WORK OUT SMARTER, NOT HARDER
This post may contain affiliate links, which help support this blog. Always consult your doctor before trying a new health, fitness, or beauty routine. Please read my disclaimer for more info.
Do you feel like you don’t know where to begin at the gym, or working out at home? Are you confused how to create a well-rounded fitness routine to meet your goals?
Then let me help! This is an in-depth guide with everything you need to know to create the perfect fitness routine for you.
Whenever I go to the gym, I often see the same people doing the exact same workout. Every day, they show up, they work out….. and they see no results.
Or I talk to people who get intimidated by weightlifting because they don’t understand how or what to do.
And even more, I see people given a routine or found one online and have no idea if it’s even a good workout for them, or why they are doing it that way.
There’s a lot of issues with this. For one, you aren’t listening to your body to see results. If you found a routine but don’t understand it, how can you know if it’s working for you? Two, if you get stuck in a rut and you’re always doing the same exercises — you’re not pushing your body anymore. You stagnate, and your body becomes used to what it’s doing so you stop seeing results. Three, when you understand what you’re doing and proper form, it helps prevent injury.
But the biggest problem? It gets boring. So many people quit because they don’t understand their routine to make it fun and keep it exciting!
No matter who you are or what you’re doing, you need to understand the breakdown of your workout.
Now, I am not a fitness trainer or an expert — but knowing this info has helped me in my routine, so I wanted to share what I know.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR BEST Fitness ROUTINE
When you’re deciding your routine, you need to consider a few factors:
- Current fitness level
- What you’ve seen results from in the past (or haven’t)
- Exercises that are very hard for you to do or too easy for you right now
- Your diet
Let’s look at each.
First, you need to consider your goals. If your goals are to slim down and stay lean, you aren’t going to go lift super heavy to bulk up, like with 5 rep max-weight sets. If you’re trying to lose weight and gain some muscle, you’d want to try HIIT routines (High-Intensity Interval Training).
You also want to make sure you aren’t looking for a short-term fix, but a long-term fitness strategy. You can’t make your goal “to get abs” and then only work ab muscles. If you don’t try to lose body fat as a whole, you won’t see those abs. Sure, your abs will get stronger. But you’ll be more prone to injury from not working your surrounding muscles and you won’t shed body fat properly for them to look defined.
You have to create a whole body routine that works for you.
YOUR HEALTH AND CURRENT FITNESS LEVELS
You also need to think about your health and current fitness level. If you have asthma and you’ve not been running for years? Chances are you’ll trigger an asthma attack if you try to run 6 miles outside in the spring. No matter what you’re doing, you have to start at your current level.
The same goes for weightlifting. Don’t try to show up at the gym and compete with someone on how heavy you can lift. Proper form is always the key to seeing results, not how heavy you can lift. Because if you lift much heavier than you’re capable of sustaining with proper form, you will get hurt. Besides, having bad form doesn’t work the muscle the way it should. No amount of weight is going to help you tone up if your form is sloppy.
WHAT YOU’VE SEEN RESULTS FROM IN THE PAST, WHAT’S EASY, AND WHAT YOU STRUGGLED WITH
If you’ve been working out in the past, and you’ve tested the waters with different routines, then you probably have an idea of what works. But if you’ve been doing the same ab machine for weeks and it’s super easy for you now? Time to ditch it and switch it. Your body has gotten used to it, and it could also be a sign you’ve worked only one spot of your abs instead of your entire core. So you need to think about using different ab exercises that target the other areas. My killer 5-minute ab routine does just that, so you never get stuck working only one spot.
If something is so hard that you can never seem to lift any heavier? Then that tells you one of your muscles that gets worked with that exercise is weak. It’d be best to drop that exercise for now and try others that work the muscle in a different way to try to build strength. For me, I struggle with rear delts. I can never seem to increase my weight, and I struggle even at a very light weight. So I try to build up with other exercises, like low rows and dips, that work my middle back and triceps.
Last, if something has helped you tone up before, it’s a good idea to keep it up but tweak it continually. If something hasn’t worked for you, don’t feel like you have to do it because it’s popular or what others are doing.
Okay, so this isn’t directly part of creating your workout but it’s something to think about. If you’re working out really hard, but not seeing results? It may not be your workout routine at all, but how you’re eating. Besides the obvious “eat clean to get fit” type of mindset, consider foods that make you feel bad. I get incredibly bloated from sugar, and I have Celiac disease. Those two factors affect my workout and health more than anything else. If I eat sugar, it ruins what I’ve done at the gym. Sugar creates so much inflammation in the body, and makes you physically weaker.
So to meet my fitness goals, and for health reasons, I follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating — it’s not even a “diet” but a lifestyle. The best part about it for fitness? It’s got the most balanced amino acid, vitamin, and mineral profile just from their recipes. You can 100% maintain your fitness through food by eating on plan. No more expensive vitamin packs that are full of fillers and junk! I highly recommend it. They even carry their own products that are SUPER clean and amazing! I use their collagen and whey protein to whip up incredible protein-packed lattes in the morning. You can find out more about Trim Healthy Mama here.
You also want to make sure how you’re eating is helping you. For example, if you eat a lot of heavy fats before a workout, you’ll feel bogged down. Are you drinking a protein shake, or eating enough protein post-workout? No? Your muscles can’t repair themselves properly without it!
Don’t forget to change up your diet to meet your goals.
BREAKING DOWN YOUR MUSCLE GROUPS
Okay, now time to go over your muscle groups and some examples of which exercises work which muscles! If you’re going to tackle your goals, you’ll benefit from a basic anatomy lesson and learning how to work those muscles.
Your chest muscles are called the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor (pecs). Your pecs can be broken down into 3 sections: upper pecs, mid pecs, and lower pecs. You want to make sure you hit all 3 areas evenly to build up a well-rounded and strong muscle.
Exercises that work the upper pecs include incline barbell press, incline dumbbell press, and incline cable flys.
For mid pecs, you’ll do bench press, machine flys, seated machine chest press, and dumbbell flys
You work your lower pecs with decline barbell press, decline cable flys, and dips leaning forward to work more of your chest muscles than triceps.
And for your pectorals minor, you can do chest flys.
Your back muscles consist of up of the trapezius, teres major and minor, rear deltoids, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, erector spinae, and lower back.
Pull-ups work primarily your lats, rear delts, teres major and mid-back between your shoulders (lower traps + rhomboids). Especially if you change up your hand grips, it’s one of the most well-rounded back exercises you can do.
Bent over rows works lats, traps, and rear delts. Lat pulldowns work — yup — your lats. Low rows work your mid and lower traps, lats, and teres major and minor. Rear Delts on the machine is great for working your rear delts and mid traps.
You can work your lower back by doing Supermans, Bow Pose, Locust Pose or Bridge Pose, and Back Extension on the machine or with the Roman Chair.
Your arms are made up of your biceps, triceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis. Your biceps consist of a long head and short head and your triceps have a long head, lateral head, and medial head. Because you’re biceps and triceps are broken up, you need to target each head to strengthen them.
Your basic bicep curls and hammer curls will work both heads of your biceps and also hit your brachialis and forearms. Reverse curls with an EZ bar really target your brachioradialis.
For triceps, dips and lying tricep extensions target your long and lateral heads the most. Tricep pulldowns target all three.
For the shoulders, you have your rotator cuff muscles, delts (anterior, lateral and rear – although I count rear delts as part of back day), and upper traps. It’s important to build strength in your rotator cuff because the muscles are small but used ALL the time — so building strength helps prevent a tear. But be careful not to overwork them either!
You can work your rotator cuff by doing internal and external rotation with a cable or dumbbell.
For delts, try doing military press and front + side arm raises.
You can hit your upper traps by doing shrugs.
Probably the muscle group you know best. Legs have 7 main muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, abductors, and calves.
Squats and deadlifts both work your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Single leg press is excellent for quads, and leg curls for hamstrings.
You can target your calves with calf raises and use the adductor and abductor machines to target those muscles. You can also work these with cables or a band.
Build up a big, strong booty with glute kickbacks and barbell hip thrusts.
Abs can be broken down into 5 main groups: your six-pack abs, V-line abs, obliques, upper abs, and lower abs. To full tone up your core, you need to target each group.
You can hit your six-pack with planks, knee-to-elbow standing crunches, and V-ups. Perform crunch kicks and wipers to target your V-line. For obliques, try Russian twists and heel touches. Upper abs — do your standard crunches or bicycles. For lower abs, do leg raises and scissor kicks.
WHY YOU NEED TO WORK COMPLIMENTARY MUSCLES
The last thing you should know is why you need to make sure you work all your muscles and pay attention to the strength and weakness of each.
Complimentary muscles work together to support and stabilize your body. So to keep them functioning at their best, you need to make sure you work all the complimentary muscles. If you overwork and fatigue your chest muscles, your back muscles have to pick up the slack. If your back muscles are weak, you may create a back injury because your back can’t support the strain and weight of the heavier muscles.
The same is true for lower back and abs, triceps and biceps, hamstrings and quads… You get the idea. That’s why if you don’t understand your fitness routine, you can fall into a pattern of only working certain muscles. You may not realize it, which results in an injury or strain.
As long as you’re changing up your routine every 4 – 6 weeks, you should be able to target all your muscle groups pretty evenly. But use this as a guide to help get you going! And if you don’t know how to do the example exercises, or want more options, Bodybuilding.com has a FANTASTIC exercise finder. You can even select which muscle group you want to work, and they have video demonstrations of almost every exercise you could think of.
NOW ROCK YOUR WORKOUT
You now have the power to craft your own workout perfectly tailored to your personal goals and fitness level. Go on and get your swole on!
What I use for Home Workouts & Lifestyle:
Gaiam 6mm Printed Yoga Mat
Amazon Basics 38-lb Adjustable Weight Set
Muscle Feast Hormone Free Grass Fed Chocolate Whey Protein Isolate (For protein shakes only)
Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook
Trim Healthy Mama Integral Collagen
Trim Healthy Mama Pristine Whey Protein (for recipes, although it’s perfect for protein shakes too)
What Does your Exercise routine look like now? Do you have any other tips to share? LEAVE A COMMENT OR SEND ME A TWEET @REBELHEARTBTY!
AND, IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, MAKE SURE TO LIKE, SHARE, PIN, AND TWEET IT!
SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG SO YOU WON’T MISS A beat!