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Apr 1 / Jeremy & Kim

Create a Work Out Routine – for Women or Men


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How to create a work out routineExercise is an extremely important part of a healthy and fit lifestyle.  But, what types of exercises you do and how often all depend on your exercise goals.  There really is no one-size-fits-all workout program.  However, there are general principles that can be outlined that will help you create a work out routine.  The principles we outline below will be general enough as to apply to both men and women.  We will discuss four essential components that are necessary for an effective workout plan, resistance training, cardio training, rest days, and walking.  We begin by discussing the bare minimum that anyone should have in their plan and then explore different ways to add to the bare minimum depending on your goals.

The Minimalist’s Approach:

The minimalist’s approach, as the name suggests, is the least amount of exercise that someone can do in the course of the week to maintain their current muscle mass.  There has actually been quite a bit of research around muscle loss and it turn out that doing an intense full body workout once per week is enough to maintain muscle mass, even if you are trying to lose weight through calorie restriction.  The key word here is ‘intense.’  Based on our experience, this means two resistance training workouts per week.  Why two and not one? To ensure the intensity is high enough for the workouts we’ll use heavy weight training.  To ensure the workout is intense enough we utilize a two day split, which basically means we workout half our body on one day and the other half on the second day.  If you prefer body weight exercises to weight training, then we still recommend two days.  If you use body weight exercise for building muscle then the same principle applies as for weight training, you should probably utilize a two day split.  If you use body weight circuits, which are really a mix of resistance training and cardio, then we recommend working out twice per week as those exercises are not quite as intense as heavy weight training.

Who should use the minimalist’s approach?

The minimalist’s approach is really only for people who are extremely happy with their current body and are simply trying to maintain their current physique.  Those who use the minimalist’s approach need to have mastered their diet since their weekly exercise will not go very far with helping to create a caloric deficit.   With that said, someone who has mastered their diet will have no problems maintaining their weight and muscle mass by using the minimalists approach.  If you are want to learn how to master your diet than we recommend checking out the best weight loss diet available today.

Understanding what is necessary at a bare minimum is also helpful for weeks where life throws you a curve ball and you have to miss a few workouts.  As long as you complete the bare minimum you will not lose an ounce of what you have gained.

Weight Training to Build Strength and Mass

If your goals are to build strength and muscle mass then you effectively need to double the minimalists approach.  This means that you need to work each muscle group with intense heavy weight training sessions twice in the course of a week.  If you use a two-day split then that means at least four days in the gym each week.  A 5×5 set and rep scheme is a pretty standard approach to building strength that will also lead to some gains in mass.  If you want to focus more on mass building then increase the reps to 8-12 and perform at least one set to failure for each muscle group.  These set and rep schemes are much more thoroughly explained in Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact Muscle Building course and his Visual Impact For Women course.

”]Visual Impact Muscle Building

Cardio Workouts

Cardio workouts are an important part of any comprehensive weekly workout plan.  The type of cardio that you want to incorporate into your weekly workout will depend a great deal on your goals and personal preferences.  Some people love running and can set out down the trail for an 8 mile run without breaking a sweat.  Others despise cardio and struggle to even find the motivation to put on their jogging shoes.  Luckily, cardio is also a very diverse exercise and there is something for everyone.

It is difficult to say what a minimalist cardio routine would look like since it depends on what you believe to be a minimal standard for cardio endurance.  For example, someone who feels that running 5k in less than 30 minutes is their minimal standard of cardio endurance would work out differently than someone who believes running 10k in 45 minutes is their minimum standard.  Also, those who use cardio as their primary method of exercise will use it differently in a weekly program than someone who uses it to supplement to resistance training.

Given the minimalists approach laid out above, I would suggest that one 30 minute cardio session per week would fit the bill.  This means the person is doing two resistance training workouts and one cardio session each week.  For most everyone else, two 30-40 minute cardio session per week are recommended.

If your goal is to lose weight and burn fat, then we recommend starting each cardio session with 10-15 minutes of HIIT exercise followed by 20-30 minutes of steady-state cardio.  This is the most effective cardio workout for burning fat.


[Check out this video to watch a unique way to do HIIT cardio. Like we said, cardio options are endless.]

Walking

It may sound a bit odd, but we strongly believe that walking is an important part of any weekly workout program.  Walking is severely underrated as an exercise because most people simply do not understand all of the benefits that going for a casual stroll has for your health.  Walking has been proven to reduce mental stress, the low-level activity increases circulation throughout your body, helps muscles recover from resistance training,  and reduces our risk to an array of diseases including cardiovascular disease, breast cancer – two of the biggest killers of Americans today.  How does walking help with all of this?  Science is not 100% sure yet, but one of the most important contributions that walking makes towards your health is the reduction of systemic inflammation.  Scientific studies do suggest a strong link between inflammation and degenerative diseases.  If you are interested in some more of the scientific research available on this subject check out this website: Inflammation Theory.  Whether or not you check out that website, please do start incorporating more walking into your daily and weekly routines.  Your health will thank you.

We recommend intentionally walking for at least 30 – 60 minutes on rest days and dedicating at least 2 hours to nice casual walk on at least one other day of the week.


[This video does a great job of explaining the myriad health benefits provided by walking. Get out there and go for a walk!]

What does a weekly work out routine look like?

We’ve touched on a number of different ways one could structure their weekly workout depending on their goals.  We have a minimalists approach, a fat loss approach, and a strength and mass approach.  Let’s see what each might look like over the course of 7 days.  NOTE: These are only examples.  There a dozens of potential variations depending on your needs and goals.

Minimalist Approach:

Day 1: Resistance Training
Day 2: Rest Day
Day 3: Cardio
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: Resistance Training
Day 6: Walk
Day 7: Rest Day

Fat Burning Approach:

Day 1: Resistance Training
Day 2: Cardio
Day 3: Rest Day
Day 4: Resistance Training
Day 5: Cardio
Day 6: Walk
Day 7: Cardio

Strength and Mass Approach:

Day 1: Resistance Training
Day 2: Resistance Training
Day 3: Rest Day
Day 4: Cardio Training
Day 5: Resistance Training
Day 6: Resistance Training
Day 7: Walk

As we mentioned above, these are just examples of how a workout could be structured.  There are dozens of variations that may be necessary depending on your goals and work/life schedule.  For example, Cardio could be done on the same day as resistance training.  Also, notice we didn’t name days of the week.  Day 1 could be Sunday or it could be Tuesday.  It all depends on what would work best for you.  The purpose of this post was to simply introduce you to the bare minimum and help you determine what you might want to add to the bare minimum in order to help you reach your specific goals.  The best way to create a work out routine for women or men is to incorporate all aspects mentioned in this post: resistance training, cardio training, rest days, and walking.  If your basis are covered and you have your diet in check then you are well on your way to a healthy and fit life.

NOTE: If you would be more comfortable following a workout program designed by experts then check out our Recommendations for programs we know to be effective.

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8 Comments

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  1. I like the way you broke down the different workout approaches. The minimalist approach is not a bad route at all. Very reasonable and definitely something I see as do-able for anyone with a busy schedule.
    -Sam

  2. Very good examples of how to structure workouts based on varying goals. Maybe one day I’ll get to the point where a minimalist workout is all I need but right now I still like training for a better body.

  3. Rumiana / Apr 4 2011

    I like that you put walking as one of the ways to maintain weight. I think most people forget to walk at all, from car in the mall, then again into the car. Walking is basic movement that we need to do on daily bases, I even recommend to my friends to do window shopping if they need a reason to walk. I also agree that 2 resistance training sessions per week are enough to maintain muscles.

  4. Jeremy & Kim / Apr 13 2011

    @Sam – Thanks for your comment! We agree that everyone can find a way to work the minimalist approach into their lifestyle. Many beginners are also surprised to see how much their energy level is improved simply by using this approach.

  5. Jeremy & Kim / Apr 14 2011

    @Dave – Very few people ever feel like they’ve reached a point where the minimalist approach is all they need. When a particular week gets hectic and we’re in a bit of a time crunch it is nice to be able to fall back on the minimalist approach and know that you won’t lose any ground you’ve made so far.
    Keep working hard. You’ll get the body you’re looking for eventually. From the info on your blog it looks like you are well on your way.

  6. Jeremy & Kim / Apr 14 2011

    @Rumiana – We’re glad you agree with us. Walking is extremely underrated. Window shopping is a great way to get in some quality walking time…as long as your wallet can handle it;)

  7. Rumiana / Apr 14 2011

    @Jeremy & Kim – it is window shopping, not pocket shopping 😉

  8. Nic / Apr 16 2012

    Wow, very informative. Even gave some sample workout routines for 3 different approaches. The walking bit was really different. I’ve never seen anyone ever advised “walking” before. And best, its something that can be done anytime, anywhere. I’ve always been a “walker” but never knew there was that many benefits to it. Thanks

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