When you make the decision to start a regular workout routine, one of the questions you may have is, “How do I design a workout?”
In order to answer this question, you first have to answer a few others: What type of workout is right for you? How often should you be working each muscle group, and what exercises should you include in your workout?
All of this can seem a little daunting especially if you’re a beginner looking to lift weights or start a routine.
Don’t despair! It’s easier to design a workout than you may think.
Prior to starting a new exercise routine, consult your physician – Discuss your general health and fitness level to determine what exercises are safe for you and what special needs you might need to take into account.
There are different types of workouts you will want to consider depending upon your needs, lifestyle, and fitness goals. Before designing your workout you need to consider a few things.
Determine what type of program is right for you based on the time you have and your lifestyle in general.
- Do you need to balance exercise time with a full-time job and family?
- Do you prefer exercising outdoors, in your own home, or in a gym?
- Do you want to improve your health, lose weight, or improve your athletic abilities?
Now set up a journal so that you can record your starting points and track progress.
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How Do You Design a Workout for Your Whole Body?
A full body workout is good for beginners and is normally done three times a week on nonconsecutive days. It works well for overall muscle conditioning and can be helpful if time is an issue for you. In general with this type of workout, you perform only one exercise per major muscle group in the body.
When determining which exercises you wish to include in your workout you should begin by trying to choose exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck. In other words, choose that work several muscles at a time.
This will shorten the length of your workout and is a more functional way to exercise for the majority of people.
You may also wish to choose a few exercises that focus only on one muscle group in order to target problem areas. Some people may have a tendency to overdo this though.
If you are like most of us and have more than one problem area, choose one at a time to focus on. Work on that area for a few weeks before adding another target. Remember your goals. You do not want to take on too much at once and risk becoming frustrated with your fitness routine right off the bat.
Finally, you need to determine your starting weight for each exercise in your routine. Choose a weight that allows you to do 10-12 repetitions with the last two being challenging, but not impossible. If you initially choose a weight that is too light, increase it by five pounds for your next set and so on until you find a comfortable weight.
Do the same, but decrease the weight, if you find you have chosen a weight that is too heavy. Once you have your ideal starting weights, record them in your fitness journal as your baseline.
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How Do You Design a Workout If You Wish to Split up Muscle Groups?
Those who have some experience with exercise already or want a more advanced workout may want to split up the focus of their workouts and work different muscle groups on different days. You may also choose to do this if you have been doing a full body workout routine for a while and are starting to see a decline in your results.
The first type of split routine that is good for intermediates is an upper/lower body split. With this type of workout you will work your upper body one day, then your lower body the next.
You should include some abdominal exercises at the end of each workout session. You will need to choose whether you wish to follow a schedule of working out two days in a row (upper body, then lower body) and then taking one or two rest days in between, or working out every other day and just alternating upper and lower body.
When using this type of workout routine you need to choose one or two exercises per muscle group. The same guidelines apply with the full-body workout for trying to find exercises that work several muscles at once. Also, you may, once again, choose to focus a few exercises on one targeted problem area.
Another type of split workout, which is generally for those with more advanced weight training skills, is one where you work different muscle groups on the same day.
How Do You Design a Workout That Improves Cardiovascular Conditioning?
If your focus is on cardiovascular health and conditioning you will want to design a cardio workout that fits your needs. This could include running, swimming, biking, or taking aerobics classes at your health club.
While you do not need to worry about weights with this, you do need to determine your maximum heart rate before beginning. An easy way to do this is by subtracting your age from 220 which gives you the average maximum number of times your heart should beat by minute during exercise.
If you are a beginner, start with your cardio target heart rate range at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. If you want to increase your fitness level and lose weight increase your target range to 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Finally, if you are more experienced and wish to increase your aerobic capacity or athletic performance your target range should be 75-85% of your maximum heart rate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do you need to go to the gym to lose weight?
No! Proper nutrition is a great first step towards losing weight. Movement of any kind is also beneficial. If you can’t afford a gym membership or do not have time to go to the gym, try some bodyweight exercises at home, go for walk or run, or get some movement in at your local park!
What is NEAT?
NEAT is an acronym and stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It refers to the energy used to do everything outside of eating, sleeping, and purposeful exercise. By increasing your neat (taking the stairs, fidgeting, doing the dishes, etc., you can burn more calories throughout the day
How do you get the motivation to exercise?
There are many ways to find motivation to exercise. Here is a great article for more information on the topic.
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