Just like how there’s no one-size-fits-all for clothes, neither is there one for exercise routines.
Everyone’s physiological needs, capabilities, schedules, and personal agendas are all different.
It’s meaningless to directly compare your personal workout routine with others.
Hence, consider the following factors when customizing your workout routine: what is your current fitness level?
How frequently should you work out? What is your objective for exercising — weight loss, strength-training, or muscle-toning?
What sets of exercise at what intensity is best suited to your body type to achieve this goal?
Depending on personal goals and motives, workout routines can vary significantly from person to person.
A bodybuilder’s routine is nowhere similar to a marathoner’s.
Keep in mind, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or veteran in exercise, the inertia to get started or regain the momentum of an exercise routine is challenging either way.
If you’re slumped and unsure of how to begin formulating a workout routine relevant to you, here are a few guidelines to better inform your decision.
How often should you exercise?
The questions most people want to know is how often should you exercise, and it all depends on your ability. I am hoping by the end of this article you will have much. better understanding of
Frequency of workouts
In order to determine the regularity of your workouts, you need to be honest with your current health status and fitness level.
Do you lead a fairly active lifestyle or a more sedentary one?
If you’re a proud member of the couch potato gang, don’t expect yourself to be able to tolerate exercising five days a week.
Your body is not familiar with that extent of physical exertion yet and would definitely react negatively to the sudden stress.
The key is to be patient with yourself and take baby steps.
Aim to exercise once or twice a week and afterward, be consistent.
High chances are, you’ll start noticing positive changes to your physique and mental capacity rather quickly.
If you’re more physically active, go ahead and challenge yourself with that five-day workout routine.
Converting exercise into a habit
After overcoming the initial inertia, the next hurdle on your fitness journey would be developing a habit out of it.
Nurturing a habit is by no means easy since research has shown that it takes minimally thirty days.
It definitely requires time, commitment, and discipline.
As mentioned above, the best way to develop a habit is to set reasonable goals for your workout routine through a checklist or schedule.
Allow yourself ample time and leeway to ease into the routine.
Visually documenting each workout session through recordings or post-workout selfies is also a great method to reinforce the sense of satisfaction obtained from completing each workout session.
Or perhaps, enlisting the help of a friend or family member to monitor your progress and uphold accountability; who knows, they might just end up becoming your workout buddy!
Lastly, ensure to exercise during the time of day most convenient for you.
If mornings are too hectic to squeeze in an exercise, opt for a nighttime workout.
Conversely, if you’re inclined to procrastinate, wake up slightly earlier to get the workout done and over with first thing in the morning.
However, the most important thing when habituating your workout routine is to not be too hard on yourself.
Some days, it might just be too challenging to exercise.
However, you can still celebrate small victories by at least engaging in a bit of movement every day.
It doesn’t have to be vigorous activity; taking a 10-minute walk is still better than nothing. I often start the morning with a nice 2.66-mile walk, it’s not fast but gets me out of the door.
Just keep moving!
An average day of exercise
For those who are more ambitious with their workout frequency and intensity, balance is key.
Be attentive to both your strength and cardiovascular fitness by alternating exercise sessions between them.
Remember your fitness goals?
If you’re focusing on weight loss, incorporate more cardio sessions.
If you’re focusing on toning muscles, incorporate more strength-training.
Simply put, don’t be afraid to be flexible in tailoring and adjusting your exercise routine to your progress and fitness goals accordingly.
Strength-Training: 2-3 Times Per Week
Contrary to popular belief, strength-training will not make you gain weight and become bulky due to over-training of muscle.
In fact, increasing muscle mass promotes quicker fat burn during cardio.
Moreover, strength-conditioning is vital to maintaining overall body functionality in the long run since it prevents premature bone loss, joint problems, and muscle loss associated with aging.
Experts suggest engaging in full-body muscle training at least twice or thrice a week, targeting all the essential upper and lower body muscle groups such as your chest, shoulder, back, arms, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
For more dynamic results, compound exercises like squats and bench presses are excellent for working multiple muscle groups at once.
Additionally, ensure a balance between pushing and pulling motions such as overhead press and rowing respectively to achieve the full range of upper body motion.
Aim to accomplish 12-15 reps for each set as your base number of reps.
After your muscles become more conditioned, reduce the reps, increase the sets, and add more weights.
In strength-training, the goal is quality (weight) over quantity (reps).
Lastly, a strength-training session should typically last anywhere between 40 minutes to an hour for optimal results.
Cardio: 2-3 Times Per Week
Ever heard of cardiovascular health? Well, as the name suggests, cardio exercise is crucial to maintaining the overall health of your vascular or circulatory system.
Cardio gets the heart pumping, promoting better blood flow.
This benefits your immunity, endurance, and oxygen-utilization.
Cardio comes in many different forms — jogging, cycling, dancing, etc.
Given the wide variety of cardio options available, there’s typically a suitable match for everyone’s preference.
Moreover, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular option these days
Research has shown it yields higher impacts for shorter durations, maximizing your gains every session.
Nonetheless, honestly, any sort of functional movement elevating heart rate can be constituted as cardio.
A good baseline heart rate to aim for is 120 to 150 beats per minute for roughly 45 to 60 minutes, accumulating at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity per week.
Now comes everyone’s favourite part: rest days.
After devoting the majority of your week to pumping iron at the gym, it’s inevitable for your body to ache from all the physical exertion.
Your body needs sufficient time to recuperate and rebuild the muscles to grow bigger and stronger.
Additionally, working out is just as much physical as it is mental.
Mental endurance is needed to persevere through tolling workout sessions.
Hence, take the rest days as opportunities to fully relax your mind from any accumulated mental fatigue over the course of the week.
However, physical and mental rest doesn’t refer to complete stasis.
You can opt for minimally-active restorative activities such as strolling, yoga, or Pilates class to truly attune your body, mind, and soul with one another.
You can be assured, this recharge is necessary to properly repeat another week of difficult, but rewarding workouts.
I have just completed Lockdown 2 challenge which was to run 5km every day during the lockdown. While I did complete it, towards the end I would have loved a rest day.
In fact, the day after it completed I rested for a day but did go out the day after.
In fact, I’ve got another article coming soon specifically on rest and why it’s important.
If it isn’t clear by now, working out is an incredibly personal journey.
Prime examples of fitness are different for everybody type and should never be compared against each other — only for motivation or inspiration when it comes to achieving similar body types.
As long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s most important.
But listen to your body, it will usually tell you when it needs a rest.