Getting tired of the same old gym routine? At a loss for what to do when you get to the gym? Find yourself flitting from one exercise to another without purpose or direction?
Don’t worry, you are not alone! These are common problems that many gymgoers experience.
However, while these problems might not seem serious, completing the same routine can stifle physical progression. The body will not adapt and develop if it is not challenged.
Varying your gym routine prevents boredom
In addition to causing stagnation, repetitive routines can also lead to training boredom. Of the many reasons why people quit exercising, boredom (along with slow to no improvement) is high on the list.
Therefore, it’s so important to change your gym routine from time to time. As well as stimulating your body in different ways it also stimulates your mind and motivation.
Arnold Schwarzenegger tells us that ‘changing your program’ every few months, ‘is necessary in order to … help keep you from getting bored,’ (The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding). Schwarzenegger lists other reasons why we should vary our gym routine regularly. Those reasons have been listed below.
Benefits of changing your gym routine
Can reduce training boredom
Engages the muscles in different ways
Forces the body to do new and unexpected movements
Helps to ‘shock’ the body into further growth
Increases stimulation of both body and mind
Get out of your comfort zone with these gym routines
To help you reinvigorate your gym routine, and break out of that comfort zone, we’ve created four workouts for you to try. Tailored to suit your ‘typical’ public gym, each workout has been crafted to bring about a different training effect.
The training effect – intended fitness outcome – has been outlined above the gym routine session plans. Also, you will find a list of health and fitness benefits. This way you’ll know which routine aligns most closely with your training aims.
Gym routine structure
Before getting stuck into the workouts, it’s worth reviewing how they’ve been structured. To maximise performance, improve safety, and reduce injury risk, each routine observes the standard training process.
That is, they feature the four essential components of a workout: warm-up, main session, cool-down, and stretch. However, to reduce cluttering the gym routine plans, an all-purpose ‘training process’ has been produced. Thus, all you have to do is apply it to whichever workout you select.
Components of a gym routine
All workouts and training routines should be comprised of a warm-up, main session, cool-down and stretch. The reasons why have been briefly outlined below.
In addition to providing an overview of the process the routines follow, the outline of the primary components can inform you of how to structure your workouts in future.
Warm-up – prepares the body for exercise and reduces injury risk
The author of the Royal Marines Fitness Manual tells us that ‘a simple, basic, planned and constructive warm-up conducted prior to exercise is worth its weight in gold.’ The primary reason why we should warm up before a workout is that it reduces injury risk. Each gym routine below begins with an appropriate warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes.
For a warm-up to be effective it needs to raise the core temperature and prepare the body for the main session. To achieve these outcomes, the warm-up must include a cardio component and resistance exercises from your main session.
Related: Best Warm-Up Exercises
Main session – supports progression to the long-term fitness goal
This is the section of the gym routine where we work on developing our fitness. We could achieve this by targeting a specific component of fitness – cardio or strength. If our focus is broader, say that you want to improve whole-body fitness, you might participate in circuits or CrossFit-style workouts.
Irrespective of the training method, the exercises and activities that we select for the main session should take us one step closer to our training goal.
Related: Need a workout?
Cool-down – normalises physiological systems
Completing a cool-down after a gym routine helps to normalise your heart rate and facilitate the removal of metabolic waste. In addition, cooling down can reduce the severity of the DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and serve as a preparatory phase for the stretch.
The cool-down need not be a complicated affair. Completing the warm-up in reverse – medium-/ high-intensity down to low-intensity – would suffice as an acceptable cool-down. Alternatively, you could perform a few light sets of the exercises in your main session.
Related: Benefits of Cooling-down correctly
Stretching – reduces post-exercise injury risk
We should always conclude our gym routine with a 5-to-10-minute full-body stretch. Post-exercise stretching has been shown to reduce injury risk, alleviate the DOMS and improve training performance. A basic stretch that targets the major muscle groups has been factored into each routine.
For a more comprehensive stretching routine, try this 10-Minute Whole Body Stretching Plan.
Essential reading: The Complete Guide To Stretching
Four gym workouts for you to try
The following four gym workouts have been crafted to cultivate a different fitness component. Of course, the routines can’t deliver the intended training effect in a single session. For best results, they must be included in your general exercise regime and completed a couple of times per week.
You can approach the gym routines in a few different ways. For example, you could focus on one routine a week, tailoring and modifying each time. Applying this approach would enable you to develop a specific component of fitness.
Alternatively, you have the option of integrating the four routines into your training regime. By way of example, Monday and Tuesday could be strength and muscle endurance days while Thursday and Friday could be cardio and circuit days. Selecting this method would provide you with a full-body training regime that promoted a broad range of fitness components.
Gym routine #1: Strength
The first gym routine has been designed to develop strength in the major muscle groups. To improve the effectiveness of the routine and make it easier to follow, the muscles have been compartmentalised.
Appropriate exercises have been assigned to each compartment. This way you’ll know which area of the body you’re training. Also, it makes it easier to customise the workout to suit your preferences.
Strength routine benefits
Increase strength in the legs, back, core, chest, and arms
Improve the stability of joints
Improve body composition
Improve the shape and aesthetics of your musculature
Tighten exercise technique
Gym routine #2: Muscle endurance
This workout is comprised of an eclectic mix of exercises. You’ll be transitioning through the full range of free weights, from barbells to dumbbells and finally kettlebells.
As well as enhancing muscle endurance, Gym Routine #2 provides a whole-body workout. And if you maintain a high output, it will also stimulate the cardiovascular system.
Muscle endurance workout benefits
Enhances muscle endurance
Activates all the major muscle groups (and many smaller synergist muscles)
Provides a full-body resistance workout
Has the capacity to stimulate the cardiovascular system
Gym routine #3: Cardio
For many ‘exercise enthusiasts’ cardio is treated with the same disdain as boiled veg. That is, something healthy we must choke down before we get the moral green light to move on to desert. Well, while no ‘exercise professional’ can transform cardio into chocolate cake (or should I say fruit salad?), there are some simple ways to make aerobic training a bit more appetising.
Related: Have a go at this HIIT Cardo Workout when you're done here
One such way is to split the cardio bouts into smaller (and tastier) bite-sized chunks. This approach has been applied to Gym Routine #3. In addition to breaking up the cardio, the exercises change after each short bout.
Furthermore, to broaden the training effect – intended fitness outcome – the cardio bouts are interspersed with a quick callisthenics ladder.
Cardio workout benefits
Improves aerobic capacity
Stimulates the cardiorespiratory system
Elevates heart rate for protracted periods
Raises metabolic activity
Burns fat and thus can improve body composition
Increases muscle endurance
Can enhance muscle tonality
Gym routine #4: Circuits
As we argue in the Hungry4Fitnesss Book of Circuits, organising exercises into a circuit is arguably the best training method for promoting complete physicality. The three routines above target a narrow range of fitness components – strength, muscle endurance, and cardio respectively.
Yet in a single circuit, elements of all three components can be included. Furthermore, ‘it is possible to construct circuits which emphasise different aspects of fitness’ while also sharpening sports-specific skills. Hence the reason why Watson states that ‘Circuit training is thus a way of developing all-round fitness,’ (Physical Fitness & Athletic Performance).
Circuit routine benefits
Engages a broad range of fitness components
Activates all the major muscle groups
Stimulates the cardiorespiratory system
Burns fat and builds muscle
Is completely customisable and boasts a plethora of possible permutations
Enjoyed these gym workouts?
Get your hands on 70 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 2.