It’s the question I’m asked most frequently, how to create a workout that works? The answer is simple but it depends on what you determine as working. For me, I want my workout to test my ability, increase my heart rate, add a little sweat to my upper lip and leave me feeling full of endorphins for the rest of the day. If you’re hoping that your workout is going to give you immediate abs or a lifted booty after 20 minutes then no, you’re not going to create a workout that works.
Creating a workout is simple, it needs to be based around your goals, contain movements that will test your muscles, balance and fitness level while stimulating your brain and all to a timeframe you can stick to and with the equipment, you can actually use. I plan my workouts every Sunday after I’ve ordered my food shopping for the week. When writing a workout schedule I follow simple rules and factors which I’ve popped below for you to use.
‘How many times can i exercise this week?
How long can I exercise for during each session?
When will I have my most energy?
When am I most likely to lose motivation or cancel a workout?
What do I want to improve this week?
What don’t I like doing?
What do I like doing?’
The reason for asking these questions is because life happens. Too often we tell ourselves we’re going to workout five times a week for an hour at the gym but then a birthday party crops up, we’re away from home, we’re too tired, working late and the motivation slips. Before you know it, you’ve worked out once and have lost all motivation. This is NORMAL, which is why its a journey, not a destination.
Once I’ve answered those questions I can sit down with my diary and can plot how many times I can actually work out, for how long, scheduled around when I’ll have my most motivation and energy and focused around movements I enjoy and some I struggle with. The perfect combination.
When it comes to planning your workouts I recommend keeping it simple but effective and always allow yourself a little wiggle room to add in or remove movements that you might feel like doing or trying that day. There’s a couple of rules I stick to:
Split your workouts by muscle groups. This allows you to really focus on a certain part of your body and then when you wake up the next day walking like John Wayne, you can then focus on another area that doesn’t ache. I usually tell my clients to aim for Legs & Butt, Arms and Chest, Arms and Back or Core & Cardio.
Reps and sets have become so over-complicated so to avoid stress I recommend creating a ‘test set of reps” see how many reps you can do, if you can do more than 15 of a weighted movement then I’d recommend upping your weight, if you can’t reach 12-15 then I’d recommend reducing the weight. Three sets is usually a good amount if you’re looking to finish around 40 minutes and then if you have some free time you can add in an additional fourth set.
Personally I love to sweat so you’ll always find me adding in a cardio element to any workout to up my heart rate and test my recovery rate. You don’t have to spend an hour on a treadmill to add cardio to a workout, simply adding in any of the below movements to a routine or circuit will do the same and test your ability while keeping you interested. Burpees, squat jumps, skipping, running, box jumps, hillclimbers etc.
In truth there is no wrong workout, you can in fact team any movement together as long as you do it with good form and without pain or injury. I recommend picking 5 to 6 movements and repeating in a circuit style for three to four sets and to a number of reps that you struggle with. I also filmed a full video on this which you can click here to watch. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you feel about creating your own workouts and feel free to send across some workouts for me to try!