When building a workout program, finding the information usually isn’t a problem. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Most beginners have to work through all the noise and mass amount of information and misinformation out there.
To properly build a workout plan that will work for you, you must keep these questions top of mind:
- What’s my goal?
- What would I realistically want to accomplish and by when?
- How much time do I realistically have available to exercise per week and for how long each time?
- What resources do I have available to me to make this happen? (Access to a gym?)
Once you know these things you can make sure whatever exercise information you look into doesn’t have a different purpose, different resources or different investment of time required to achieve it.
As you know, the most effective workout program will be the one you can adhere to over a longer period of time. That is why, at Catalyst we have all forms of sessions ranging from a focus in Restoration, Strength or Metabolic. Our members can sit down with a fitness coach and design their weekly routine around their lifestyle and take the stress out of program design. Just show up, and let us do the rest!
Now using the above information as a filter, assuming you are like an average adult with a busy home and work life, and have moderate time available to exercise and pursue a healthier you. Here are some other exercise elements to incorporate into your workout routines..
Warm-Ups and Cooldowns
Always give yourself 5-7 minutes to warm-up and cooldown or stretch at the end of your workout routine. This will not only make sure you give your muscles, ligaments and cardiovascular system the time it needs to warm-up before bringing on the intensity, but will also make sure you stay healthy and injury free for your next one.
In a warm-up, you generally look for a gradual increase in intensity. Basically a form of “raising your pulse” and increasing your body’s temperature and heart rate. Work through some dynamic stretches (not static stretches, where you stretch a single muscle), taking yourself through a dynamic movement (in motion), like a lunge or bodyweight squat. Now there are A LOT of dynamic warm ups, and I suggest looking up a handful. However, a simple way to “warm-up” is to perform the exercise you’re about to perform but only at a 20-30% intensity, for a few sets of 20-30 seconds. That creates good muscle control, body awareness, and increased heart rate. For example, if you’re about to deadlift using a barbell and added plates, you can do a few sets of deadlifts using just the barbell, going slowly and more controlled through the motion and gradually increasing the weight until you’re at the weight you want to use for your actual sets. Now that you know what to look for in a warm up, you’ll also want to the same type of cooldown routines and stretches.
The same methodology can be applied to cooldowns. If you just got done running 5 miles at a steady jogger’s pace, I’d recommend continuing to walk at a fast pace for about another 2-3 minutes, letting your heart rate lower, and then proceed to stretch or foam roll from there. This allows you to loosen up your muscles, removing the lactic acid build up that will also create an elevated level of soreness and continue to lower your heart rate to more normal levels. Again, there are many cooldown and mobility routines, but simply slowing down and decreasing the intensity of the form exercise you were already performing is a great way to simplify it. Add foam rolling and stretching at the end for a winning formula.
Workout Routines for Beginners
Now that you know how you’ll warm-up and cool down your body, you can start looking into workout routines. At Catalyst we help beginners workout with the following tips:
- Focus on Full Body Every Time
We encourage members to train their full body every time, instead of a lower body or upper body day. This is because for your average adult, with a busy and unpredictable schedule, it is good practice to workout both upper and lower body in each workout so if you go longer periods of time without exercising you won’t begin to see imbalances from always favoring one type of workout. At the same time, it’s safe to say most of us live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. At home we’re sitting. When driving to work we’re sitting. At work we’re sitting. The last thing you want to do when you get to the gym is sit down (again) on a piece of equipment. Your exercise should be functional, dynamic and full body. Focusing on improving your posture, core, your functional strength and translating that strength to your day-to-day life’s activity will burn the most amount of calories since you’re working multiple muscle groups at the same time. On top of that, this makes your workouts very efficient so you don’t have to spend all day in the gym!
- Train Large Muscle Groups
Catalyst’s workout routines for beginners target compound movement strength training. This means exercises that work the larger muscle groups in your body, such as, Deadlift, Bent-Over Rows, Squats, Bench Press and Overhead Press. Each of these exercises or various versions of the same will require more intensity to perform them, burning a higher number of calories and yielding you more bang for your buck as far as results for the amount of time you spend in the gym.
- Always Involve Core Training
Having a strong core will keep you safer in all forms of physical activity. Protecting your lower back and increasing your capacity to generate additional force, especially under movement, all starts and ends with your core. So having exercises that involve “Anti-Rotation” and “Anti-Extension” forms of core work is super important. An example of Anti-Extension core exercise would be a plank while an example of Anti-Rotation would be performing a plank while one arm slides a weight from under one side of you to the other (basically causing you to have to resist and motion due to being off balance).
- High Interval Training Cardio
High interval Cardio Training is an awesome way to finish every workout, even if it’s only for 10-20 minutes. This form of training will not only burn more calories, assist in fat loss and build muscle, but it will also help you lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels while improving oxygen and blood flow. Also, sometimes going through the motions during a strength training workout can happen, where the intensity you were hoping for isn’t really there. Finishing with a High Interval Training cardio exercise at the end can be your time to right your wrongs!
Putting the Workout Routine Together
Now that you have some ideas of what to look for in designing your first workout routine, you can put it together. We recommend workout routines to have 4 sets with minimal rest — 20 to 45 seconds is best.
You can also change the order of your routine based on your interests. We always recommend members prioritize the workouts they hate. For example, if you’re not a fan of cardio, do it first so you can’t skip it when you begin to get tired.
You can also keep the workout routine functional while still making it fun. Hit the heavy bag, push a sled, or try out the battle ropes for (a literal) change of pace. Want to try something challenging and different? Try using any of these functional cardio suggestions in between sets of your training routine. For example, you can push a heavy sled in between every set of deadlifts!
Need Help Getting Started?
We understand how intimidating starting a beginner workout routine can be. That’s why we started the 30-Day Personal Training Experience. With this program, you get complete access to every service Catalyst has to offer: Team Training, Small Group, and Private Training while giving you complete access to our certified coaching staff to answer any questions you might have. Team Sessions include Boxing, Spin, Stick Mobility, HiiT and much more! Get started today!