Updated: Feb 21, 2019
How much should I exercise during a typical workout session and how many time during the week should I work?
These are questions I get asked a lot!
It is of course not an easy thing to do to build up your own workout programme.
On the one hand there is the internet, which is a great source of information. You can google and search for whatever you want to know online; how to get big bigger arms, to develop your chest, to get bigger, to get stronger, etc.
When it comes to practise, however, it is a different story.
Over the years, many people have come to me, asking for the perfect workout programme, asking what should I do to succeed in the gym?
For me, there is a central problem here in that many people seem to be confused by what it means to be fit as a starting principle.
'Fit', for example, is a word that is used everywhere for analogous reasons.
So, let's be clear: To my mind being fit is to be able to perform an exercise utilising good form and to repeat those movements over a structured sets without taking too many break in-between.
As such, the first thing to bear in mind is that the intensity of your session equates to the quality of your session.
For example, do you spend 20 minutes on a bench press to do 3-4 set?
If so, then it is time to change and to speed up your routine.
Over an hour, you should be able to do 7-8 exercises (and this hour include the cardio' vascular and abs' elements, as well as a degree of stretching.
To turn these guidelines into a deliverable plan:
For every sessions, start with a cardio vascular exercise to set you up mentally and physically for what is to follow.
This can be on the treadmill (achieving a reasonable distance such as 1-2k, whilst maintaining a good speed) or it can be in rowing or cycling.
For myself, I recommend running as that is the cardio' vascular exercise that has the most impact (see my earlier blog post on this!).
After that, it is time to hit the gym floor.
For large muscle groups, such as the chest, back, legs:
Achieve 3-4 exercises, which should be enough to cover the whole of these areas.
Within 30 minutes, you should have completed your cardio' and your large muscle group muscle exercises.
From this point move onto a small muscle group, such as biceps, triceps and shoulders.
2-3 exercises should be enough to fulfil this part of the workout brief.
Again, a little cardio' vascular at the end of this part of the workout, plus hitting your abs' should conclude your workout session.
During the week 2-3 sessions are enough to cover the whole body.
Then for the third or fourth session you can go for a full body workout, applying 2 exercises per muscle.
Every 2-3 weeks, you should change the exercise programme, by tweaking it here or there, to keep the workout focussed and sharp. For example, after the first 3 weeks doing bench presses with a barbell, change and go for chest press dumbbell instead, or use a chest press machine.
Also, keep in mind that the more intense your session, the more efficient the results will be, and your metabolism will also be boosted as well.
Finally, in my opinion it is not a good idea to go to the gym every day. This is because your body needs time to recover, so if you do want to exercise more regularly remember that you can swim, or run outside, or do some other outdoor sport/activities.
A gym is a place to exercise, not primarily to meet new people (there are plenty of other social spaces for that).
When you go on the gym floor, be efficient and be smart.
Then go home and think about something else.