’t love watching something entertaining that happens to be educational? – It’s produced by (and co-starring ;) my sister, who I am proud to say has some mad skills at video editing, and seriously nails some key health/fitness pointers while maintaining awesomeness. *drum roll*
Maybe you’re reading this because you’re trying to tackle a first-time fitness challenge. Perhaps getting back in the game after a few months off your feet? Or maybe your routine slog in the park just needs a fresher-upper.
Whatever your case, I’ve got some ideas for you. I remember what it was like trying to start a whole new workout routine. So I’m going to lay out three different plans, and you can figure out what works best for your schedule and fitness level. My advice after that? Stick with it! Give it about three to five weeks and it will begin to seep into your subconscious and become a habit that your body will crave like it was chocolate covered gummy worms! Or, you know… whatever it is you currently find addictive and satisfying.
With a new workout plan, you will need higher-quality sources of fuel that will keep your blood-sugar levels stable and your tummy happy. This means eating less refined sugars, drinking no calories (really, just – try to cut them out. It helps a lot!), and eating a good percentage each of healthy fats, protein, and carbs. More on this in a later post.
As you begin to work out more and make significant diet changes, you will begin to fall into a pattern of healthy living that you’ll soon view as normal. Hey, I’m not saying it won’t take a little time and effort, but you deserve it, and you’re willing to do this for the long haul, right? Great. No floppy fad diets for this girl.
Plan #1: Five-Day Fitness-izer
Strength training (build muscle, burn more!): Three days a week – say Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – split your sessions into different muscle groups to train. Monday: chest, triceps, core, and quads exercises. Wednesday: back, biceps, shoulders, core and hamstrings. Friday: a combination day of whole body blasting moves consisting of plyometrics (like jump-squats) or other amped-up exercises (like mountain climbers).
Begin incorporating plyometrics (like jump-squats) into each strength training day to work multiple muscle groups at once and burn extra calories. You can also simply add more reps OR more weight, changing only one of those factors per week.
Cardio training: Three to five days per week, do an hour of cardio. For beginners, you should look to get at least 30 minutes of cardio per day and start to work up from there. If you get bored easily or you aren’t used to doing 45 minutes or more of one exercise at a time, change machines or modes of cardio once or twice during the session.
To keep things interesting and the calorie burning way up there, every fourth minute that you work (on the treadmill, elliptical, etc), I want the most effort you can give without burning out for that minute. Then go back to your same (not less) pace that you started at for the next 3 minutes. Repeat for the remaining time.
Plan #2: Three to Five Day Power Burn
2 times per week split your sessions into: biceps, back, shoulders, core, and hamstrings on one day; chest, triceps, core and quads on another. Say, Tuesday and Thursday. Aim for 1-2 sets of 12-20 reps for each exercise: a happy medium between calorie-burning and muscle building.
Progression: Once you have mastered the proper form for exercises in each muscle group, start incorporating more dynamic, whole body moves to increase the calorie burn and to work on stabilizing muscles. For example, once you can do at least one set of 10-15 pushups in a row with your whole body straight like a plank from head to toe, and can make a 90 degree angle with your elbows once lowered into the pushup, you can begin adding walking pushups: starting on elbows and “walking” up on to both hands, switching the starting hand halfway through – or side-walk pushups: walk hands and feet one step to the side, do a pushup, then walk back to the other side and repeat.)
Three days a week, do 60-70 minutes of intense cardio. This could be an indoor cycling class, dance aerobics, running up and down hills with burpees in between hills – any exercise that incorporates some interval training and is enjoyable! You have longer to go on these workouts, so make sure you like em!
Progression: Once you can get through a full session at a moderate pace, you can start making picking workout aspects to focus on. For example, in cycling class, you might aim for a higher speed on the sprints than before, maintaining a slightly higher heart rate for a little longer, or adding more resistance during hills. Or, when doing outdoor intervals, begin timing yourself to see if you can do the hills or tough parts longer. For this, heart rate monitors and sports watches can also be useful.
Plan #3: Muscle builder
If you want to add muscle density (stronger, more noticeable muscles) to your body, weight is your friend. If you are just starting out, or are just increasing the amount of weight you want to use in an exercise, hit the machines. Heavy weights can make form harder to maintain, and machines will help you keep good alignment. Do 2-3 sets of a weight you can only curl, squat, etc. for 8-12 reps, alternating muscle groups 3-5 days a week.
A five day example: bicep curls, lat pulldowns, hamstring curls, and decline bench crunches on M and W; chest press, tricep extension, leg extension or squats, and oblique rotation on T and Th; and vertical shoulder press, lateral shoulder lifts, reverse flys, and other core exercises on F.
Progression: After about 4 consistent weeks at a heavy weight, you will probably need to increase the amount of weight to continue building muscle.
Cardio workouts that involve weights or apply body weight can also help tone and build muscle. Burning fat will also help you to see all that hard work you put in! Workouts that are especially good include cycling, hiking, or toning dance classes. But be sure to give sore muscles a break! 1-2 days of rest in between heavy lifting is needed to build back muscle tissue.
Progression: Increase the total power your muscles put out by increasing the weight and/or the speed at which you perform the activity. Example: cycling up a hill or at high resistance as before, but then going at a faster pace.