Going to the gym four times a week and doing 30 minutes on the treadmill every day is not something that everyone is going to be able to fit into their schedule, nor do most people have to do this to achieve their goals. Even if you have the time, an hour of slow-paced cardio every single day and a circuit training may not be ideal for the kind of results you are going for. There is a particular type of workout for every specific fitness goal, and you need to tailor your workout program according to your needs. This is the most efficient way of getting what you want from your training.
In this article, we will look at a few of the most common reasons why people train and provide some information on the right kind of workout for getting the best results in the shortest period of time for each one of these. Proper programming is just as important as choosing the right exercises and rep ranges, as it enables you to push your body close to its limits and leave it plenty of room to recover.
If your main focus is becoming stronger, be it so that you can perform better in your chosen sport or if you are just a recreational lifter, than you will need to work with challenging weights at lower rep ranges, doing mostly big compound movements. The 3-5 rep range is where you will be setting up shop, doing something like 5×5 or 4×6 and focusing on the dead-lift, squat, bench press, bent over rows and military presses. As far as the diet goes, you’ll need to be in calorie surplus to ensure optimal strength gain, but many strength athletes do slow clean bulks, adding only a few pounds a month and dieting down to a reasonable body fat percentage when they start getting a little too bulky. Here is an example of a good strength building program for beginners.
The endurance freak
For those focused more on muscle endurance and optimal cardiovascular conditioning, a fair bit of movement is necessary. Your training will be based on whether you run, cycle, swim or play a sport – specificity in training is the key to becoming better at what you do – and whether you are focused on a mid or long distance. As for weight training, compound movements are still an excellent choice, but you will need to increase the repetitions and do fewer sets. Doing 15-20 repetitions can be beneficial, but switching between this and the 10-12 rep range can help you build muscle and endurance, which is useful for mid distance athletes. You will be burning a lot of energy doing this type of training, so a diet high in carbs – 60-70% of your total calories – is recommended. You can look into some of the different types of aerobic endurance training to get an idea of what would suit you best.
The sexy beach body
Some people don’t really care about gaining too much strength, speed or endurance, and are focused more on looking and feeling good. If you’re in it for basic health and developing a sexy beach body, then you’ll need a quick and effective workout that allows you to be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes flat. With three sets in the 8-12 rep range, doing either full body or splitting your workouts, e.g. upper/lower body or push/pull movements 4 times a week, you can finish the work quickly. As long as you stay in a slight calorie surplus and focus on progressive overload, you will make good progress. You need to build up your muscles first before you can show them off, so expect to be a bit bulky for a good part of the year and then shed the excess weight gradually over 2-3 months to keep all your muscle while looking lean and hard.
This is someone who’s main goal is to improve their fighting skills and become a better fighter. One aspect of this is gaining some size, as thick muscles will help absorb powerful strikes, but you will also need explosive power and plenty of muscle endurance. This is a tricky thing to train for, as you need to be fairly quick and explosive over an extended period of time, all while staying in motion. Good basic exercises are dead-lifts, squats, bent over rows, bench press and military press in the lower rep ranges, 3-5 for 5-8 sets, as well as explosive exercises like jump squats, power clean and medicine ball throws. A good amount of core work, neck and grip training is also advised. Plenty of carbs will be needed for energy, but you will want to switch to a high protein diet when cutting weight since higher carb intake will make you retain more water weight. A good example of an all-encompassing fighter’s training workout is MMA legend Georges St-Pierre’s workout.
I just want to look reasonably fit and stay healthy
This is the everyday Joe or Jane, looking for a little more than good health and a decent body, without spending a whole lot of time and effort to get these things. Chances are you aren’t able to fit in more than 2 workout sessions per week, and you can only squeeze in some 40-50 minutes of gym time. You can go the traditional bodybuilding route and do a 3×10 program, but there is a nice little routine by YouTube fitness guru and science guy Jason Blaha, which is specifically geared towards busy average people with modest fitness goals. You have to be at the gym twice a week, it’s no problem if you miss a workout, and you don’t have to go for maximum intensity and punish your body each workout session. As far as food goes, just try watch your calories as much as you can and stack your fridge and pantries with healthy food.
There you have it – a little bit for everyone. Exercise can lead to a lot of different goals and can be made to fir a huge variety of lifestyles and preferences so, pick your poison and stop making excuses.