What is a “good routine” then? An ideal fitness routine consistently incorporates cardio, weight training, and adequate rest. Without all three components of fitness, you will not see results. Also keep in mind that what you eat makes a huge impact on the amount of energy you have, which controls the consistency of your workouts. Eat plenty of quality calories so you can expect to give good effort and have appropriate results.
An example workout schedule could look like this:
Monday: sprint cardio intervals and calisthenics
Tuesday: weight training
Wednesday: active recovery day
Thursday: weight training
Friday: sprint cardio intervals and calisthenics
Saturday: endurance cardio and weight training
Sunday: active recovery day
Sprint cardio intervals
The purpose of intervals is to burn through both types of energy storage: the sugar stored in your muscles (called glycogen) and the fat stored throughout your body. This type of cardio can be performed in almost any setting: on the treadmill, running outdoors, cycling, swimming, etc. Sprints are short bursts of activity between periods of moderate cardio. A “sprint” can be defined as 80-100% effort, meaning you are exhausting all of your energy. “Moderate” activity can be defined as 60-75% effort, meaning you are putting effort into the workout, but you could continue doing the activity for a while.
The first week of sprint intervals will start with relatively short sprints (about 30 seconds) interspersed between longer periods of moderate activity, which is repeated until you reach a total workout of about 20 or 30 minutes. To continue challenging yourself, bump up your sprint time every 2 or 3 weeks by adding 0:15 to each sprint. [For added challenge, once you reach a sprint time of 2:00, try subtracting 0:30 from your moderate activity!]
Example Week 1 & 2: Example Week 3 & 4:
Total workout time 25:00 Total workout time 26:50
5:00 warm up with moderate activity 5:00 warm up with moderate activity
Sprint 0:30/Moderate 2:00 (repeat 6 times) Sprint 0:45/Moderate 2:00 (repeat 6 times)
5:00 cool down with easy/moderate activity 5:00 cool down with easy/moderate activity
Exercises that use only body weight are called calisthenics. To add a quick calisthenics workout to the sprint cardio, pick 3-5 exercises from the list below (or choose your own) and perform 5 sets of 10-20 reps each. Here are some examples of popular calisthenics exercises:
Push ups Pull ups/Chin ups Sit ups/Crunches Plank Variations
Air Squats Wall Sits Step ups Mountain Climbers
Burpees Bear Crawl Lunges Hand Stands
Yoga Box Jumps Dirty Dog Tuck Jumps
Example Week 1: Example Week 2:
5 Sets of 10 Reps each 5 Sets of 10 Reps each
Push ups Air squats
Alligator Plank Plank Jacks
Side Lunges Dive-Bomber Push ups
Reverse Lunges 30 sec Wall sit
Burpees Russian Twist sit ups
Many people don’t understand how truly important a recovery/rest day is for a proper workout. Your body, mind, and spirit all need a break sometimes. Active recovery is a day for you to focus on other things, such as leisure activity, foam rolling, stretching, meditation, or soft tissue work.
A beginner weight-lifter will want to have a broad focus on learning technique and developing proper form, versus a well-seasoned lifter who has specific power, strength, or muscle-gaining goals. In order to quickly gain strength and stamina, a newbie will want to focus on compound lifts, meaning the type of movement that incorporates several different muscle groups. As your muscles learn the movements and you grow more confident in the gym, you can always begin the isolation lifts to work a specific muscle.
Examples of compound lifts: front or back squats, lunges, shoulder press, dead lift, cleans.
A circuit-style workout is my personal favorite because it keeps the session flowing without many breaks between sets, so the entire workout can be completed much quicker with a circuit than with the standard “rest-between-sets” style. With a circuit, the exercises are ordered in a specific way to rotate muscle groups. While you are working one set of muscles, the other muscle groups are technically resting. I like to rotate between upper body, lower body, and core. Each person has their own opinions on what makes a good workout, so learn your preferences and adjust accordingly!
The following workout has been developed for the beginner weight-lifter with a circuit style session:
Week 1 / Session 1 Week 1 / Session 2
3 sets of 8-10 reps each: 3 sets of 8-10 reps each:
Alternating Shoulder press Suitcase Deadlift
Goblet Squats Lat Pulls
Land-mine Press Bulgarian Step-ups
Hanging Sumo-squats Chest press
Lawn-mower pull Leg Press
Pitcher’s Mound lunges Bench Dips
An important dichotomy in the cardio exercise world is the pairing of sprint and endurance activity. The sprint cardio intervals introduced in the beginning of this article will condition your body for endurance activity. Endurance day is the chance for you to see how far or how long you can perform a “moderate” pace without rest.
Let’s say your short-term goal is to run a 5k race.
The first step is to pick a time (let’s say 30 minutes) as your ultimate running goal. That means you will need to wear a watch that has a stopwatch/timer function to help keep track of your progress.
The second step is to go run! If you ever feel too winded to continue running, slow your pace down to a walk. The only rule is that you cannot stop moving for the entire 30 minutes! Start your stopwatch as soon as you begin running and stop it as soon as you take your first break to walk. You can jot that initial run time down when you get home. You may begin with 1:00 run before you need to walk and that’s okay. Everyone starts slow, so don’t give up!
The third step is to watch your progress over 6 weeks or so. There are good days and bad days, so don’t get down on yourself if you see a run time that doesn’t please you. Instead of beating yourself up, congratulate yourself on getting out and doing it!
Make sure you eat well, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest to see proper results
Best of luck :)