DESIGN YOUR OWN WORKOUT

In In The Gym, Magazine by RI Magazine

If you know what every workout needs, you can always design your own routine. Here are the elements that every full body routine requires, and suggestions on how to start designing your very own.

PUSH

Pushing movements engage the pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), and triceps. Classic pushing movements are the bench press, pushups, dips, military press, and all other forms of overhead pressing.

PULL

Pulling movements engage the latissimus dorsi (back), rhomboids (mid-back) biceps, and forearms. Classic pulling movements include pullups, deadlifts, bentover barbell rows, lat pulldowns, and seated cable rows.

SQUAT

Squats trump all other ways of working your legs, incorporating the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. In addition to classic barbell squats, this category can include bodyweight squats, sumo squats, goblet squats, single-leg squats, and sissy squats.

CORE

All abdominal exercises fit into this category, from basic situps and crunches to leg raises, Russian twists, planks, side planks, and cable rotations.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Designing your own workout from these choices is a simple matter of balance. For every rep of pushing, there needs to be an equal amount of pulling. Add a comparable amount of squatting and enough core work to make it challenging and you’ve got yourself a workout. Keep machine work to a minimum. Free weights are superior. Here’s an example of how to do it if you’ve only got 30 minutes. You’d perform this as a circuit with one minute of rest at the end of each round and no rest between exercises.

SAMPLE WORKOUT 1

EXERCISE REPS

Goblet Squat 15

Bench Press 10

Barbell Row 10

Squat Jump 10

Decline Pushup 12

Dumbbell Row 10 (each side)

Plank 60 seconds

If you had more time, say an hour, you could lose the circuit setup and perform straight sets, completing all sets and reps for each exercise before moving on, like so:

SAMPLE WORKOUT 2

EXERCISE SETS REPS

Barbell Squat 4 12

Deadlift 4 8-10

Pullup 4 10

Bench Press 4 10

Incline DB Bench 4 8-10

Russian Twist 2 50

Leg Raise 3 10

Cable Twist 3 10 (each side)

BEFORE YOU GO: Designing your own workout is going to take some trial-and-error as you figure out exactly how much volume makes it effective for you. The nice thing about doing it yourself, however, is that you can add reps on the fly—or merely pick up the pace—if you think it’s too easy. Likewise, you can do a little subtraction or slow down if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Whatever the case, don’t get caught up in the science of it and start worrying that your program wasn’t designed by an expert or performed by a movie star. Exercise science is inexact and can’t account for effort. As long as you’re being honest with yourself about how hard you’re working, you’ll get a positive effect from your training. Move briskly, but put proper form above all.