There is none. The truth is that there is no perfect workout routine. The routine that works best for you might make someone else miserable. There are many factors to consider when planning out an exercise routine.
Starting a fitness routine can be overwhelming. There is a lot of information out there, and sometimes it can be hard to decipher what matters and what doesn’t. Should you lift weights or focus on cardio? Hit the gym three times per week or six? How many exercises per workout? Full body routine or body part split? Below are some considerations to make before packing up your gym bag.
What are Your Goals?
Your goals should be the number one thing determining your routine. If your goal is to build muscle or lose body fat, I would recommend prioritizing strength training. Many people falsely believe that cardio should be prioritized during a fat loss phase, but prioritizing strength training will ensure that the majority of the weight you lose is fat and not muscle. Strength training, along with a proper diet, will also help you build more muscle. If you have a performance goal, such as running a marathon or competing at a powerlifting meet, that specific modality should be prioritized. You will get some benefits from cross training, but the more specific your training is, the better you will perform in your sport. If your goal is simply to improve your overall health, focus on whichever area you are weakest in. That might be balance, strength, mobility, or endurance.
How Much Time Do You Have?
The length and frequency of your sessions will have to depend on how much time you can realistically commit. One of the biggest mistakes I see clients make is waiting until they have more time. Something will always come up. Start today and dedicate whatever time you can. Be honest with yourself. Do you have a small amount of time everyday, or a large amount of time just a few days per week? This might impact your body part split. If you have a large block of time available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but you are busy every other day of the week, you would probably be best off with a full body training routine three times per week. Your sessions might be a little longer, since you are training every body part. If the only time you have available is your 30 minute lunch break, you’ll be better off working out more frequently with shorter sessions. You might follow a push-pull-legs split and exercise six times per week, but for a much shorter period of time. If you can only workout one or two days per week, that is still plenty! You will be surprised by how much progress you can make in a year with weekly workouts.
What is Your Fitness Level?
If you have been active for a while, you probably know what your body can handle.If you are a beginner, take it slow! There is no reason to go from complete inactivity to exercising five days per week immediately. You will be much better off starting out with one or two days per week and allowing your body to adapt before ramping up your exercise routine. In the beginning, you will likely feel sore after performing just a few exercises. Working out several days per week for an extended period of time will leave you wiped out with inadequate time to recover. This also goes for anyone coming back to a fitness routine after several months or years off. Treat yourself like a beginner. Allow your body to adapt before introducing a more intense exercise program.
How Much Volume Can You Handle?
This goes in hand with my previous point; some people can just handle more volume than others. Some people recover just fine from a six day per week exercise split, while others need a few rest days. Some people can go for a hike, lift weights, and take a yoga class on the same day. For many, this would be too much volume. The only way to figure out how much volume you can handle is by trial and error. If you find yourself coming into your next workout incredibly sore, fatigued, and weaker than last time, you are overtraining.
What Do You Enjoy?
This is an incredibly important and often overlooked point. Many people say that they hate to exercise, but I think that most of them just haven’t found the right modality. It doesn’t matter what the most effective way to put on muscle mass or burn body fat is if you hate it so much that you never actually do it. Experiment with different modalities. If you find yourself dreading your workouts, try something new. This could be as simple as switching up your rep ranges or trying out new tempos. Try a new exercise class, go for a hike, enlist a workout buddy. Have fun with it!
Still Need Help?
Apply for personalized online coaching here! We will work together to develop the right plan for you based on your goals.