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* Don’t try to hit every muscle group in one day
* Having a plan will yield much more visible results
* Rest days are just as important as your workout days
Creating a new gym routine can be difficult to put together. What day should I work on what? How many days of rest should I give this muscle or that muscle? This all depends on your goals and how proficient or comfortable you already are at the gym.
Maybe you’re just getting into a fitness program or maybe you got a gym membership a few months ago and have been aimlessly trying out all the machines and paying close attention to what others are doing. In either case, if you’re going into your fitness journey without a plan, then you’re not going to yield the results you want. Having a weekly routine will greatly improve your results, so here’s how I would go about structuring your personal routine to achieve your specific goals.
1. Be Realistic About Your Results
First, you’ll need to understand where you’re at and establish where you want to be in your physique or level of fitness. If you’re just getting back into the gym and will need to ease into it more slowly, then be very aware of that. Even a short half-hour workout will make you quite sore, so take it easy at first and make smaller goals to gradually increase the intensity or length of your workouts. If you’ve been in the gym for some time already, then you likely know your limits and can plan to push past those limits on a daily basis with a 1-2 hour workout.
Training to be able to run a marathon will entail a much different strategy then training to compete in a body building competition. Whatever your goal is, set it high because no one likes a low ceiling, but be patient. The way I see it, you can train with the purpose of either increasing your muscular endurance or muscular strength, or work on both.
2. Divide Your Workouts by Target Areas
Aiming to increase your muscular endurance will involve a lot of cardio-based workouts that involve high reps. Your weekly routine should be broken into upper body days and lower body days. Activities like running or cycling would focus on your lower body, while things like boxing or rowing would focus on your upper body.
If you want to lift weights and still focus on endurance, then just keep your rep count high. Performing 4-5 sets of 15-30 reps each will certainly achieve muscular endurance. For appropriate rest, I would recommend doing lower body exercises on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then focus on your upper body movements on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Leave Sunday as your rest day.
3. Heavy Weights, Low Reps
For muscular strength, you’ll want to be lifting heavy weights for a low amount of reps. For a balanced workout routine, I recommend assigning a muscle group to each day of the week and spending about an hour to an hour and a half in the gym focusing on that muscle. For example, Monday do chest, Tuesday do legs, Wednesday do back, Thursday do shoulders and Friday do arms.
Try to do 3-4 sets of 5-10 reps for each exercise and ascend in weight with each set. Pushing through those last sets is where all your gains will be made. If there is one muscle group that you really want to see an improvement in, then hit that muscle group again on Saturday or Sunday. Just be sure to dedicate one of those days to a rest day.
4. Get Creative
If you already have a decent athletic base and are looking to work on both muscular endurance and strength then it’s time to get creative. Mixing cardio and heavy lifting will make you a more versatile athlete, but it can be challenging if you’ve only trained for one of the two in the past. I suggest sticking to the one muscle group per day type of lifting, but increasing your reps.
Do 4-5 sets of 10-15 reps with heavier weight on each of your exercises. Still try to ascend in weight, but if you get to your third set and can’t get those ten reps, then find lighter weights and finish out the reps. Also, you can’t neglect cardio. I like to start all my lifting workouts with a two-mile run and then have two days per week where I don’t touch a weight and dedicate the day entirely to cardio. These strictly cardio days will either be a 5+ mile run or a 15+ mile bike ride.
Whatever your goal may be, there is a way to get there and it won’t happen overnight. It requires a plan and a lot of sweat and dedication. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and eating a diet that will properly propel you for these workouts. And be patient: like they say, the best things happen to those who wait. Your gains will show up eventually.