It’s not as difficult as you might think. Start with your goals. Let me guess: Lose some fat, gain some muscle?
Let’s start with a very simple yet effective workout. It may seem too basic, in fact. But the fewer the variables, the easier it will be to know what’s most effective. This is more than enough to get you started on the way to being in your best shape. You can always add complexity down the line.
You don’t need to work out every day of the week in order to get your goals. Living in the gym is… living in the gym. I like training but I think we’d all agree that there’s much more to life.
Pick three nonconsecutive days to train. Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, for example.
Choose a time of day that you’re going to stick with. Some people find it easier to work out in the mornings. Others prefer the evenings. Neither is objectively better. What’s better is that you find a time when you can do it consistently.
Keep each session under an hour. 45-60 minutes is plenty. If it takes much longer than that, most likely there’s a lot of chillin’ going on or it’s not a very intense regimen.
Give it your all for an hour and use the other 23 hours in your day to accomplish your other life objectives.
Pick one compound leg exercise. (Examples: squat, deadlift, leg press.)
Pick one upper body push compound* exercise. (Examples: bench press, incline bench press, overhead press.)
Pick one upper body pull compound exercise. (Examples: pull ups, chin ups, rows, lat pull-downs.)
Here’s a sample workout:
- Take a few minutes to warm up. Do some light calisthenics or ride an exercise bike to break a sweat. Don’t tire yourself out.
Then for each exercise, do the following:
- Warm up set of about 10 repetitions with light weight. Rest 1-2 minutes.
- 3 working sets of 10 repetitions. Choose a weight you can control. It should be heavy enough to challenge you, especially the last 2-3 repetitions. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. After you’re finished with all the sets of one exercise, move on to the next exercise.
- Once you complete the 3 exercises, take a little time to stretch and cool down.
That’s it. It’s simple but not easy. As with any program you’ll need to push yourself in order for it to work.
Tracking your workouts is key. Use an app or old fashioned paper, it doesn’t matter. Keep track of what you’re doing in the gym. You won’t have to guess what you did last time or what you should do this time.
Once the 3 sets of 10 gets easy, increase the weights you use. Early on, you may find yourself getting stronger each week. Over time the gains will come slower. This happens to everyone.
Progress will happen if you’re consistent.
Outside the gym, if you want your best results, you’ll have to pay attention to your diet. Write down everything you eat. You don’t need to track every calorie and macronutrient (but you can if you want to). Just being intentional about your intake is helpful.
Three sessions per week, each session under an hour, and watch your food intake. That’s it.
Now get after it!
*Compound exercises are ones where you use more than one joint. For instance, in doing a bench press, you’ll use your shoulders and elbows to move the weight. This works the larger muscles in the body which means you’ll get stronger faster. In contrast, an isolation exercise only uses one joint. An example of this would be a biceps curl, where only the elbow joint is involved. There’s nothing wrong with isolation exercises, but compound exercises are more efficient in building strength.