We live in a world of customization. Whatever we want, we get it when we want it.
You can customize everything, from your smartphone to the car you drive to the latte you’re sipping as you head into work.
So why should we stick to one size fits all fitness routines?
After all, differences make the world go around, and your plan should be tailored to fit your unique needs.
Your height, weight, age, gender and even how much time you have all plays a role in making sure the program you create is just right for you.
And furthermore, it’s not hard to make this more difficult than it has to be. There are a never-ending number of reps, sets, moves, and plans to pick and try.
You could certainly go to a personal trainer or exercise specialist that will create a plan just for you.
However, there are a few issues with this:
It costs a bundle, and you also have to carve out time from your busy day to meet with this individual.
And who knows if you will see eye to eye on what’s best for you?
(Of course, this is not meant to discourage! Personal trainers and others are certainly experts and can create a program for you with no worries…. but not everybody can afford it).
Besides, some of us like to dive right in and get it done ourselves. If you’re the type of guy or gal who likes to change their own oil, make DIY birthday gifts for family and friends or create original recipes, this article is DEFINITELY going to be for you.
Heck, even if you’re not, you might just really enjoy making your own plan! It can be a little daunting, but like anything, you just need to get the basic components down first and the rest just comes with time.
So, are you ready to get started?
Let us show you how, and you will absolutely love the feeling you get doing a workout YOU created for your individual needs.
From the Beginning….
Let’s talk about the bare necessities (Jungle Book, anyone?).
How many minutes per day can you work out?
Can you do one hour, 45 minutes, or 30 minutes?
Maybe you cannot do exercise every day of the week. Maybe, thanks to family and work obligations, you can only do 1 hour twice per week.
That is perfectly fine too, and we can work with that.
No matter the time crunch that you are faced with, your task is to be as efficient as possible.
The old adage “Work Smart” comes to mind here.
Weight training is the king of all the fat burners, contrary to what those cardio junkies might have told you. And those weight exercises? Super-efficient.
Noticing a pattern here? Efficiency is the name of the game.
Now the next question we want to ask is this:
- Where can you work out?
- Will you work out at home?
- Will you work out in the yard or the nearby playground while the kids play?
- Will you be in a gym?
No matter where you are, there are workouts that go with each of these settings. That’s a reason to smile!
Your own body weight is a huge asset and you have it anywhere you go.
Once you figure out where you’re going to be workin’ it, you can make a routine based upon what gear you have available.
Q. So What Moves Do I Do?
“Plain and Simple” is the phrase I want to drill into your head. You might even remember KISS, or “Keep it simple, sweetie.”
The greatest workout you can do is the one that keeps you coming back; the one that offers a challenge and is not so overly complicated that you end up confusing yourself. It’s not fun, and makes you feel frustrated and defeated.
We are going to have you now choose five moves that will be your baseline exercises. Pick moves that you are comfortable doing 2-3 times a week.
The aim of this routine is to provide at least one move for each of these body parts:
- The Core, which is your abs and low back.
- Back, bis (or biceps) and the grips, known as your pull muscles.
- Booty and hammies (gluteus maximus and the hamstrings, back of your legs)
- Quad muscles, which is the front of the legs.
- Chest, tris and shoulders-these are the push muscle groups.
We want to do compound movements that bring in many muscles all at once. In this manner you build a full body exercise plan that utilizes only four or five moves. Yeah, it’s that easy!
So now, let’s treat this like a menu.
You take a look at these exercise ideas and pick what sounds good:
- Booty/hamstring exercises: deadlifts, squats, good mornings
- Quad moves: barbell lunges, regular lunges, squat jumps
- Chest/Shoulder/Tris moves: Push-ups, chair dips, bench presses
- Pull exercises (for the back and biceps)-rows with a dumbbell, chin ups, pull ups.
- Core Moves: Planks, crunches with a yoga ball, mountain climbers
Now there are heaps more exercises you can do for each group above. We don’t want to inundate you with too many choices. If there is a certain move that works a muscle and you love it, go for it!
Choose one move from each category above. That’s a workout!
Do it 2-3 times a week, and every muscle in the body will get worked. You will get stronger and stronger, and your body will show it.
Here’s a sample from when I first started designing my own plan:
- Jump Squats: 5 sets, 5 reps.
- Good Mornings: 3 Sets, 8 Reps.
- On the Knees Push Up: 4 sets, 10 reps.
- Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets, 10 reps.
- Yoga Ball Crunch: 3 sets, 15 Reps.
Now that’s what I call simple! And in case you don’t know how to do a move, you can drop us a note here at GymViper and we can show you how. But, if you cannot wait, YouTube is a great resource.
Don’t be your own worst enemy, OK? Don’t choose the hardest or the worst ones because you want to be a tough guy or gal. Just choose what sounds good and challenging.
Exercise and working out is a pleasure and should be treated as such. Besides you should aim to do this every other day for the week, so don’t make it hard on yourself!
Challenging is the name of the game, not impossible.
And then once you get these moves down pat, shake it up a little. Variety is the spice of life. And working out is something we want you doing for the rest of your life, so make it interesting and fun so you don’t give up.
Besides, did you know that by doing the same routine over and over again your muscles get used to it? That’s right-and you will stop seeing results.
So, keep with the workout recipe we have laid out above, but insert some new moves every now and again.
For instance: If you do deadlifts on Monday, do squats Wednesday and Good Mornings on Friday.
If you do push-ups on Monday, aim for chair dips on Wednesday and then bench presses on Friday.
You get the idea! It’s all about making it fun for the brain and the body. And, knowing you are getting stronger is a huge confidence booster.
Okay now…here’s something maybe you did not know…the muscles do not get stronger in the gym.
They get stronger at rest. Yes, when muscles undergo their repair, they rebuild themselves stronger than before. That’s why we recommend 48 hours of rest periods between heavy workouts.
If you’re just starting out, doing the Monday/Wednesday/Friday thing is fine. I did it personally for five years, and I still saw great results and got stronger in my diligence.
I know your head is probably swimming with all these facts and figures, but it does get easier. Just try your best and learn as you go-and don’t give up.
Q. How Many of Each Move Do I Do?
I will cut to the chase for those of you in a hurry: 3 to 5 sets per move is just fine.
For you real newcomers, let’s establish what a “set” is: It is a string of repetitions that you do without stopping.
For instance, if you pick up these neat little 2 lb. hand weights that are next to me right now and do 10 bicep curls, you did one set of 10 repetitions of bicep curls.
Got all that?
Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill! Don’t stay up all night wondering if you should do 3 sets or 5 sets.
Just pick one and see how you do. You can go up or down depending on your own needs. Even if you cannot make 5 sets at first, you will get stronger and eventually get there.
Just do your best to keep the grand total-that’s all your exercise moves combined-around 15-25 sets. You have 5 exercises x 4 sets per exercise=20 sets. That’s a good and very doable start for a beginner.
And here we go again with the old phrases: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Just get started and you will learn and get better as you go…not to mention stronger!
DON’T DO THIS! Many exercises for each part of the body with ten sets.
Unless you are an experienced bodybuilder, or an experienced athlete that is following a special plan given to you by your coach, you only need to do 4-5 sets for each of the five exercise moves in your routine.
Then, you cool down and get out of that gym (or park or living room).
Q. Okay, How Many Reps?
I repeat: Do not complicate this or overthink it.
If you are a newbie to working out or strength training, you will want to work toward a greater number of reps for each set but with lighter weights, because your focus is on learning the movements.
As your strength builds and you begin to understand your preferred way of training, you may consider moving to a lower range of reps, all the way up to one single rep at your absolute maximum effort.
You might do this on a squat, for instance-if you’ve ever seen those men and women lifting a huge weight, holding it for a second and then letting it fall, that’s what they’ve worked up to.
Here’s what to do to meet your individual goals and do the right amount of reps.
- Looking to burn up some fat but build muscle? Keep those reps between 8-15 per set.
If you are capable of doing more than 15 reps and you don’t feel challenged, you should increase the amount of weight you are using, or the difficulty of the move. You can do this with moves like lunges, push-ups, pull ups, and more.
Here are some expert pieces of advice to follow as a means of figuring out how many reps you should aim for in each of your sets, based upon your own fitness goals.
- Rep Counts in the 1-5 range build you quite dense muscles and big strength, and the scientific term for this is myofibrillar hypertrophy.
- By doing reps in the 6-12 count range you will build up somewhat equal amounts of strength and size in your muscles. This is scientifically known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
- Reps that are in the 12 and up range build your muscle’s endurance.
- Another important tip: Your diet is important! Eating a balance of healthy fats, carbs and proteins is critical to help you get bigger, stronger or both.
Put simply, you should do 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions for each of your moves. Then, see how your body feels. And whatever you do, eat right. You can work out for hours in a day, but if you don’t eat well, the results will not happen.
Q. How Long Between Sets?
Hey, remember our neat little rule from earlier: Keep it simple, sweetie.
I am now going to go over a basic method that you can use to figure out how long you should pause in between your sets. You can modify this based on your own abilities and on your own level of fitness.
Your main goal is to rest the least amount of time as possible but still feel good enough to do all the reps in your next set with good form and with safety.
Here are some suggestions. That’s all they are: suggestions! Modify them to your needs.
- 1-3 Repetitions, lifting very heavy weights for power and strengthening: Do a 3-5 min break.
- 4-7 Repetitions, lifting to bolster strength: Take a 2-3 min rest.
- 8-12 Repetitions, aiming to achieve size and endurance: Do a 1-2-minute rest.
- 13 repetitions and up, lifting to achieve endurance: Enjoy a 1 minute or less rest.
If you need a little more or a little less rest than what I have listed, go for it. Do your absolute best.
Write down how long it takes for you to rest in between your sets and do your best to rest for a shorter chunk going forward. Your body will get stronger and less rest will be needed; trust me!
Q. How Heavy Should I Be Lifting?
This is a tough one, because I cannot give you a magic number.
So, I will tell you the best advice as I know it:
You have to lift enough so that you can successfully and safely complete your sets, but not so heavy that you are depleted of all your energy at the completion.
The way to do this is none other than experimentation.
Try out different sizes and see what is too easy and what is too hard. If you are just starting, it’s okay to do “too easy” instead of going hard.
You would not want to risk injury just because you want to go hard.
If you are working with body weight, the goal is to find a way to make the exercise harder as you get in better and better shape.
Once you reach, say, 15 reps and you can do a certain exercise that was once hard for you with ease, it’s time to shake it up.
- Can you complete 20 pull ups with no issue? In that case it is time to start doing things differently. Try to pull up your chin over the bar and hold your weight there for as long as you can.
- Are 20 squats too simple for you? Pick up some hand weights and hold them above your noggin as you complete the next set. You can also try jump squats if your ability allows.
Q. How Long Should I Be Working Out?
OK, the quick and dirty answer for you folks in a hurry: 45 minutes-1 hour.
Doing 15-25 sets of total body exercise moves should have you completing everything within 45 minutes.
Add in the fact that you must do a warm up and then do some stretches after the fact, and the workout goes on a bit longer.
If you work out for an hour and you are not totally beat by the end of the session, you are not working hard enough.
It is not about quantity; it is the quality of your workouts.
If you do not have 45 minutes to devote to your workout program, it may help to work in some cardio alongside your weight training.
The Benefits of Alternating Sets
Here is a way to work out that will get those muscles pumping and keep you on schedule. Busy people around the world, pay attention!
Suppose you are doing five sets of barbell lunges and you then plan on doing five sets of hammer curls afterward.
If you wait three minutes or so in between the sets, this takes you around 30 or so minutes to complete everything from start to finish. This can be a real time killer for those of on a time crunch!
Do this to save time: Do your lunges, then wait one minute. Do one set of hammer curls, then do your next squat set. Rinse, repeat. So, on and so forth.
It’s great because you are working two different muscle groups and you can still get some work done while the other one takes a rest. You get your exercise done, but in half of the time. How’s that for working smart!
And because you are taking less of a rest, your body must work harder. Therefore, your heart is pumping even more. Winner!
So, here is a sample workout plan utilizing this strategy:
- Squats alternating with hammer curls, five sets per move, one-minute rest between the sets.
- Give yourself a few minutes to recoup, have a sip of water and catch your breath.
- Good Mornings alternating with dumbbell rows, five sets per move, one-minute rest between your sets.
- 3 sets of mountain climbers, do a nice stretch routine and get out of dodge.
Q. Tell Me About Circuit Training, Please?
Here is another efficient method of training that will get that fat burned up like a piece of paper in a furnace. How does it work, you ask?
- You are getting a cardio workout by quickly shifting from move to move.
- You are working different muscles one after the other, which gives each muscle group a moment to recover, but in a shortened amount of time.
If you know somebody who does CrossFit, this is what those workouts are based upon. It’s a great way to kick your own butt and feel really good about it after.
A circuit has you doing one exercise move right after the other, with NO STOPPING. And after you have done one set of each move in quick succession, you do it again-two or three times more, to be truthful.
Here is a sample beginner circuit that I really love.
Remember, do only what you can for the time being!
- 10 Second Plank
- 10 Lunges
- 10 Push Ups
- 10 Squats
- 10 Side Lifts
- 10 Jumping Jacks
Try to do this 4 times through. However, go at your own pace and stay safe.
There is no equipment needed for this workout, so even absolute beginners can do it right in their backyard, the park or the living room (just don’t knock your souvenir snow globe off the shelf like I did…gulp….)
Back That Thing Up (In a Workout Journal)
If you can look back and see how far you’ve come, you will be greatly motivated, and you will feel a strong desire to keep at whatever you are doing.
As your days of working out go on and on, you should find yourself getting stronger, fitter and faster.
Perhaps you can lift heavier now. Perhaps you make it through 10 reps of jump squats with no trouble. Or maybe you are taking less of a rest in between the reps!
It does not matter how you do the tracking. I’ve seen folks at my gym use those classic black and white composition notebooks all the way up to people typing it in on their tablets.
You can use Excel spreadsheets, too. (I use spreadsheets for every darn thing in my life).
I’ve logged thousands of workouts, and I love looking back to see how far I have come. I can improve in this manner and continue to get stronger and build my stamina.
And as always, we are going to use the KISS rule, and just write it down in the easiest and simplest manner possible. Here’s how.
- Record the date. Record the sets and reps you did plus the weights.
- Draw comparisons to yourself from a previous workout in which those exercises were completed.
- Think about what you can do to get stronger. Will you lift heavier weights, do an extra set, do more reps?
- Keep on doing this day after day. It will bolster those results, I promise!
Let’s Put It All Together
Here’s what we’ve learned, and we are going to sum it up into one condensed section, right here, right now.
This is all you need to start formulating your own workout program!
Want A Free Sample Workout Routine?
Free samples are great, I love getting free protein powder samples and other healthy snacks. Free sample workouts are fun, too.
Check out my suggestions if you just want to pick one up and try it out.
Body Weight Circuit Workout
I Want to Lose Weight!
The method by which you lose weight is simple: Just expend more calories than you burn. You might think that cardio is the ticket, but not so! Incorporating any of these sample workout programs will aid you in weight loss.
After all, muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, so it’s beneficial for you to make these weights your friend.
I Want to Get Stronger!
To get stronger, the ticket is to challenge yourself, and to focus upon doing smaller numbers of reps that are incredibly intense.
Just as we mentioned earlier, reps that are ultra-challenging and in the 1-5 rep range build those dense muscles we know scientifically as myofibrillar hypertrophy.
I Want to Build Muscle!
If you want to build muscle and strength, reps in the 6-12 count are your ticket.
This will get you the best of both worlds and still give you a great challenge.
If this is the case then I would like to recommend a muscle building program I used to pack on lean muscle and shred fat.
Let us close by saying this: You can make it! You absolutely can do this, and you can start today using only your body weight to begin.
If you have access to a gym, even better!
Get some paper and a pen, Google exercise moves that interest you for the five muscle groups we talked about and make yourself a plan.
Warm up and do the workout, stretch afterward and enjoy the good feelings you get from your hard work. It’s going to be so worth it when you see how far you go!