For today’s post, I will be sharing my workout routine, as well as how I design my workouts. I change up my workout routine every 3-4 weeks and this is my current routine for spring.
Disclaimer: I am not a trainer and I am in no way a qualified professional. All of this info is what I have gathered from my own research and is what works for me.
How I Design My Workouts
When designing my workouts, I make sure I am hitting every muscle group a certain amount of times each week. This is what I keep a mental checklist of:
Biceps: at least 3x per week
Shoulders: at least 3x per week a
Triceps: at least 3x per week
At least 2 different leg exercises at least 3x per week
Hamstrings: at least once a week
Inner thighs: at least twice a week
(I used to work my calves also but now I don’t bother anymore)
Back: 1-2 times a week
Chest: 1-2 times a week
Glutes and abs:
both at least 3x per week
I don’t work every muscle group each time I workout, but I make sure I’ve hit every muscle groups at least a couple times each week. I use this mental checklist when I’m designing new workouts, and I typically design two workouts at once so that I’m not doing the same thing more than once a week (or switch it up by going to a workout class). I also recommend for you to keep a mental checklist like this when planning your workout schedule so you can make sure you are hitting every muscle in your body. That’s how you’ll get that full body tone!
As far as workout classes like cycling classes, Pure Barre, or Pilates, they’re great to incorporate into your workout routine but I don’t recommend doing these as your only form of exercise because they aren’t full body workouts (meaning you’ll be neglecting certain muscle groups). For example, Barre and Pilates work your lower body and core but they neglect upper body. If Pilates and Barre are the only form of strength exercise you are getting, then you will have super strong legs and core but your arms will lack tone. Go ahead and take those classes if you enjoy them, but try to focus on other parts of the body on other workout days.
Why Strength Training is Important
Classes like Soul Cycle are very trendy right now, but people make the mistake of using those cycling classes as their only form of exercise and thinking that they're getting a full body workout. Cycling classes, soul cycle included, are cardio only. You will NOT gain muscle if it is the only form of exercise you are doing, meaning you’ll be heart healthy but you won’t be working any muscles other than your heart. Those soul cycle classes where you lift 1-2 pound weights and dance around the handlebars do not count as strength training. It’s fun and is a great form of cardio but those 1-2 pound weights don’t count as weightlifting; I recommend lifting actual weights if you want to see improvement and toning. If you are taking classes like cycling or Zumba, count them as a cardio day and make sure you are also weight training at least 3 times a week as well (or 2 at minimum). However, if you’re one of those people who hate working out and cycling is the only form of exercise that you enjoy (and I do know people who only enjoy cycling and nothing else!) then by all means, exclusively do cycling. If that is the only form of working out that you’ll willingly do, then stick to it. Any workout is better than no workout at all, with or without strength training.
Why is weight lifting so important anyways? Why not do cardio exclusively? After all, cardio burns more calories than strength training, which is why people gravitate towards cardio when weight loss is their goal. The reason is because if you do too much cardio without any weight training, you will not only lose fat, you will also lose muscle. Losing muscle means a lower metabolism. Lower metabolism means it will be easier for your body to gain weight. On the other hand, having more muscle means a higher metabolism, meaning you can eat more without gaining weight. And who wouldn't want that? Ladies, don't be worried about becoming overly bulky or muscular if you weight lift; that is a common misconception and is VERY difficult for that to even remotely happen to you, even if you lift heavy. Weight training also elevates your EPOC level, which is when your metabolism so elevated after your workout that you continue to burn calories even when you stop exercising. Yes, this means that you will continue to burn calories even while you're napping or sitting on the couch after your workout. Cardio may burn more calories than strength training, but when you are doing steady state cardio, your calorie burning stops as soon as exercise stops. Weight training allows you to keep burning calories even after you stop working out.
If you’re like me and prefer taking classes, there are some great options that work your entire body. I recommend things like total body conditioning classes, kickboxing, and Barry’s Bootcamp if they have it in your area. What I personally enjoy doing is taking a total body workout class once or twice a week, and doing a total body workout of my own design once or twice a week. In the middle of the week, I will do one workout where I can enjoy myself and not let myself worry about hitting every muscle group (like Pilates, yoga, or a cardio only workout like running or circuits using a Tabata app). I workout typically 3-5 times a week and I make sure at least 3 of those days are total body days.
Now, onto the workout!
My Current Workout Routine
I have included links to pages with demos for some of the exercises that you may not be familiar with.
Arms and Legs:
Bicep Curls 8x-12x
1 2 3 squat jumps with resistant band (squat lower each time for each count and rise with a squat jump, resistance band increases the intensity) 12x-15x
Repeat circuit 3x
Shoulder Press 8x-12x
Weighted Double Lunge On Step (holding weights, lunge forwards and place foot on step then lunge backwards with the same leg behind you) omit the step if you don’t have one and just lunge forwards and backwards on the same leg. 12x each leg (24x if counting both forwards and backwards)
Repeat circuit 3x
Overhead Triceps Extension 8x-12x (Click Here for Demo)
Kettle ball Swing 12x (Click Here for Demo)
Repeat circuit 3x
Chest, Back, and Hamstrings:
Chest Press 8x-12x
Bent Over Row 8x-12x (Click Here for Demo)
Dumbbell Deadlift 8x-12x (Click Here for Demo)
Repeat circuit 2x
Glutes and Abs:
Hydrant into donkey kick 12x-15x
Crunch into reverse crunch 12x-15x
Straight leg crunches 12x
Half Bicycle crunch (crunch one side only) 12x-15x one side, repeat other side without break
Leg Drops 12x
Plank 30 sec-1 min
You can repeat this last circuit if you want, but I only do this one time through. You already have worked your glutes with squats so I count the first exercise as extra glutework, and I personally don't really care about abs. If ab workouts are important to your workout routine though, then feel free to repeat this circuit 2-3 times.
20-30 min cardio
I recommend HIIT (high intensity interval training) for cardio because you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. Yes, it’s harder but it’s also more effective. You’ll gain cardio endurance faster, and it’s not boring like a mundane treadmill session can be! If you are doing HIIT, you also can shorten your cardio workout because you’ll be working harder in a shorter amount of time, so it’ll save you time too. Do not do HIIT more than 3 times a week because it is very intense and recovery is important. If you prefer slower paced cardio workouts, take a day or two off from HIIT each week to do LISS cardio (low intensity steady state such as the treadmill, elliptical, or going for a jog without changing pace). Even on days when you’re not doing HIIT not doing HIIT, I still recommend doing circuits and changing the pace, rotating from harder to easier levels (but at a lower and less intense level than HIIT). You can still incorporate light circuits on non HIIT days. Avoid LISS for most of your cardio workouts if you can, because it is the least effective form of cardio.
My usual HIIT workout:
What I usually do is jog for 1 min, sprint as fast as I can for 30 seconds, and recover for 45 seconds. I repeat this cycle for 20 minutes. To accomplish this, I use a Tabata app (the one I use is the Totally Tabata app) which tells me exactly when to jog, sprint, and recover. You can do this same circuit with the elliptical or a bicycle if you prefer.
One last piece of advice:
Make sure you are doing your strength training before cardio! Do not make the mistake of doing an intense cardio workout before lifting. You will hinder your progress and sap your muscle stamina before you've even started, causing you to have less gains while doing the same amount of work which would be totally unfair to you. Always do your strength training first and finish with cardio!
Remember, it’s all about what works for you. This post contains info that I have gathered from my research and is what has worked for me, but if cycling classes are the only form of exercise you want to do, then go for it. If yoga is the only form of exercise you enjoy, then stick to that. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy and stick to that, because at the end of the day, what’s most important is that you are staying active, regardless of what form of exercise you choose to do or if you work every muscle group or not. What is your favorite way to workout? Let me know in the comments!