I held a small little Q and A with some of the L365 community a little while back and one question that kept popping up was this.“How do I create my own workout?”
Well, todays post is all about the best workout for you and how you can create your own workout to lose body fat, build lean muscle, become more athletic, or leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Ready to create the best workout for YOU?
STEP 1: WHERE ARE YOU AT?
Ok, the truth is that there is no single best workout for everyone. However, there is a best workout for you, your abilities, your goals, and your lifestyle.
So, first things first. Determine where you’re at.
I’VE NEVER WORKED OUT BEFORE:
Consider this you if you’ve never worked out before, use walking as your primary source of exercise, or only use the elliptical, treadmill, bike, or another piece of cardio equipment for your main form of exercise.
I’VE WORKED OUT BEFORE BUT ONLY WITH MACHINES:
Consider this you if you’ve worked out before but only with machines. Not real machines but the ones you would find in a 24 hour fitness, Golds Gym, or other Globo gym. You may even have a bow flex at home. Remember those?
I SORTA WORKOUT. I GO I STOP. I GO I STOP:
Consider this you if you’ve worked out before but have are pretty sporadic. You’ve used dumbbells, barbells, and other free weights before but are not sure if your form is correct or if you’re doing the exercises right. You’ve done some bodyweight stuff like lunges, push ups, and sit-ups but have always been a little inconsistent. You go strong for a week or two than miss a few workouts, get back at it, only to miss a few more.
I WORKOUT CONSISTENTLY
You workout regularly and don’t have too much of an issue with consistency. You create time to exercise and for the most part make it a priority. You’ve never really had coaching on proper form but have watched a ton of YouTube videos to make sure that you’re doing it right. You’re familiar with the back squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead presses. You stick mostly to free weight.
I’M NEXT LEVEL FITNESS AND KNOW ALL THE THINGS
If this is you then you’re probably not reading this article but if you are, GREAT! You’ll still get some use out of it.
Next, figure out what it is you actually want to accomplish.
Is losing body fat your primary goal? Building lean muscle, unleashing your inner Superhero and becoming an athletic beast? Whatever it is, take a moment to write it down. The rest of this article should help you figure out the best place to start.
STEP 2: MAKE EXERCISE A PRIORITY
One of the biggest excuses I hear for not regularly working out is TIME. Your schedule is hectic, you have too much going on, you just can’t find the time to get fit.
Life is busier than ever before. You probably have work, school, or both – A significant other, kids, and other responsibilities. Every person is busy and is limited on time. However, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Some of you choose to make your health a priority and some of you don’t.
Take a good hard look at your schedule now. When are the days and times you have the least obligations and are most likely not to cancel workouts?
Things you DO NOT need to workout:
- You DO NOT need 60 minutes to get in a great workout. If you only have 10 minutes to spare in your day then use that 10 minutes to workout. If you have more than that, awesome sauce!
- You DO NOT need to go to a gym to get in a great workout. Commuting back and forth to a gym might eat up some time in your day that you need for other things. You can workout at home, at work on breaks, anywhere really.
- You DO NOT need fancy equipment to workout. You can build a sexified and healthy body using only bodyweight movements.
Things you DO NEED to workout:
There’s really only one thing you need to workout. You need to make it a priority. You’re going to have to create time for it as opposed to trying to find time.
Workout first thing in the morning either at home or in a gym. This way stuff is less likely to “come up” that keeps you from getting it in. Work can’t keep you late first thing in the morning, family responsibilities can’t take precedent first thing in the morning, and laziness and lack of motivation or energy can’t get the best of you.
But I’m not a morning person.
Ok, then practice becoming a morning person first. Start waking up five to ten minutes earlier everyday until you have created enough time in your morning to fit in a workout. Once you’ve become a morning person then start moving that caboose baby!
A few other ways to CREATE time for you health:
- Eat at your desk and use your break time for exercise?
- Reduce your commitments by saying NO every once in a while. We all want to be there for people but it’s ok to say no and to make yourself a priority.
- Ask for help everyone in a while. Let people know that you’re trying to make your health a priority and that you’ll need their support. Maybe the family can chip in with some of the housework. Maybe a co-worker can lend an extra hand with regards to a work project.
- Take a look at how you’re spending your time. Are you spending down time surfing the web, on Facebook, playing flappy birds, watching TV, or staying busy for busy’s sake? That’s time you could be devoting to your health.
Can you create 5, 10, 15, or 60 minutes to workout? Start there and build upon that. Five minutes today might be ten next week and before you know it, sixty.
STEP 3: FORGET MOTIVATION
If lack of time is the number one excuse for not working out then not being motivated is definitely number two. No no, not that number two. GROSS!
I’ve discussed it many times on this site but it bares repeating. You will not always feel motivated to workout so just forget it.
So how can you step up your motivation game? What are some tips, tricks, and hacks to get you more motivated when needed?
Forget carrots and sticks, the widely used catch phrase suggesting people are motivated by the desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
I love this statement so much because it is spot on. When it comes to motivation, there are typically only two things that will get your juices flowing:
A good example of motivation through inspiration can be seen in Dr. Edwin Land,the inventor of instant photography. His daughter one day asked him why it took so long to develop pictures; she wanted to see a photo of herself right NOW. This inspired Dr. Land to put the picture development process right inside of the film.
Through desperation, self-improvement guru Tony Robbins found his motivation. Tony was living in a 400-square-foot apartment in Venice with barely enough money to get by and washing dishes in his bathtub. This pain and uncomfortable lifestyle eventually got to him and pushed him into the person he is today.
What inspires you to workout? What creates desperation for you to find your fitness?
A few other ideas that might help boost your workout mojo:
- A workout buddy
- An awesome playlist
- Inspirational videos
- Reading success stories
- Record workout results, taking body measurements and using before and after photos to see your progress.
- Getting clear on the benefits of working out consistently. Will you have more energy to play with your kids? The confidence to try that thing you’ve always wanted to do?
STEP 4: THE BEST EXERCISES
So now you know where you’re at, how to create time to workout, and how to find some mojo.
The prep work is done.
Ain’t nobody got time to mess around in the gym. You’ll want to focus on the exercises that provide the most bang for your buck.
For this article we’re going to keep it simple to avoid paralysis by analysis.
Note: use the following key – Bodyweight exercise (BW), Barbell Exercise (B), Dumbbell exercise (DB), Kettlebell (KB)
LOWER BODY PRESSING
Primary muscles worked: Quads – Secondary muscles worked: Hamstrings and glutes
- Bodyweight squat (BW)
- Lunge (BW)
- Step ups (BW)
- Back Squat (B)
- Lunge (B) (DB)
- Step up (B) (DB)
- Goblet Squat (KB)
LOWER BODY PULLING
Primary muscles worked: Hamstrings and glutes – Secondary muscles worked: Lower back
- Banded good morning (BW)
- Hip raise (BW)
- Reverse lunge (BW) (DB)
- Barbell good morning (B)
- Dead-lift (B) (DB)
- One legged dead-lift (DB) (KB)
UPPER BODY PRESSING
Primary muscles worked: Chest, shoulders – Secondary muscles worked: triceps
- Push-ups (wall, incline, clapping, ring) (BW)
- Wall shoulder press (pvc) (BW)
- Dips (assisted, bench) (BW)
- Handstand push-up (BW)
- Bench press (B) (DB)
- Overhead press (B) (DB)
UPPER BODY PULLING
Primary muscles worked: Back – Secondary muscles worked: Biceps
- Pull-up (assisted, banded, door) (BW)
- Inverted row (BW)
- Ring rows (BW)
- Bent over rows (B) (DB)
- High pulls (B) (DB)
- Kettlebell swings
STEP 5: HOW MANY REPS
In last weeks article you and I talked about how to start resistance training and touched on reps, rest, sets, tempo, and breathing. Use that as a detailed reference but when it comes to how many reps you should be doing here is a quick little cheat sheet.
- 1-5 reps: Typical used for maximal strength gains.
- 6-8 reps: Balance between strength and building lean muscle
- 9-12 reps: Lean muscle-building with not as much focus on strength
- 13+ reps: Muscular endurance
It’s a good idea to train in different reps ranges often. Your body is super smart and it will stop progressing if you consistently work in only one rep range. So ladies, don’t be afraid to dabble in the 6-8 rep range and gentlemen, don’t be scared to drop the weight and get higher reps in.
You can create variety daily.
- Set 1: Back squat, 12 reps using 135#
- Set 2: Back squat, 8 reps using 165#
- Set 3: Back squat, 4 reps using 185#
You can create variety by using different rep ranges throughout the week.
- Monday: 1-5 reps
- Wednesday: 9-12 reps
- Friday: 13+ reps
You could also do this on a weekly basis.
- Week 1: Reps are 6-8
- Week 2: Reps are 9-12
You could even do this monthly. The options are endless.
Big tip – Make sure to use a full range of motion for ALL exercises regardless if you are using just your bodyweight or free weights. No squatting a quarter of the way down, no bench pressing so that the bar is 6 inches away from your chest (let it touch), no pull-ups with T-Rex arms.
You’ll develop better flexibility, strength, and avoid injuries this way.
Big tip #2 – Remember to breathe. Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you press or pull the weight.
STEP 6: HOW MANY SETS SHOULD I DO?
Much like reps, varying your sets becomes important as well.After introducing yourself to the weight training game 3-6 sets per exercise is usually enough to see consistent results.
More reps = fewer sets: Your muscle need to do a certain amount of work to see results. Lifting a super heavy weight 2 times for 1 set is not going to do you much good. We also do not want to make sure we do not train a muscle too much. 15 reps of a bench press done with 15 sets is just not smart. You’re most likely just over-training a muscle group. When we look back at the rep ranges provided above a good protocol to follow can be seen here.
- 1-5 reps: 4-6 sets
- 6-8 reps: 3-5 sets
- 9-12 reps: 3-4 sets
- 13+ reps: 2-3 sets (depending on training maybe 4)
STEP 7: HOW MUCH TO REST IN BETWEEN SETS
- Super sexy?
There are a ton of factors that come into play but lets simplify it.
Training for strength usually training for strength means you are working in that 1-5 rep range. Resting 3-5 minutes after each set is ideal to allow for almost a full recovery.
Strength/Muscle building – The 6-8 rep range will usually call for a 2-3 minute rest interval.
Muscle building/Sexy-ness – If you are looking to see major body composition changes and an overall improvement in your “Look good naked” quotient then resting 90 seconds – 2 minutes is where you’ll want to be.
As you get comfortable with the exercises and your stamina improves you should be able to keep the rest between 60-90 seconds.
Muscular endurance – 13+ reps and your rest can be anywhere from 10 seconds to 90 seconds. You can vary this depending on how much time you have for your workout that day, your current conditioning, and your goals.
More rest for bigger muscles – You will find that working out the larger muscles are much more taxing then the smaller ones. Performing a back squat is much more difficult than doing a dumbbell curl. More rest is often needed more after working larger muscle groups as opposed to smaller ones.
STEP 8: HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH TO LIFT?
Well, I can’t really tell you this one, it is going to be entirely up to you. However, I will say this. What ever rep range you are deciding to work in the last one to two reps should feel very difficult.
Lets say that you’re going for 10-12 reps in the bench press. It should feel like if you went for one more you might not make it.
If an exercise feels to easy you can make it more difficult by adding weight. If you’re getting super strong doing push-ups or pull-ups, try throwing on a weight vest or holding a dumbbell between your legs.
If bodyweight squats are too easy for 20 reps, then try holding a kettle bell.
You can also slow down the rate at which you move your body or the weight. Try taking 5 seconds to lower yourself to the ground while doing a push-up.
If an exercise seems to difficult you can always try modifications. Incline push-ups, knee push-ups, and wall push-ups will be easier than regular ones.
If inverted rows are difficult for you try elevating yourself a bit more. The more vertical you become the easier they will be. The more horizontal or parallel with the ground the harder they will be.
A big key for deciding how much weight to lift is form and technique. There’s no sense adding a ton of weight to your back squat if you don’t have a full range of motion (full range) (not so full range) or if you have muscular imbalances that cause for poor technique.
PUTTING TOGETHER A FULL BODY WORKOUT
Google workout splits or exercise templates and you’ll get a million and one ways to break up your workouts.
I’ve found that a minimum of three days of hard exercise per week is enough to get great results for most folks.
The examples below will be full body workouts. I’ve found that most people are pressed for time and want to get in and out of the gym but still get results. Full body workouts are great!
These examples will be combing lower body exercises with upper body exercises as well was using pulling versus pushing movements (refer to the DIY chart if you forgot).
Workout A (Monday): 4 sets of…
- A1. Dead lift, 6-8 reps; rest 30 seconds
- A2. Push up, 10-12 reps; rest 30 seconds
- A3. Bodyweight squat, 20-25 reps; rest 30 seconds
- A4. One arm dumbbell row, 10-12 reps per arm; rest 30 seconds
- A5. Jumping jacks, 50; rest 1-2 minutes
In this workout you would do exercise A1 (dead lift) for the prescribed amount of reps. Then rest 30 seconds and move on to exercise A2 (push-ups) and do the prescribed number of reps. You would again rest for 30 seconds.
You would follow this pattern until all five exercises have been completed. After your Jumping jacks you would rest 1 to 2 minutes. This would equate one set. You would then do three more sets for a total of four.
BOOM! Workout done for the day 🙂
Then on Wednesday of that week you could try putting together another workout for yourself. But this time lets say you’re pressed for time and can only workout at home and don’t have much any equipment.
Workout B (Wednesday). 5 sets of…
- A1. Walking lunges, 30 reps (15/per leg)
- A2. Inverted rows under your table, 12 reps
- A3. Hand release push-ups, 12 reps
- A4. Pull-ups or assisted pull-ups using your DIY pull-up bar.
- A5. Broad jumps, 10 reps
See, it’s that easy. It just takes being a little creative.
To simplify the process you can use the DIY workout chart and select an exercise from each section.
- Lower body pulling
- Upper body pressing
- Lower body pressing
- Upper body pulling
Choose your desired number of reps for each exercise. Choose how long you want to rest between exercises. Lastly, choose how many sets you’d like to get it.
ANY OTHER TIPS & TRICKS?
I hope that you found this article helpful. I know it’s a bit on the long side but bookmark it and refer to it later if needed.
Here’s a little cheat sheet I’d like to leave you with for creating your own workout.
- Take one day every week, I like Sundays, to figure out when you’ll have the least commitments and can create time to exercise. Four days per week would be great!
- Make those days and times appointments with yourself on your schedule. Nothing, NOTHING comes in-between them.
- Spend a little time warming up. Here’s a little example.
- Use the DIY workout chart and pick one exercise from each section.
- Determine how many reps you want to do based on your goals.
- Determine how many sets you want to do based on the time you have to commit and your goals.
- Choose how much rest you want in-between sets based on your goals.
- Keep a detailed log of all of your workouts so that you can measure your progress and never forget what you’ve done or how much weight and reps you’re doing.
- Try this little stretch and cool down routine after workouts.
Here are a few other awesome resources that can help you to create your own workouts:
Well alright. There was a lot of info covered here. Did I miss out on anything you were curious about? Still have questions about putting together your own workout routines?
P.S. Enjoy this sick info graphic for creating your own workout.
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