I split my gym routine into three types of days: push days, pull days, and leg days. Push days target the chest, shoulders and triceps. Pull days target the back and the biceps. Leg days are for legs (duh), cardio, abs and whatever else I typically want to work out.
Gym Routine: Laid Out#
This routine is designed to be completed in about an hour of gym time. I’ll add a visual for all of these eventually, but a simple google search should tell you what each exercise is supposed to stand for. I’ve also ordered the exercises in each muscle group to go from most to least muscle-activating, so don’t be worried about only doing 2/4 or something similar!
- Standard barbell/dumbbell press
- Incline barbell/dumbbell press
- Pectoral fly
- Decline barbell/dumbbell press
- Overhead press
- Front raise
- Lateral raise
- Tricep extension
- Bench dips
Push days are typically the worst, so if you get through this, you’re gonna have a great rest of the week of workouts!
- Dumbbell/barbell curls
- Hammer curls
- Concentration curls
- Seated rows
- Lat pulldowns
- Dumbbell rows
This is my least structured day, but here’s what I typically end up doing:
- A 5K run
- Calf raises
- Leg extension
- Something for core/balance
- Whatever you want!
Also — these exercises are optimized to be doable with good form by complete beginners!
Always Train to Exhaustion#
You might have heard the phrase “train to failure” bandied around a lot. I wanna talk about it a little bit, because it is crucial. On every exercise, you want to take your last set to exhaustion — potentially not be able to finish it.
The science behind this is that of hypertrophy vs strength. Hypertrophy, bluntly put, is how much we can stress our muscles — small tears in the muscles is what makes them stronger in the long run! Strength is a symptom of contrinued hypertrophy. When you see people tossing weights around, like it’s easy for them… it probably is, and they’re ego lifting. You always want to work your muscle to exhaustion to get them strong and big!
Form Form Form#
The most important thing in exercise is keeping your form good while exercising. I initially figured out the correct forms for exercises by watching people do it online — if they’re shredded, it’s very easy to see what muscle is supposed to move and how. I also typically check to see if the muscle I’m exercising is contracted between sets. If it isn’t, I’m doing it wrong.
Especially early in the lifting process, it’s very easy to want to lift heavier, at the cost of good form. Don’t do this. It’s okay to only use a 5 pound dumbbell, as long as your form is perfect. The weight will increase naturally if you maintain the form!
Keep Exercising Fun#
One mistake I’ve made a lot over time (and one I think people make a lot as well) is to view exercising as a job instead of a hobby. Lifting is supposed to be fun. Don’t take that away from yourself. Don’t be super strict about your workout schedule if that’s making you miserable. Don’t lift heavier if you don’t want to. Don’t run if you’re not feeling it. Do swimming and rock climbing and martial arts and squash and whatever you’d like to keep the happiness in staying fit. Keep it fun!
This post is written for people:
- who are somewhat unfamiliar with lifting and exercising at the gym
- who (like me) get self-conscious about looking like a weirdo
- who really don’t enjoy the “source: trust me bro” approach to modern gym tips and tricks
- who are ready to be their best self!
You got this, friend. 💪