How should I build my workout routines?

You walk into the gym, ready to work out. You head over to the weight section, look in the mirror and realize you have no idea what to do, even though you know you’d like to be weight lifting. Sound familiar?

I’ve recently been getting lots of questions from women who are not super comfortable in the free weights section of the gym. Braving all the bros working their biceps leaves them feeling intimidated, not knowing how to approach the weight rack. That’s why I’ve decided to write a series on Mastering the Weight Room.

At the end of the series of blog posts, you’ll be confident in approaching that free weight section with ease.

A few weeks ago, I covered deciding which weight to use.

This week we are tackling step 2: building your workout routines.

How to build your workout routines

I've recently been getting lots of questions from women who are not super comfortable in the free weights section of the gym. Braving all the bros working their biceps leaves them feeling intimidated, not knowing how to approach the weight rack. That's why I've decided to write a series on Mastering the Weight Room.  At the end of the series of blog posts, you'll be confident in approaching that free weight section with ease. A few weeks ago, I covered deciding which weight to use. This week we are tackling step 2: building your workout routines.

When you’re building your workout routine, you’ve got to keep in mind just four numbers.

Number of body parts (or focus)

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Do you want to work your full body or isolated areas? This will determine which exercises and how many you need.

I generally suggest full body workouts for women who only have 3ish days a week to lift weights. Full body workouts are most efficient AND they offer the biggest metabolic bang for your buck, you’ll want to work your entire body whenever possible. If you can, set up your workout so that you’re switching between upper and lower body movements within the same set to challenge your cardiovascular system while building strength.

If you have more than 3 days a week to lift, you can split your workouts into isolated upper and lower body days.

Number of exercises

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As a rule of thumb, lifting workout routines can contain anywhere from 5-10 exercises, depending on your focus.

When doing a full body workout, you may have MORE exercises but FEWER for each area of the body. This makes sense, right? If you are working your legs three times a week, you don’t want to do 6 leg exercises in each workout. This would be too much and could lead to overtraining.

A note on types of exercises….even if you are doing an isolated area (think leg day or arm day) workout, focus on the bigger muscle groups (back, core, chest, legs) and use combination movements. Combination movements are perfect for changing your body’s shape.

Number of rounds

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Unless you have a goal to improve your 1 rep max in your squat or deadlift, I recommend most of my clients stick with three rounds per exercise. Three rounds support most goals.

Number of reps

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For most women (and for most exercises), aim for 10-12 reps. This rep range is ideal if you are looking to tone up and lose some body fat. If you’re looking to gain endurance, increase your reps (12-15), and if you’re looking to put on lean muscle, decrease your reps (8-10).

Stay tuned for the rest of the series. If you have questions or things that confuse you in the whole weight lifting realm, let me know in the comments below!

What’s one thing about weight lifting that still confuses you?

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