Contents

The Ultimate Workout Routine for Men (Tailored for Different Fitness Level)

Now is as good a time as any to focus on getting your body into the best shape possible.

Whether you want to build muscle or completely transform your body, if you follow the right workout routine for men, you will get exactly what you need. (No! It’s never too late to start bodybuilding, here’s the proof.)

Finding the right workout routine, however, is tough. You see, in order to progress, you need to find a workout that appeals to you and is feasible based on your abilities.

In this article I’m going to list 3 workout plans for men to build muscle. Each workout routine is tailored for individuals of different abilities: a beginner routine, an intermediate routine and an advanced routine.

What’s so special about this workout routine for men?

There are plenty of workout routines out there for men, so what is it about these routines that are so special? Well, they are tailormade to each unique individual, rather than covering a broad demographic.

Basically, each routine is engineered towards an individual’s ability levels and fitness levels in the gym.

It wouldn’t be much use having a very fit and healthy bodybuilder, with many years of training under his belt, following a workout routine for men that is aimed at complete beginners. He will already know what he is doing and will find the routine far too easy. On the flipside, if he is looking for a new and challenging workout routine, he can follow the advanced program and will enjoy great results.

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With that in mind, here are the three routines to try the next time you’re in the gym depending on your unique level of fitness:

Beginner full body workout routine

To start with, we’ll be taking a look at a beginner workout routine.

This workout isn’t too difficult; though, for those new to health and fitness, it will certainly prove challenging.

Day 1: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs, Biceps, Triceps

  • Chest – Barbell Bench Press – 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Back – Lat-pulldowns – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Shoulders – Seated Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Legs – Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Biceps – Barbell Bbicep Curls – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Triceps – Triceps Rope Pushdowns – 3 sets of 15 reps

Day 2: Legs, Triceps, Biceps, Chest, Back, Shoulder

  • Legs – Leg Press Machine – 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Triceps – Overhead Bar Extensions – 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Biceps – EZ Bar Curls – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Chest – Machine Chest Press – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Back – T-Bar Row – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Shoulders – Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 20 reps

Day 3: Shoulders, Back, Chest, Legs, Triceps, Biceps

  • Shoulders – EZ Bar Upright Rows – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Back – Close-Grip Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Chest – Cable Fly – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Legs – Lunges – 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
  • Triceps – Skullcrushers – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Biceps – Hammer Curls – 3 sets of 12 reps

Intermediate workout for men

This next workout is ideal for those of you who are advanced enough to challenge yourselves in the gym without going crazy.

This workout routine will help you burn a steady amount of fat without burning yourself out in the process. It is a typical 5 day split that will yield impressive muscle gains.

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Day 1: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

Chest

  • Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 10, 10, 8 (adding weight) reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Chest Dip – 3 sets of MAX reps

Triceps

  • Skullcrushers – 3 sets of 8-10 Reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Extension – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Tricep Extension – 3 sets of 10 reps

Shoulders

  • Barbell Front Raise – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 4 sets of 15, 12, 8, 8 (adding weight) reps

Day 2: Back and Biceps

Back

  • Wide Grip Pull Up 3 sets of MAX reps
  • Lat Pull Down – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Straight Arm Lat Pull Down – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Machine Reverse Fly – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Upright Row – 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Biceps

  • Standing Barbell Curl – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Preacher Curl – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curl – 3 sets of 10 reps

Day 3: Legs

Quads, Glutes and Hamstrings

  • Squat – 4 sets of 10,10,8,8 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunge – 3 sets of 8 on each leg
  • 45 Degree Leg Press – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Leg Curl – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Leg Extension – 3 sets of 15 reps

Calves

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  • Standing Calf Raise – 5 sets of 10,8,8,8,6 (heavy)reps
  • Seated Calf Raise – 5 sets of 15 (light) reps

Day 4: Shoulders, chest, and Triceps

Chest

  • Barbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 10, 10, 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Flys – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Cable Crossovers – 3 sets of 10 reps

Triceps

  • Close Grip Bench Press – 4 sets of 10, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Lying Dumbbell Extension – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Tricep Kickback – 3 sets of 10 reps

Shoulders

  • Seated Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 10, 10, 8, 8 reps
  • One Arm Cable Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 12 reps

Note:

Every second week superset bench press and dumbbell flys.
Crossovers: Ultra slow rep timing with 2 second pause and squeeze at the top of the movement.

Day 5: Back and Bis

Back

  • Seated Row – 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent Over Row – 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Smith Machine Upright Row – 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Biceps

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  • Cable Curl – 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Concentration Curl – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Reverse Barbell Curl – 3 sets of 10 reps

Advanced Workout Routine For Men

Now it’s time for us to take a look at the more advanced workout routine. This routine will really separate the men from the boys.

It is high intensity, includes a lot of heavy lifting, and you should aim for minimal rest between sets.

Here you will be training for 6 days per week, with just one day of recovery. It may sound brutal, but if you stick with it you will soon be reaping the rewards of an incredible physique.

Day 1: Chest & Back

  • Barbell Bench Press – work up to a 5 rep max for the day
    • Set 1 at 50% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 2 at 60% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 3 at 70% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 4 at 80% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 5 at 90% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 6 at 100% – 1 set of 5 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dips – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Pullups – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Pendlay Rows – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Pulldowns – 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 2: Legs

  • Squats: work up to a 5 rep max for the day
    • Set 1 at 50% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 2 at 60% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 3 at 70% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 4 at 80% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 5 at 90% – 1 set of 5 reps
    • Set 6 at 100% – 1 set of 5 reps
  • Leg Press – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Hamstring Curls – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Calf-Raise – 5 sets of 10 reps

Day 3: Shoulders & Arms

  • Military Press or Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 6-8
  • Lateral Raises – 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Barbell Curls – 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 4: Rest

It’s your rest day. Rest your muscle to prepare for the next round of training.

Day 5: Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps

  • Flat Dumbbell Press – 5 sets of 20-6 (Pyramiding) reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Hammer Strength Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Cable Flys – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Lateral Raises – 5 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Reverse-Grip Pull-Downs – 5 sets of 15-20 reps

Day 6: Back & Biceps

  • Barbell Rows – 5 sets of 20-8 (Pyramiding) reps
  • Barbell Shrugs – 3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Rack Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Pullups – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Pulldowns – 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 7: Legs

  • Front Squats – 5 sets of 20-8 (Pyramiding) reps
  • Leg Extensions – 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Hamstring Curls – 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise – 5 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Standing Calf Raise – 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, above I have outlined three of the best workout routines for men that you could ever wish for.

Each workout is tough in its own way, but if you stick with it, push through the pain and squeeze out those extra reps at the end, your body will thank you. Plus, you will look better than ever before.

More Recommended Health & Fitness Experts on Lifehack

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Featured photo credit: via .com

A Four-Week Gym Routine To Get Big And Lean

How much can you transform your torso in just four weeks? A lot – so long as you follow this 16-session training plan to the letter. It’s been designed to work your chest and back muscles twice a week – which means your biceps and triceps also get a double whammy of workload – to completely push these major muscle groups outside their comfort zone so your body has no option but to repair the damage by building a bigger, stronger and more defined body. You’ll also hit all your other major muscles, including your legs, to increase your fat-burning potential so you can get bigger and leaner – fast.

How the plan works

In each of the four weeks of this 28-day plan you will train your chest and back twice. Sound like a lot? It is! But in some plans you only hit each muscle group every seven days, which isn’t enough of a stimulus to force your body into making positive physique adaptations.

But in this plan, doubling up each week on chest and back exercises – and therefore also working your biceps and triceps twice a week, once directly and once indirectly – will provide all the stimulus your body needs to get bigger in less time. And fear not, your shoulders, abs and legs won’t miss out on the size and strength gains: they will still get enough dedicated time each week to allow them to grow bigger and stronger.

Simply do the workouts in order, sticking to the exercises, sets, reps, tempo (explained below) and rest periods detailed. The first workout of each week targets your chest and triceps, the second your back and biceps, the third your legs and chest, and the fourth your back and shoulders.

All four weekly workouts are made up of five moves, which you’ll perform as straight sets, so you’ll simply work through moves 1 to 5 in order. That’s it!

Tempo training

To get the full effect from these workouts, you need to stick to the four-digit tempo code for each exercise. The first digit indicates how long in seconds you take to lower the weight, the second how long you pause at the bottom of the move, the third how long you take to lift the weight, and the final digit how long you pause at the top. X means that part of the move should be done explosively. The accumulated time under tension increases your heart rate to burn fat and break down muscle tissue so it’s rebuilt bigger and stronger. Keep each rep smooth and controlled so your muscles – not momentum – do the work.

Diet tips

Even if you follow every step of the workout plan to the letter, you won’t see the results you want if you’re not backing up your work in the gym in the kitchen. The obvious first steps are to cut down on fast food, takeaways and booze, and after that it’s all about getting your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and support your training regime.

A minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is a good place to start. More than that is even better, although keep your daily fruit portions to two. You should also ensure you’re getting 30g of fibre every day. Opt for wholegrain varieties where possible with your carbs to help on the fibre front.

Adequate protein intake is also essential, because it provides the fuel you need to repair and rebuild muscles after a tough workout. When training regularly you should aim to consume about 1.4-2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. You can use protein powder to help, but it’s not hard (and much tastier) to get that amount of protein from food if you’re eating the right stuff. This guide to the best sources of protein will help, as will these run-downs of high-protein foods for vegetarians and vegans.

If it all sounds like too much work when you’re visiting the gym four times a week, another option is to use a healthy meal delivery service. These will deliver meals to your door that are tailored to your exact requirements, so all you have to do is stick them in the microwave. It’s more expensive than meal planning and cooking for yourself, but less expensive than a Deliveroo habit – and it’s undoubtedly the most convenient way to support this training plan if you’re struggling to maintain a healthy diet.

Warm up

Before you start following the workouts below – or any kind of exercise – it’s crucial that you take the time needed to warm up correctly. Ahead of tackling any of the workouts in this plan we highly recommend trying this quick gym warm-up routine from Yasmin Saadi, director and personal trainer at The Fitting Rooms gym.

It involves doing seven set moves like downward dog walk-outs and lunges with rotation that warm up muscles all over the body, then going into exercises that are specific to the workout you are about to do. The simplest way to do the latter is to scan through the workouts detailed below and then do one or two warm-up sets of each exercise using either very light dumbbells or an unloaded barbell.

You’ll reap the benefits of taking five to ten minutes to warm up correctly in the form of both a reduced risk of injury and improved performance during your workout. Try it once and when you smash your first few sets instead of struggling through them, you’ll never need to be convinced of the value of a proper warm-up again.

Workout 1: Chest And Triceps

1 Bench press

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Lie on a flat bench holding a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then lower the bar towards your chest. Press it back up to the start.

2 Triceps dip

Sets 5 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2110 Rest 60sec Grip rings or parallel bars with your arms straight. Keeping your chest up, bend your elbows to lower your body as far as your shoulders allow. Press back up powerfully to return to the start.

3 Incline dumbbell press

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Lie on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Press the weights up until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start under control.

4 Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Lie on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand above your face, with your palms facing and a slight bend in your elbows. Lower them to the sides, then bring them back to the top.

5 Triceps extension

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Stand tall holding a dumbbell over your head with both hands, arms straight. Keeping your chest up, lower the weight behind your head, then raise it back to the start.

Workout 2: Back And Biceps

1 Pull-up

Sets 5 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec Hold a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then pull yourself up until your lower chest touches the bar. Lower until your arms are straight again.

2 Bent-over row

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Hold a barbell using an overhand grip, hands just outside your legs, and lean forward from the hips. Bend your knees slightly and brace your core, then pull the bar up, leading with your elbows. Lower it back to the start.

3 Chin-up

Sets 3 Reps 6-10 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec Hold a pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing you. Brace your core, then pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Lower until your arms are straight again.

4 Standing biceps curl

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec Stand with dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

5 Seated incline curl

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec Sit on an incline bench with dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

Workout 3: Legs And Abs

1 Back squat

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Stand tall, holding a bar across the back of your shoulders. Keeping your chest up and core braced, squat down as deep as you can. Drive back up through your heels to return to the start.

2 Good morning

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec Stand tall holding a light barbell across the backs of your shoulders, feet shoulder-width apart. With your core braced, bend forwards slowly from the hips, as far as your hamstrings allow but not past horizontal. Return to the start.

3 Glute bridge

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec Sit with your upper back supported on a bench, holding a barbell across the tops of your thighs. Thrust your hips up, squeeze your glutes at the top, and then return to the start.

4 Incline dumbbell press

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2110 Rest 60sec Lie on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your shoulders. Press the weights up until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start under control.

5 Incline dumbbell flye

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec Lie on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand above your face, with your palms facing and a slight bend in your elbows. Lower them to the sides, then bring them back to the top.

Workout 4: Back And Shoulders

1 Overhead press

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Hold a bar in front of your neck with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest up and core braced, press the bar overhead until your arms are straight. Lower it back to the start.

2 Rack pull

Sets 5 Reps 10 Tempo 2111 Rest 60sec

Stand tall in front of a barbell resting on safety bars at knee height. Bend and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, then stand up until your back is straight again, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.

3 Seated dumbbell press

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2010 Rest 60sec

Sit on an upright bench with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up, press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start.

4 Lateral raise

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Stand tall, holding a light dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping your chest up and a bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower back to the start.

5 Reverse flye

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Tempo 2011 Rest 60sec

Bend forward from the hips holding a light dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower back to the start.

What Next?

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I get multiple emails and messages per day asking:

“Steve, what should I do for a workout?”

Well, partner, today is your lucky day.

I’m gonna help build you a custom workout program, step-by-step!

After all, a workout should be developed around a person’s age, goals, nutritional strategy, free time, etc.

Not only that, but it’s easy to overcomplicate this process – there are an infinite number of exercises, sets, reps, and programs to choose from.

Now, if you’re somebody that wants to skip all of that, and JUST want to be told what exactly to do:

We build customized workouts for our Online Coaching Clients and would love to have you. We get to know your story and struggles, your goals, and your lifestyle, and develop a workout plan that fits your schedule.

Want a customized workout plan you’ll ACTUALLY do? Learn more:

Now, if you’re more of a “figure this stuff out on my own” kind of person – we’re going to dig into how to build your own workout plan today!

We’ve also created a free resource for folks who want to build their own workout but would love some more specific direction and instruction.

You can download our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, which covers all of this stuff in a single guide:

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

OKAY! Are you ready to start building your own routine and want to know how its done?

Great! Let’s do this:

  • Step #1: Determine your “Get in Shape” situation!
  • Step #2: “What exercises should I do to lose weight (or build muscle)?”
  • Step #3: “How many sets and reps should I do per exercise?”
  • Step #4: “How long should I wait between sets?”
  • Step #5: “How much weight should I lift?”
  • Step #6: “How long should I exercise for?“
  • Step #7: How to create supersets and circuit training workouts.
  • Step #8: “How many days per week should I train?”
  • Step #9: How to record your workouts and progress.
  • “Steve, just BUILD a workout for me!”

Step #1: Determine Your “Get in Shape” Situation

As we lay out in our “How to get in Shape” guide, we need to answer a few key questions:

QUESTION 1: What are your goals?

  • Are you trying to lose weight? Awesome.
  • Are you trying to bulk up or build muscle? Great.
  • Are you preparing for your first 5k? Swell.

Whatever your goals are, it’s good to write them down and be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish.

These goals will shape HOW you build your workout.

QUESTION 2: How much time can you devote to exercise?

If you can do an hour a day, that’s fantastic.

If you have a wife or husband, three kids, a dog, two jobs, and no robot butler, then maybe you only have thirty minutes, twice a week.

That’s fine too!

Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is crucial.

Why spend two hours in a gym when you can get just as much accomplished in 30 minutes, right?

Here’s the good news: weight training is the fat-burning prize fight victor, and efficiency rules all.

So whether you are building muscle or looking to lose weight, a strength training workout will get you the results you’re after (when combined with the right eating strategy!)

While we’re talking about time, let me quickly mention something important:

Proper expectations!

As we cover “how fast can I get the body I want,” make sure you are thinking about your journey with a realistic timeline:

QUESTION 3: WHERE do you want to work out?

  • At a gym? Here’s a Beginner’s Gym Guide with 6 levels of workouts.
  • At home? Have you tried our beginner bodyweight workout?
  • In a park? Try our park workout.

Where you work out will largely determine if you are going to train with bodyweight, or if you can start doing gym strength training.

At this point, we should have:

  • Determined your “get in shape” goals.
  • Decided how much time you have to train.
  • Picked WHERE you want to work out.

We can now start to build your workout routine, your daily workout plan, and your monthly workout schedule!

Let’s do it.

Step #2: What Exercises Should I do to lose weight (or build muscle?)

I like to follow the motto of “Keep it simple, stupid.”

(Note: I am not calling you stupid. You’re reading Nerd Fitness, which means you’re intelligent, good looking, really funny, and most of all, modest.)

The best workout is the one that you actually stick with, and people make things FAR too complicated and try to target a bazillion different individual muscles with six types of exercises for each body part.

It’s exhausting, unnecessary, inefficient, and intimidating.

So keep it simple!

We’re going to pick 5 exercises, and get really strong with those movements.

This is the ENTIRE philosophy behind our Strength 101 series.

Unless you’ve been strength training for years and know what you’re doing, we recommend that you pick a full body routine that you can do 2-3 times a week.

You want a workout routine that has at least one exercise for your:

By targeting compound movements that recruit multiple muscles at the same time, you can build a full body routine that uses only four or five exercises.

Hows THAT for efficiency!

Here is a quick breakdown on which exercises will work for each of those movements:

  • Quads – squats, lunges, one legged squats, box jumps.
  • Butt and Hamstrings – deadlifts, hip raises, straight leg deadlifts, good mornings, step ups.
  • Push (chest, shoulders, and triceps) – overhead press, bench press, incline dumbbell press, push ups, dips.
  • Pull (back, biceps, and forearms) – chin ups, pull ups, bodyweight rows, bent-over rows.
  • Core (abs and lower back) – planks, side planks, exercise ball crunches, mountain climbers, jumping knee tucks, hanging leg raises.

Not sure how to do any of these movements?

Want more examples? Check out:

The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere!

Pick one exercise from each category above for a workout, and you’ll work almost every single muscle in your body.

Get stronger with each movement each week, and you have yourself a recipe for a great physique.

Here is an example of a great, effective simple gym workout:

You don’t need to make things more complicated than this!

(Not that we humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things to the point of paralysis and inaction…)

Ahem.

If you’re not sure how to do any of the movements above, click on their links for thorough write-ups and video demonstrations.

Pick one exercise from EACH category above, specifically ones that scare you the least, and that will be your workout every other day for the next week.

The great news: the above workout routine will work whether you’re looking to bulk up and build muscle OR if you’re trying to lose weight.

You simply adjust your calories consumed – which is 80% of the equation – and that’s how you’ll start to change your physique.

STEVE’S BIG PIECE OF ADVICE: GET STRONG.

Get really good at these basic movements and focus on getting stronger each week (I’ll cover how below).

If you get really strong at squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and push-ups, you will build an incredible physique to be proud of.

Then, once you get confident in those movements, feel free to add some variety.

Why?

If you do the same exact routine, three days a week, for months and months, you might get bored, and start slacking, or you might hit a workout plateau.

So if you find yourself getting bored, feel free to stick with the above ‘formula,’ but change the ingredients:

  • If you do bench presses on Monday, go with overhead presses on Wednesday and dips on Friday.
  • Squats on Monday? Try lunges on Wednesday and Front Squats on Friday.
  • Do deadlifts every Wednesday, but change up the sets and reps you pick!

If you hit a plateau or find yourself getting bored, pick a different exercise to improve so you’ll stay challenged, and you’ll actually DO the workout!

Then, focus on getting stronger! (You are writing down your workouts, right?).

I know it’s really easy to overcomplicate this process as there are an infinite number of exercises, sets, reps, and programs to choose from.

And yes, we have a solution for people that JUST want to be told what exactly to do: our uber popular 1-on-1 coaching program pairs you with your own Nerd Fitness Coach who will get to know you, your goals, and your lifestyle, and develop a workout plan that’s specific to not only your body, but also to your schedule and life:

Our Coaching will change your life. Learn how!

Step #3: How Many Sets And Reps Should I Do?

SIMPLE ANSWER: Not including a warm-up set or two, I recommend:

  • 3 to 5 sets per exercise.
  • 8 to 10 reps per set when starting out.

LONGER ANSWER: As we cover in our “How many sets and reps?” guide, a “set” is a series of repetitions that you complete without stopping.

For example, if you drop down and do 10 push-ups right now, you just did 1 SET of 10 REPETITIONS (or REPS) of push-ups.

Got it? Cool.

Some general rule on repetitions you can follow as you’re starting to build your workout plan:

  1. If you’re looking to burn fat while building muscle, keep your number of repetitions per set in the 8-15 range per set.
  2. If you can do more than 15 reps without much of a challenge, consider increasing the weight or the difficulty of the movement. This is true for things like lunges, bodyweight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.

There are some other generally accepted ‘rules’ – as pointed out in Starting Strength – about how to determine how many reps you should target per set, based on your goals:

  • Reps in the 1-5 range build super dense muscle and strength
  • Reps in the 6-12 range build a somewhat equal amounts of muscular strength and muscular size
  • Reps in the 12+ range build muscular endurance.

A 2015 study called into question the best rep strategy for building muscle or size:

“It appears that high-intensity resistance (sets of 3-5 reps) training stimulates greater improvements in some measures of strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men during a short-term training period .”

What this means: Do not freak yourself out by worrying if you should do 4 sets or 5 sets of 8 reps or 10 reps.

Our advice would be to START with lighter weight and more reps as you learn the movement, and then decide if you want to stay at higher reps and lower weight or vice versa.

You do you, because either one will get you results!

The only thing you need to worry about: get stronger the next time you do that movement: either pick up a heavier weight, or do 1 more repetition than last time.

“JUST GIVE ME THE ANSWER!”

Keep your TOTAL (all exercises combined) workout number of sets for all exercises is in the 15-25 set range, with 8-10 reps per set:

5 exercises total, each with 4 “work sets” is a good start.

Remember, the most important part is to get started – you’ll learn how your body responds and you can adapt as you go.

What you DON’T need to do: multiple exercises for each body part with 10 sets.

A BIG CAVEAT: How you eat will determine if you get bigger or stronger. Nutrition is 80-90% of the equation. So pick a range that feels good, and then focus on nutrition.

And if you don’t want to figure any of this out and just want to be told exactly how what exercises, sets, and reps to do, our online coaches can take care of that for you.

Step #4: How Long Should I Wait Between Sets?

Keep it simple, you “smart, good looking, funny, modest person” you.

Below is a basic formula for you to determine how long you should wait between sets, but this can be adjusted based on your level of health.

The goal is to wait the least amount of time you need, but still rest enough that you can perform all reps of the next set safely and properly!

Here are some guidelines for how long to rest based on how heavy you’re lifting (not rules set in stone!):

  • 1-3 Reps (lifting heavy for strength/power): Rest for 3 to 5 minutes between sets.
  • 4-7 Reps (lifting for strength): Rest for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.
  • 8-12 Reps (lifting for size/strength): Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
  • 13 Reps+ (lifting for endurance): Rest long enough to recover to allow you to do the next long-ass set!

If you need more or less rest than the above recommendations, that’s fine.

Do the best you can, record how long it takes you to rest between sets, and try to rest for shorter periods in the future.

Your body will adjust as you get stronger and healthier!

If you want more information on how much you should lift, how many reps, and when to scale certain movements or adjust your workout, check out our Strength 101: Everything You Need to Know.

It’s free when you join the Rebellion with your email in the box below:

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

Step #5: How Much Weight Should I Lift?

We have a FULL resource on how to determine your starting weight for lifting, but I’ll give you the gist here.

The simple to learn but tough to implement answer:

“Lift enough so that you can get through the set, but not too much that you have NO fuel left in the tank at the end.”

How do you determine how much that is?

Trial and error.

ALWAYS err on the side of “too light” versus “too heavy” when starting out.

It’s better to say “I bet I could have done more!” instead of “that was too much, and now I need to go to the hospital!”

If you’re doing exercises with just your body weight, you need to make each exercise more difficult as you get in shape – once you get past 20 reps for a particular exercise and you’re not gassed, it’s time to mix things up.

Can you do 20 push-ups no problem? It’s time to start mixing them up to be more challenging. Pick a variation from this article and make yourself work for it!

20 bodyweight squats too easy? Hold some weights high above your head as you do the next set. Eventually, you can scale up to do exercises like the pistol squat:

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A post shared by Steve Kamb (@stevekamb) on Dec 16, 2014 at 9:29am PST

Looking for more bodyweight exercises? Check out our list our our favorite 42 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.

And if you’re not sure how to scale bodyweight movements, or you are interested in mixing things up and want guidance…

Our Online Coaching will change your life! Learn how here:

Step #6: How Long Should I Exercise For? How Long Should My Workout Be?

Easy answer: 45 minutes to an hour.

Longer answer: If you’re doing 15-25 sets of total exercise (3-5 sets for your 5 exercises), you should be able to get everything done within that 45-minute block.

Now, factor in a five or ten-minute warm-up, and then stretching afterwards, and the workout can go a little bit longer.

If you can go for over an hour and you’re not completely worn out, try increasing the intensity.

Less time, more intensity, better results.

What if you don’t have 45 minutes?

Do the best you can!

Maybe you want to build some cardio into your weight training.

That’s where these next section comes in.

Step #7: How to Create Supersets and Circuit Training Workouts

Strength training in a circuit training workout is the most efficient way to burn fat when exercising:

  • You’re getting a cardio vascular workout by consistently moving from exercise to exercise.
  • You’re exercising different muscles back to back, giving each muscle group a chance to recover, but in a condensed amount of time. Efficiency for the win!

If you’re familiar with CrossFit, many of the workouts are built on circuit principles.

This is also the most effective way to make you involuntarily swear at inanimate objects because you’re so tired and beat up.

We’re going to cover TWO things here:

  • Super sets (or alternating sets).
  • Workout circuits.

SUPERSETS:

Do a set of squats, wait one minute, then do a set of dumbbell presses, wait one minute, then do your next set of squats, and so on.

Because you’re exercising two completely different muscle groups, you can exercise one while the other is “resting.”

You’re now getting the same workout done in half the time.

Also, because you’re resting less, your body has to work harder so your heart is getting a workout too. Jackpot.

Let’s see how this would play out in a sample workout:

  • Lunges alternating with incline dumbbell presses, four sets each, one minute between sets.
  • Wait a few minutes to catch your breath and get set for your next two exercises.
  • Straight leg deadlifts alternating with wide-grip pull-ups, four sets each, one minute between sets.
  • 3 Sets of planks, stretch, and get the hell out of there!

CIRCUIT TRAINING:

A circuit requires you to do one set for EVERY exercise, one after the other, without stopping.

After you’ve done one set of each exercise in succession, you then repeat the process two, or three, or four more times.

I’ve written about multiple bodyweight circuits here on the site:

  • Beginner Body Weight Circuit
  • Advanced Body Weight Circuit
  • Beginner Kettlebell Circuit

You can download our Beginner Bodyweight Worksheet too to help you get started:

Grab Your Beginner Bodyweight Routine Worksheet. No Gym Required!

  • Complete this workout at home, no equipment required
  • Avoid the common mistakes everybody makes when doing bodyweight exercises
  • Learn how to finally get your first pull-up

We have also 15 FREE circuits you can follow in our big Circuit Training roundup guide!

And lastly, we love building circuit training routines for our Coaching Clients – and we’d love to build them for you too:

Let our coaches build a program for you!

Step #8: How Many Days per Week Should I Train?

We get this question quite a bit, usually from overeager beavers who decide they are going to go from “sitting on couch watching The Office on repeat” to “exercising 7 days per week.”

I would advise something different.

I mean you can still watch The Office, but you don’t need to be training 7 days a week!

We don’t want you burning out quickly and falling back to square one, a concern we mention in our guide “How Often Should I Work Out?“

Instead, focus on building proper habits and set a goal of 2-3 full body workouts per week.

For starters, your muscles don’t get built in the gym.

They actually get broken down in the gym, and then get rebuilt stronger while you’re resting…watching The Office.

By giving your muscles 48 hours to recover between workouts, especially when training heavy, you’ll stay injury free and get stronger.

A Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout routine works well to ensure enough time to recover, especially when you are just getting started.

If you want to do Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, or Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday, great.

Personally, I stuck with a Monday-Wednesday-Friday full day routine for nearly 10 years and just focused on getting stronger with each movement.

These days, I train on Monday-Wednesday-Thursday-Saturday (my workouts on Wednesday and Thursday don’t work the same muscles!)

“But Steve, what if I WANT to exercise on my off days?” That’s fine!

Pick “exercise” that’s fun for you, that won’t exhaust your muscles.

Lifehack: Program your workouts INTO your Google calendar (or Outlook).

You’re much more likely to do a workout that has been planned for in your work-week!

Alternatively, you can hire a coach to program your workouts for you, so every day you know exactly what you need to do!

Step #9: Keep Track Of Everything!

Last but not least, keep a workout journal!

As they say, that which gets measured gets improved.

You should be getting stronger, faster, or more fit with each day of exercise.

Around these parts, we say “Level up your life, every single day.”

So track and measure your progress!

Maybe you can lift more weight, lift the same amount of weight more times than before, or you can finish the same routine faster than before.

I track all of my workouts in Evernote.

I note the sets, reps, weight, and date.

I have over 1,000 workouts in my folder, which makes it super simple to see what I did last month, or even last year, and to make sure I’m improving!

You can use an actual notebook, a bullet journal, an excel spreadsheet, a workout app, or a word document.

Don’t overcomplicate it:

  1. Write down the date and your sets, reps, and weight for each exercise.
  2. Compare yourself to your previous workout with those exercises.
  3. Focus on getting stronger (more reps, heavier weight, an additional set, etc.)
  4. Repeat.

Do this with a workout you’ve built, and you WILL get results. I promise.

Here’s how to properly track your progress and set a new personal best every time you train.

Steve, Just Build a Workout For Me!

If you’re looking for sample workouts to build off of, take one of the 6 Workouts in our “Gym 101” guide.

Or if you want a plan to follow, pick one of our 15 Circuit Training Routines!

If you want to build from scratch, great! Let’s break it down into easy chunks with this recap:

  • ALWAYS warm up – 5-10 minutes on a bike, rowing machine, jumping jacks, run up and down your stairs, etc. Get the blood flowing and your muscles warm.
  • Pick one exercise for each big muscle group – quads, butt and hamstrings, push, pull, and core.
  • Do 3-5 sets for each exercise.
  • Do 5-10 reps per set for each exercise.
  • Determine how many reps and how long you’ll wait between sets for each exercise. Keep it simple. 60 seconds.
  • Increase your efficiency and work your heart by doing supersets or circuits.
  • Keep your workout to under an hour.
  • Stretch AFTER your workout.
  • Write everything down!
  • Give yourself permission to mess up, keep learning and improving it as you train more regularly!

More often than not, when I email people back and tell them how to build their own workout, they generally respond with:

“Steve, can’t you just TELL me what to do? I’m afraid of building a crappy workout.”

Why we built THREE options for people like that:

1) If you are somebody that wants to know they are following a program that is tailor made for their life and situation and goals, check out our Online Coaching Program.

You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition for you.

Want a workout program you’ll ACTUALLY do? Great! Learn more here:

2) Good at following instructions and want a blueprint to follow?

Check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy.

20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.

Join the Nerd Fitness Academy! One payment, lifetime access

3) Join the Rebellion (our free community) and I’ll send you free guides, workouts, and worksheets that you can read at your leisure.

We need good people like you!

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

I certainly encourage you to try and build your own workout routine.

It can really help you develop a sense of excitement and pride when you start to get in shape based on your workout!

If you have more questions, or have a workout program you’re really proud of, share it in the comments below!

-Steve

PS: Check out the rest of our beginner content. I promise, it kicks ass 🙂

  • Strength Training 101: How to Get Strong
  • How to Lose Weight Without Dieting: 5 Rules.
  • Beginner Strength Workouts
  • 42 Bodyweight Exercises you can do anywhere
  • How to Find a Good Trainer
  • Beginner Gym Workouts (6 Levels)

Photo Sources: mdwombat, joshtasman: Question Finger 6, black.zack00: Yeaaaah…. Surprise ladies!!, Sterling College: Sterling Gym, ako_law: Stopwatch, black.zack00: Boxing a gentleman’s sport, Photographing Travis: Kettlebells. ahockley: DDC Stuff Sheath and EEEK Field Notes

How to Start Working Out

When was the last time you did squats? High school PE class?

Or maybe you tried running a few months ago but lost your motivation?

No matter how far you are now from your desired fitness level…

Remember this:

It just takes one second to decide you’re worth it, 10 minutes for your first workout, and 2 weeks to feel a difference.

Everything you need to successfully start and maintain your workout routine is summed up in this helpful guide:

Exercise 101: What you need to know before you start

Benefits of exercise (well-known & less known)

Almost everyone knows exercise improves your health. However, a lot of people aren’t aware of all the benefits of exercise.

Top benefits you can look forward to when you start working out:

  • Reduced risk of chronic disease(1)
  • Better mood & mental health(2, 3)
  • Balanced energy levels throughout the day & better sleep
  • Slowing of the aging process(4)
  • A boost to brain health(5)
  • Positive effect on the microbiome(6)
  • A boost to sex life

How much exercise is recommended weekly for health benefits?

The general exercise recommendation is:

  • Cardio (minimum amount of activity): At least 150 minutes of moderate cardio throughout the week. It can be replaced with at least 75 minutes of intense cardio throughout the week or a combination of both.
  • Strength training (highly recommended): Exercises involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
  • For extra health benefits: Minimum cardio should be increased by an additional 300 minutes per week (moderate) or 150 minutes of (intense) cardio per week (or a combination of both).(7)

While it may sound like a lot, the good thing is that you can adjust this to your schedule. As long as the cardio activities are performed for at least 10 minutes, you can divide your active minutes into as many workout sessions you like per week. Whether you do strength or cardio first depends on your goal.

Types of exercise

What are some common types of exercise?

  • Cardio: Anything that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe faster can be considered cardio. However, it usually refers to activities aimed at improving your endurance and stamina such as:
    • Moderate cardio: Brisk walking, dancing, jogging, cycling, swimming…
    • Intense cardio: Running, fast cycling, brisk walk up a hill, swimming laps…(8)

  • Strength training: Any type of activity that uses resistance to build muscular strength. Using your own bodyweight as resistance has many benefits!
  • Flexibility & mobility training: Exercises focused on maintaining and improving passive range of motion (flexibility) and active range of motion during movement (mobility).
  • HIIT: HIIT or high-intensity interval training consists of intense bursts of exercise (strength or cardio) followed by rest intervals, aimed at keeping your heart rate elevated. Find out more about the difference between low-intensity, steady-state cardio, and HIIT cardio.

What is the best type of exercise to lose weight?

Any type of exercise that requires high effort (for you) will have similar effect – especially for beginners.(9) So the truth is, it doesn’t really matter! Find activities that you enjoy and can imagine doing for more than just a month or two. In the end, weight loss is about calorie deficit. So make sure to adjust your nutrition for best results.

Tips to get started with exercise

First step: reach the fitness level where you don’t feel like you “hate exercise” anymore. Here’s how to do it…

Choose your inspiration & set a goal

How many times have you decided to lose 5 kg and then failed? Take a different approach and decide what you want to get good at first. Think of what you want to be able to do – whether it’s running 30 minutes non-stop or crossing that marathon off your bucket list, getting into better shape so you are more energized and productive at work or keeping up with your kids as you get older. Find your inspiration and then set yourself long-term and short-term goals.

The following video will give you an in-depth motivational introduction on how to set the right goals for your fitness journey:

Start small & track your progress

Starting small means focusing on short term goals first.

Focus on one week at a time. Get in your workout for the day. Then complete the next workout. Make it a challenge to find that 15-45 minutes in your day, as often as possible, to just get more active.

Once the first week is finished, look back and take it a step further – aim for one more workout or just 5 additional minutes of running in the next week.

Establishing a workout routine and sticking to it is more important than the duration & type of workouts you are doing. On days when you really have no time, even short 7-10 minute workouts can provide health benefits, especially for beginners.

It takes time to see results. That’s why you need a tracking system that will show you how you improve day by day and motivate you when you are not feeling it. The adidas Running app and the adidas Training app can support you on your fitness journey – from the first workout to your yearly running goal. Be proud of every active minute that you add to your schedule!

Expect setbacks & have a plan b

Skipping a workout or getting a cold shouldn’t throw you off your game. Everyone experiences setbacks. Often even after the first 2-3 weeks.

The goal is not to be perfect, but to get better with time. The important thing is that you don’t give up. Just like you don’t quit school because of a bad grade or don’t quit your job when you face a challenge.

Here are some options for what to do when you experience a setback:

  • Planned a workout but suddenly feel like you have no energy at all? If you already feel exhausted in the morning, take a break from exercising and really focus on what you eat during this rest day to improve your nutrition. If you start feeling too tired later in the afternoon, take a walk to relax and get some movement in your day.
  • Feeling stressed or lost motivation for your workout plan? It’s normal to get overwhelmed. Skip a day and focus on getting enough quality sleep.
  • Skipped a couple of days and now you feel bad? Think about what caused this – was it a cheat meal, a tough day, or just a packed schedule? Learn something from it, because it will happen again. Prepare yourself to continue where you left off. Every setback can bring new insights and motivation if you are ready to look deeper 😉

Extra tips for beginners

Check your health

It’s always good to get advice from your doctor or physical therapist before making big changes to your lifestyle, such as starting a new workout routine – especially if you are over 45, suffer from any chronic illness, or had injuries in the past.

Don’t exhaust yourself right away

No pain, no gain? Should you really be pushing yourself as a beginner? Yes, but only for the sake of consistency.

How long does it take for your body to get used to working out?

It depends on how long it’s been since the last time you were in shape… but don’t be discouraged by sore muscles. A common saying is that “it takes 2 weeks to feel a change, 4 weeks to see a change, and 8 weeks for other to notice it, too.”

Push yourself to be more active, but don’t do an exercise when you are in pain. The real battle is in your head, and it’s about getting through the first months. Once you make it a habit and learn how to perform all the exercises, it’s time to push yourself even harder in your workouts.

Think about your form

Avoid injury and get better results by learning from common exercise mistakes. When you start out, it might feel overwhelming to consider so many tips on form. Focus on getting better in one exercise every couple of days, not all at once. And if you don’t feel ready to perform a certain exercise – don’t force it. There are always other options and ways to replace exercises with easier variations. Do what you can with good form and be patient: strength & endurance come with consistency!

Workouts & training plans

Interval runs, slow runs, HIIT training, Tabata workouts, yoga… there are so many workouts you can do without equipment:

Running workouts

Many people discover their love for running later in life, so it’s always worth giving it another try. Prepare yourself for these challenges that await beginner runners and don’t make the most common runner’s mistake. Here are a few examples of training plans that might be useful:

  • A training plan to go from walking to running (perfect for beginners!)
  • Running workouts you can do in 15 minutes
  • Creative workouts that combine strength training and running
  • Training plans for treadmill running workouts
  • Running workouts to improve endurance: long, slow runs & HIIT running workouts

Home workouts without equipment

  • Abs, total body, foam rolling: 6 different bodyweight workouts
  • Beginner’s HIIT workout & more: 5 quick workouts you can do on vacation
  • Booty & abs: 21 minute HIIT workout
  • Total body: Tabata workout in just 15-minutes
  • Wake up workout: 7-minute energizer workout to start you day
  • Abs: 4 core-focused workouts to do at home
  • Yoga, recovery, abs…: 7 indoor workouts you can do during winter
  • Low impact workout (no jumping) for people with bad knees
  • Extreme 10-minute full body workout challenge

Need more ideas? Get a personalized 12-week training plan in the adidas Training app – starting with just 2 workouts per week!

Set a goal to do at least 2 workouts this week and don’t forget to play some motivational workout music!

***

If you’re like a lot of people, you made a resolution to start exercising this year, but you didn’t see it through. Maybe you were too busy, afraid of hurting yourself or just hate going to the gym.

If you fall into this camp, don’t give up yet. Science has found a number of ways to boost your chances of keeping up an exercise routine. To find out the best way to start exercising, Live Science consulted the latest exercise guidelines and interviewed experts in sports medicine and exercise physiology. We wanted to know how much exercise people need to do to be healthy, what exercises they should do and how they can avoid injuries when starting out.

Experts said that exercise doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive; you don’t have to join a gym or buy new workout clothes to become more active. And there’s no single workout routine or type of exercise that’s considered “the best.” The most important thing is that you like the activity you choose to do. This could be anything from walking or swimming to taking a dance class.

“You should pick an exercise program that fits you,” said Dr. Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. To start exercising, you have to be willing to make a lifestyle change, he stressed. “You have to enjoy it. It has to be affordable reasonable within time constraints. That’s the best exercise program for anybody, because it’s sustainable,” Jonesco said.

Below, we’ll review the basics of starting an exercise program. It’s important to note that although moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, is safe for most people, if you have a chronic health condition, or if you’re worried about whether you’re healthy enough for exercise, you should speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

How much exercise do you need?

Here are tips to get you started on an exercise routine. (Image credit: Purch Creative Ops)

According to the most recent physical activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults should get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. There are many ways to divide up those 150 minutes over the course of a week, but most experts recommend breaking up that time into 30 minutes of physical activity, five days per week.

But you don’t necessarily have to block out a continuous half-hour to do your exercise for the day. As long as you’re active for at least 10 minutes at a time, your activity will count toward your overall exercise for the day, said Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. For example, you could walk for 10 minutes before work, another 10 minutes during your lunch hour and another 10 minutes after dinner, Laskowski said.

Indeed, a number of studies suggest that doing three separate 10-minute bouts of exercise daily is just as good as getting 30 continuous minutes of exercise. For example, a 2001 study of overweight women found that those who exercised in 10-minute bouts at a moderate intensity, three times a day, saw just as much improvement in their aerobic fitness (as measured by VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen used by the body per minute) as those who exercised for 30 minutes all at once. Both groups also saw similar reductions in their weight over 12 weeks.

It’s not yet clear if bouts of exercise that are even shorter than 10 minutes, but that still add up to 30 minutes a day (for example, six 5-minute workouts) can be recommended to benefit health. However, some recent studies suggest that such shorter bouts do, indeed, have health benefits. In a 2013 study of more than 6,000 U.S. adults, researchers compared people who met the physical activity guidelines (30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily) by exercising in bouts of 10 minutes or less to people who exercised for longer periods. They found that both groups fared similarly in terms of key markers of health, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and waist circumference.

(Image credit: Man sit-ups via )

If you do more vigorous activity, like running, you can spend less total time exercising each week. The HHS guidelines say that 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous activity per week is equivalent to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. A recent study also found that as little as 1 minute of all-out sprinting, along with 9 minutes of light exercise, leads to similar improvements in health and fitness as a 50-minute workout at a moderate pace, when done three times a week for 12 weeks.

The HHS exercise guidelines also recommend that people do muscle strengthening activities at least two days per week. Strength training is important for building muscle mass, which increases the number of calories the body burns overall. In addition, if you don’t do strength training, the body will naturally lose muscle mass with age, and your body fat percentage will increase, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Strength training also helps to strengthen bones, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis, the Mayo Clinic says.

Strength training includes any exercises that challenge the muscles with resistance, Laskowski said. For example, push-ups (either on the floor, or the easier version, done against a wall), sit-ups, weight lifting or even intense gardening, like digging and shoveling, work to strengthen muscles, according to HHS.

How do you get started?

Although the goal is to do 30 minutes of exercise in a single day, you might need to work up to this amount if you’ve previously been sedentary.

A general rule is to “start out low, and progress slow,” Laskowski said. This means starting with a level of activity that’s fairly light, and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your exercise.

Exercising with a friend makes your workout more enjoyable, and may mean you’re more likely to stick with it. (Image credit: Jogging friends photo via )

Kelly Drew, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine, said she usually recommends starting with 20 minutes of exercise a day, three days a week. From there, people can increase the duration of their exercise so that they reach 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Once they can accomplish this, they can start adding more days of exercise, until they get to five days a week, Drew said.

How do you avoid injury?

Although it’s important to pick exercise activities that you enjoy, the experts also emphasized that if you’re just starting out, low-impact types of exercise are best. Good ones to try include walking, swimming, biking or using an elliptical machine.

Low-impact exercises are best for exercise beginners because they’re easy on the joints and muscles, Laskowski said. By contrast, high-impact exercises, which involve lots of jumping or ballistic movements (think CrossFit or an exercise boot camp), put more stress on the muscles and joints, and can cause injuries such as strains or sprains when you’re just starting out, Laskowski said.

(Image credit: Halfpoint .com)

People should also start with an honest evaluation of their current fitness level and capabilities, Drew said. For example, a person who used to do football drills in high school but hasn’t done those drills in 20 years could injure himself or become sore if he tried to do those drills again right away, Drew said.

Following the “10 percent rule” also may help people avoid injuries. This means you increase your activity by 10 percent per week. For example, if you jog for 100 minutes during one week, you should aim for 110 minutes the next week, Drew said.

As you become fitter, you should be able to do longer and more intense exercise. “The body is amazing in its ability to adapt, and the more established you become in a workout program, the more your body is going to be able to withstand the stresses that’s put on it,” Jonesco said.

How do you keep up a routine?

There are many barriers to exercising regularly. The biggest issue for most people is time, Drew said. “No one has time to exercise — it’s about finding the time, making the time,” she said.

Here are some of the most common reasons people stop exercising, and tips on how to overcome these barriers. (Image credit: Purch Creative Ops)

As little as 10 minutes of exercise can be beneficial, so people can look at their schedules to see where they might fit in 10 minutes of exercise, Drew said. This can be as simple as parking a little farther from your workplace, and walking 10 minutes to and from your car, Drew said.

Setting a specific exercise goal, such as running a 5K or improving your time, can also help you stay motivated to keep up your routine, Drew said.

It may also be a good idea to exercise with a friend, or to get a personal trainer, which holds you accountable. “You’re a lot less likely to miss , because you have someone waiting for you,” Drew said.

And if you think you just hate to exercise, you might benefit from a type of talk therapy that helps people accept negative feelings and uncomfortable sensations. Several recent studies suggest that this therapy, called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), can boost people’s physical activity levels and improve fitness in those who previously didn’t exercise at all.

What if you have a chronic health condition?

People with chronic health conditions should speak with their doctor before they begin an exercise program, to find out how their condition may limit their activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can work with your doctor to come up with a routine that fits your abilities, the CDC says.

If you haven’t previously been active, or if you have risk factors or symptoms of heart disease, you may need an exercise stress test to determine if your heart is healthy enough for physical activity, said Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist and assistant professor at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver. This is important because strenuous exercise may precipitate a heart attack in people who are out of shape and have risk factors for a heart condition, Freeman said.

An exercise stress test, which is often done on a treadmill, involves gradually increasing your exercise effort while having your heart and blood pressure monitored. The heart is monitored with electrodes on the chest, which doctors use for an electrocardiogram (ECG), and blood pressure is monitored with a blood pressure cuff on the arm.

This test can help check for coronary artery disease, a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The test can also identify abnormal heart rhythms during exercise, according to the National Institutes of Health.

If you’ve had a recent heart attack or heart surgery, a type of program known as cardiac rehabilitation can help you exercise safely, and improve outcomes. This can involve a supervised exercise program that lasts several months and gets harder as the weeks go on, Freeman said.

Another common chronic disease that may require people to take precautions while exercising is diabetes. Exercise is good for the management of diabetes, but it can cause your blood sugar to drop, Drew said. Therefore, people with diabetes should not exercise on an empty stomach, and should check their blood sugar level before and after exercise, to make sure it’s not dropping too low, Drew recommended.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

9 Tricks to Help You Start Working Out and Actually Stick to It

Work out in the morning and get it done. Getty Images

You know you should exercise. But how do you keep up your dedication to the gym or a training routine when your schedule is overloaded with a million other things from work to household responsibilities to travel and other social engagements? Or how do you push yourself to start working out if it’s been years (or basically forever) since you last had a good self-imposed sweat?

Understanding the big picture of why physical activity is critical for your physical and mental well-being, not just for weight loss, is a good place to start.

Ever experience that classic “runner’s high”? It’s not just in your head. Exercising releases hormones called endorphins that promote feelings of euphoria and help you focus. (1) Working out also improves cardiovascular health and sleep quality, both of which improve your energy levels throughout the day and reduce the risk of a variety of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers, according to research published in April 2015 in the Journal of Sleep Research. (2)

Moving your body more is also associated with a reduced risk of depression, according to a recent review of decades of research published in the January 1, 2016, issue of the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy. (3)

Pretty impressive. But the truth is, you may have all this knowledge and still find yourself wanting to hit the snooze button when it comes to those early morning workouts — or your couch if you’re an afternoon exerciser.

That’s why intentional, strategic habit changes, based on your personality, schedule, likes, and dislikes can make all the difference in whether or not you stick to your workout plans or get thrown off track.

We asked sports psychologists to share their top tips for finding a workout you’ll actually enjoy and sticking with it for the long haul. Here’s what they say.

1. Find a Workout You Enjoy and Look Forward To

Just because all your friends love spinning or CrossFit doesn’t mean you do, too. Finding a workout you genuinely like will make you that much more likely to stick with it over time, says Kristen Dieffenbach, PhD, an executive board member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and an associate professor at West Virginia University’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences in Morgantown.

“Begin by really thinking about the things you enjoy — nature, group settings, playing sports, quiet time, or being challenged. Then look for activities that meet one or more of your criteria,” she says.

Consider your personality, too, suggests Dr. Dieffenbach. Do you like competition? Then working out with a friend who challenges you or taking a group fitness class may be helpful. Do you like immediately seeing the results of your efforts? Then workouts associated with an app that tracks your progress, like Strava for running and cycling, may be very motivating.

2. Pick Workouts That You’re Good At

“We know from motivation research that humans have a desire to be ‘good’ at something,” says Brandonn S. Harris, PhD, an associate professor and the program director of Sport and Exercise Psychology at Georgia Southern University School of Health and Kinesiology in Savannah and Statesboro. “So I’d encourage people to not only seek out things they find pleasurable and enjoyable, but also things that they’re confident doing or would like to become more proficient in.”

That doesn’t mean the activity will necessarily be easy for you. Unless it’s an activity recovery day, every workout should push you in terms of endurance or muscle building. But, there’s no need to struggle through a Zumba class because you hate memorizing the combinations.

On the other hand, if you excelled in sports as a kid, joining an adult basketball or soccer league may be a huge confidence booster (as well as deliver all the health and fitness benefits of a workout). Or if there’s a physical skill you’ve always wanted to be able to do, such as self-defense, you may love suiting up for kickboxing or jiu-jitsu.

4 Stages of a Proper Workout Session

4 important steps in a proper workout.

Step One: Start with a warm up.
Warm-up is not stretching, as what we have been taught in schools. Start with light cardio work to warm up those muscles. Take about 5 to 10 min of lighter workout at the bike or treadmill.
When you stretch when your muscles are cold, you may end up spraining it.
After the warm up cardio, you may stretch if you wish.

Step Two: Actual Workout
You may now start with more intensive cardio workout. You should not do intensive cardio for more than an hour as it will deplete the critical glycogen storage in your muscles. After cardio, you may perform a bit of weight training.

Step Three: Cool-down- (light cardio)
When you do intensive cardio or weight lifting, lactic acid may accumulate in your muscles. The only way to get rid of it from your muscles- is by movement & circulation- so, just like your warm-up, you do light cardio for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step Four- Stretching.
Experience sore muscles or stiffness after your workout? Or having to endure sore muscles for few days after workout? I strongly recommend that you incorporate stretching in your post workout. Do not underestimate the power of stretching. Incorporate stretching after your workout and you will feel great- you’ll walk easier and it will lessen your muscle sprain or injury. I speak from my personal experience- this really works. For a good cool down, spend about at least 10 minutes.

Start with some leg and hamstring stretches. Do some sun salutation, triangle post, spinal twist, followed by waist and arms stretch. Or else, you can skip Step Three and Four and replace it with yoga/ Pilates class. Warmed muscles work extremely well with yoga and Pilates- you will find yourself sweating like you have never been before.

The 4 Stages of Muscle Recovery (and how to speed them up)

What’s the secret to faster post workout recovery? The answer lies within the body’s natural muscle recovery process. Discover how each stage works and what you can do to make sure your recovery is quick and effective.

The 4 Stages of Recovery

There are four main stages that regulate muscle recovery when you’re adequately hydrated, nourished, and rested. Muscle activation, which happens through movement, is vital to each stage.

Stage 1: Delivery of nourishment

To repair damaged tissue, nourishment and supplies need to be delivered to the area so the recovery process can begin. When your skeletal muscles are activated, they send a signal to your smooth muscles that surround blood vessels to relax. Once relaxed, your blood vessels dilate and circulation increases, allowing more nutrients and supplies to be transported to the damaged tissue.

Stage 2: Waste Removal

To keep waste from building up and leading to swelling or further damage, the next stage involves the process of removing waste. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste, but it’s a passive system. Activation of the muscles that surround lymphatic vessels is required to push out the waste.

Stage 3: Tissue Regeneration

During this stage of recovery, myokines are produced and released into your body. Myokines are the proteins in the body that drive tissue regeneration. Muscle activation provides the mechanical stress required to produce myokines so that your damaged tissue can be repaired.

Stage 4: Remodeling of Repaired Tissue

After tissue has been repaired, it then needs to be remodeled. When new tissue is formed, it creates a random pattern that makes it hard for the tissue to slide smoothly past one another. The tissue needs to be rearranged in straight lines so it can function properly. Mechanical stress, or movement, allows the repaired muscle tissue to optimally remodel. Failure to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue leads directly to dysfunctional movement.

How to Speed the Stages of Recovery

Movement is the natural facilitator for the recovery process. Normal amounts of movement (ie. doing your normal routine, errands, etc.) will result in a normal rate of recovery. However, if you’re training, lifestyle, or age requires you to recover quicker, you will need to do something out of your normal routine. Adding in the right amount of movement, or muscle activation, will speed the process. This is why active recovery is a popular technique for athletes and is proven to be the most effective way to improve recovery. With traditional active recovery, there are some limitations that can effect your recovery results. Discover how Marc Pro perfects active recovery.

Stages of a workout

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