Okay guys, I wrote a huge monstrosity of an article, so I’m going to divide it up into sections and post it over the next couple of days. Here is the first portion talking about creating a workout.
Get Fit in 2019 Part 2: Creating a Routine
For the purposes of this article we are going to assume that the goal you set for yourself in 2019 is to lose some body fat and get yourself into better shape, and that you’re more of a newbie to the gym. If some of this seems too basic, it is because I want it to be helpful for people new to working out.
Diet, Exercise, or Both?
The first thing you need to decide is are you going to try to reach you goal by dieting, exercising, or doing both. I’ll make that decision for you: You should do BOTH if you want to have the fastest results and best success. Dieting alone will help you lose weight, but often times you will just be losing “weight” and not really burning bodyfat. With that method you could drop 15lbs and be thinner, but your body composition might still be the same because you’ll lose both muscle and fat. Exercise alone will increase the amount of calories you are burning, but if you’re still eating garbage – you’re not going to make good progress. The expression “you can’t train away a bad diet” means just that, if you are eating like crap, you’re gonna look like crap no matter how hard you work.
Cardio, Weights, or Both?
The second think you need to decide is what kind of workouts you want to do – you can do weight training, you can do cardio/aerobic exercise, or you can do both. I’ll help you decide: You should do both. There has been quite a bit written on the topic, and the general consensus is that doing both weight training and cardio exercise will give you the best and fastest results. The reason for this twofold: first you are going to burn more calories by doing more exercise, and secondly you are going to probably gain at least a little bit of muscle while you’re working out which will contribute to burning more calories all day long. Muscle requires more energy to “exist” than fat does – so more muscle means you’ll burn more calories. I can already hear it coming “…but I don’t wanna get all muscle bound and huge!” Trust me when I say that YOU WILL NEVER ACCIDENTALLY GET HUGE AND MUSCULAR! Not going to happen. No way, no how. If you had that propensity, you would ALREADY know it because you’d be lean and muscular and you wouldn’t be reading an article about getting into shape! It takes very hard, dedicated work and a carefully planned out diet to get “huge and muscular” – so it just isn’t gonna happen on accident.
Okay… now what? What do I do at the gym?
If you’ve never worked out before, the idea of coming up with a workout program can seem pretty daunting. I’m going to give you some really simple basic concepts to help get you started. Keep in mind that this is a very basic beginner workout plan – there are literally thousands of different ways to set up a workout, and most of them are probably equally right… I’m just going to talk to you about how I like to set up a program for a beginner. There are basically only 2 ways to set up a weight program and that is to do a whole body workout, or do what is called a “split workout” where you train different bodyparts on different days.
Whole body workouts
- Generally take longer
- Good if you only have a couple of days a week to do your workouts
- Can be set up as a “circuit” to burn more calories
- Good for beginners because they are less complicated
- Shorter workouts
- Need more days per week for exercise
- Allow more focus on individual muscle groups
- Slightly more complicated to set up, but still fine for beginners
Once you decide which type of workout you want to do, you’ll need to come up with some exercises. This could be a challenge if you’re not familiar with what exercises work each bodypart – but there are quite a few resources online where you can find that information. You’ll want to choose an exercise for chest, back, shoulders, “legs” (quads and hamstrings), calves, and abs. You don’t necessarily have to do specific exercises for biceps and triceps when you are first starting out because they will be worked indirectly with your chest, shoulder, and back exercises. At some point you’ll want to add them in down the road.
An example for a full body workout would be something along the lines of:
- Treadmill x15 minutes
- Bench Press Machine 3 sets of 10-15
- Shoulder Press Machine 2 sets of 10-15
- Pulldown Machine 3 sets of 10-15
- Leg Press 3 sets of 10-15
- Calf Raise 3 sets of 15-20
- Crunches 3 sets 15-20
You could then do this workout a couple of times per week and throw in some extra cardio if you have only a little bit of time on the days in between.
An example of a split workout could look like this:
- Chest Press
- Shoulder Press
- Hamstring Curl
- Calf Raise
For the split workout you could do this routine on as schedule of Monday (1), Tuesday(2), Thursday (1), Friday(2) while using Wednesday and the weekends as cardio only days. You could break it up whatever way you want, but I wouldn’t suggest doing each one more than 2 times a week.
How much weight should you use?
Start by choosing a “rep range” ie: 10-15 repetitions
Start with a weight that allows you to get at least 10, but less than 15 repetitions
Try to make progress every time you go to the gym.
Increase repetitions if possible until you can reach the “top” of the rep range
Once you reach the top of the rep range, increase the weight slightly
Okay that’s weight training basics for the beginner… now it’s time to walk about everyone’s favorite part of working out: CARDIO!! WOOHOO!!! YEAH!!! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating – but let’s talk about it anyway.
Couple of quick tips to start with:
- Pick something you don’t hate.
- Keep heart rate in the “fat burning” (60-70%) range if your goal is fat loss
- Keep heart rate in “aerobic”(70-80%) range if you are trying to increase aerobic capacity
- Start out with 10-15 minutes if you’re unsure of your tolerance
Okay so that’s a pretty vague list right? What is a “cardio” exercise? We’re talking about things like walking or running on a treadmill, walking on a stepmill or stairmaster, elliptical machines, exercise bike, rowing machine, arm bike, or basically anything along those lines.
What are we talking about with “fat burning range” and “aerobic range”? Great question – check out this diagram that I found online:
That clears it all up, right? Yeah probably not, because you don’t know how to figure out what those percentages mean yet!
First we need to figure out your “Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate” – there is a complicated formula for this, or a super simple one. We’ll use the simple one to figure out what range to use for “fat burning” or the 60-70% of max heart rate range:
220-age = max heart rate (MHR)
MHR x .60 = low end of range (60%)
MHR x .70 = top end of range (70%)
For example, if you are 20 years old it would work like this: 220-20 = 200 (your maximum heart rate)
Then we must figure out the bottom number of your range by taking 60% of the max: 200 x .6 = 120. Next we must determine what the top of the range is – so we take 70% of your max: 200 x .7 = 140.
Result is that your fat burning range will be between 120 and 140 beats per minute.
Now that you have this wonderful information, you can use it to make sure you are working hard enough, but not too hard. You’re going to want to have a way to monitor your heart rate while you’re exercising – so it is helpful to have a heart rate monitor, a fitness watch, or a machine that has built in heart rate monitor grips. A good rule is to wait to start counting your cardio time until you’ve hit the lower number of your target range. If you start to get too high and exceed the maximum number, you’re moving into a range where you won’t be burning as much fat so you’ll want to decrease the intensity of the exercise a bit.
Just to confuse things – all the above information is simple talking about “steady state” cardio – so cardio where you’re picking an exercise and just going along at a constant pace. You can do other types of cardio exercise where the above information won’t really matter, but for a beginner you don’t need to worry about that now. We will talk about it in future articles.
That seems like a good point to stop for this article because it is getting pretty darn long… next article will be about setting up your diet plan.