Over the years I have tried so many different workout routines, I have completely lost track. Here is a partial list of the things I have tried:
- Pure ‘boot camp’ style training (a form of Interval Training)
- Pure cardio days (running, biking or elliptical machines, etc)
- Olympic Lifting based workouts (like the stuff you see in the Olympics)
- Power Lifting based (squat, bench and deadlifting primarily)
- Body Building Routines (high reps, a little less weight to put on muscle)
- Strength Training routines (a vast amount of typical lifting workouts in endless combinations)
My career as a shot putter and discus thrower dictated I focus largely on strength training with minimal cardio work. That has changed quite a bit over time. Now I do a challenging mix of strength training and cardio routines. In fact, I have come up with a template I want to pass along to you. This hybrid routine takes the best part of strength training and interval training and combines then into a challenging and effective workout.
This routine can be used by anyone and is easily modified for various strength and conditioning levels; meaning it can be used by a beginner or advanced individual.
First the simplistic overall layout:
- Warm up: 5-8 minutes
- Strength training: Approximately 25-30 minutes
- Cardio-vascular work: 20-25 minutes
- Flexibility work: 5 minutes
The entire routine is designed to be completed in 1 hour or just over. On the surface, this looks like a very brief strength training workout. That is correct. This training program is NOT designed for a 20-30 something trying to look like a super hero or even a high school football player eager to gain size for next season.
Just to be clear, this routine WILL help those in their 20-30’s if your goals are general health and fitness; just not those looking to dominate the grid iron.
Who else would benefit?
- Female athletes involved in sports with a large cardio demand
- Males out of college looking to stay fit
- Anyone over age 30 – male of female – fighting busy schedule
- Anyone experiencing a somewhat sedentary lifestyle
Here are the simple rules of the program:
- When lifting, if you take longer than 30-45 seconds between sets, you’re socializing.
- When doing your cardio NEVER do steady-state (one speed) activities for the entire time. Always change up your speed frequently – IT’S THE LAW!
- Complete the workouts 3 times per week
- Day 1 = lower body focus
- Day 2 = Upper body focus
- Day 3 = Total body focus
Here is how the weight lifting looks.
You will do three exercises in a row with 30 seconds rest focusing on the major movements of the day based on the above Day 1, 2 and 3.
Then you will do 2 exercises in a row with 30 seconds rest or less, focusing on areas of weakness you know you have; i.e. a past injury or a muscle group you would personally like to see improve for personal or purely esthetic reasons.
You then finish with two exercises for known commonly injured muscles; i.e. rotator cuff, calf (for men), knees, lower back, etc.
The exercises are done in a series #1, #2, #3 and then repeated. Don’t do the same exercise 3 times in a row.
Here is a sample routine with an upper body focus:
A1 Dumbbell Bench Press 10-12 reps Rest 30 seconds (Upper body -push)
A2 Lat Pulldown 10-12 reps Rest 30 seconds (Upper body – pull)
A3 Step up 8-10 reps each leg Rest 60 seconds (Lower body)
Repeat 4 times
B1 Overhead Dumbbell Press 8-10 reps Rest 30 seconds (upper body – push)
B2 Leg Curl 8-10 reps Rest 45 seconds (lower body – opposite lower
body movement above)
Repeat 4 times
C1 External Shoulder Rotation 10 reps No rest (injury prevention)
C2 Terminal Knee Extensions 20 reps No rest (injury prevention)
Repeat 3 times
Once you catch your breath, you immediately begin your cardio routine for the day. Depending upon your fitness level, you might start with a cardio routine that looks like this:
Walking pace 1 minute
Jogging pace 1 minute
Running pace 1 minute
Repeat 6-7 times. As your conditioning improves, you can increase the number of cycles.
If you cannot run for any reason, start with just the walking and jogging combination and repeat 10-12 times. If you have bad knees, this routine works great with bikes or elliptical machines to avoid knee impact.
I have listed this template as having three days. If it is virtually impossible for you to get into the gym three times in one week, you can start off with two days.
However, to tell the truth, if you can’t set aside two hours or more to tend to your health each week, you will surely pay a higher price later.
Once you get used to a three day per week routine, you can add additional days as needed with unique workouts. My preference is boot camp style circuits. They are quick, challenging, improve the right energy systems and even improve mobility and general athleticism. These sessions can be a brief as 20 minutes but create a fat-burning effect that lasts for hours.
I realize plugging in the actual exercises can be a challenge. If you would like me to help you with that, I would be happy to. The other option is to plug in your own movements using the description I provided after each exercise such as: (Upper Body – pull, lower body, etc)
Finally, the is workout structure us TOUGH. Start slowly and build up. You will see results fairly quickly, especially when paired with the right nutrition.