You just sort of show up and do what you always do because that is what you're comfortable with. Riding the stationary bike three times a week is not a bad workout, maybe you love the movie Breaking Away and just want to feel like part of the cast, but there are alternatives.
There are much better workout routines for the gym that you can start incorporating into your time, which will leave you with variety and results.
And that's what we should all be after: Results.
Developing the Best Workout Routine for the Gym
First off, if you are just doing cardio every workout and never touch the weights, then we have to change that for many reasons. For one, it is nice to be stronger than your wife and kids.
Play wrestling with your five-year-old is fine, but getting legitimately pinned by your five-year-old is not. Being able to put some lean muscle mass on your frame should be a goal to have. Plus, if you are worried that with decreased cardio, you will not be able to battle fat like you have in the past, don’t be concerned. Muscle burns calories even while resting, so putting on some muscle mass will give you great results.
To create the best possible workout routines for the gym, we are going to include both strength training and cardio. We want you to be strong, and still be able to walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air. No matter what your age is, these workout routines for the gym will produce amazing results if you stick with them. In addition, remain on a healthy diet. Fitness is only about 25 percent exercise and 75 percent what you eat. The old saying that abs are created in the kitchen is not a lie. You can’t out-train a bad diet.
The Benefits of Using a Gym
I’m not saying that training at home cannot be done, but most people do not have a thousand square foot gym in their basement that contains all the essential workout equipment needed.
While having a couple dumbbells, a bench, and an old treadmill that is always stuck on one speed might seem like enough to you, the gym will offer you an entirely new world. It will be like going from black and white to technicolor. The options that all of the equipment the gym will provide, you will bring a huge variety to your training. And with variety, there will be less of a chance of burnout from having to do the same workout over and over again.
In addition, you will find inspiration from others. Sure, it can be a bit frustrating watching one or two people playing on their phone or picking out the perfect soundtrack for their workout for ten minutes, but there are others at the gym that are training hard.
Some of my best friends have come from a chance meeting at the gym. Someone may ask me for a spot on the bench or I might ask someone dieting tips, and before you know it, we are best friends forever. I have received better guidance and advice for my life from people I met at the gym much more than school or even my parents.
That $20 to $30 dollars that you are spending on monthly gym fees will be well worth it when you realize what a huge difference joining a gym has made to your life. You can’t put a dollar amount on that. But then again, if your monthly gym fees are $100 a month, they better be serving caviar, bringing you bottled water, and wiping your brow for you during your workouts.
Workout Routines for the Gym that Work
I always have two goals when I step foot into the gym. I want to have a good workout and get it all completed in an hour. This means training for a complete hour, not doing a few sets and then talking the rest of the time. When you step into the gym, you should stay as focused as possible. Listed below are a few workout routines divided up into muscle groups that will give you a general idea of what to do when you enter through those doors.
Some people like to do cardio at the beginning of their workout, but I always tend to do it at the end. When doing strenuous cardio first, it can sap your strength a bit so you won’t be able to do as many reps or sets during your strength training. So all of these workout routines for the gym have the cardio exercises after the strength training is finished. Again, this is just my preference, but you can decide for yourself on what you prefer.
Biceps and Triceps Routines for the Gym
There is something about having strong arms that gains respect from people. For one thing, if you're wearing short sleeves, your forearms and upper arms are on display, so others notice. It is the muscle group that is shown the most often, unless you are a nudist. Then everything is equally displayed.
If you want bulging biceps, you have to put in the time and effort. Dumbbell curls are a great way to start your biceps and triceps workout. It will quickly get the blood flowing to your arms. Completing three to four sets for 8 to 12 reps will be a good beginning to this training day.
Alternating between bicep and tricep exercises is a perfect way to give brief rests in between. If you did four different bicep exercises in a row without much of a pause in between, you won’t be lifting as much weight as you could because your biceps will quickly become fatigued. For the first tricep exercise, I would suggest dips. It is a compound movement so you are also working other muscles like your pectorals, but it is really going to hit your tris the best. See if you can accomplish doing three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Preacher Curl Machine
This is one of the benefits of being at a gym loaded with equipment. A preacher curl machine will allow for an isolation movement that focuses entirely on the biceps. Doing three to four sets at 8 to 12 reps should have your biceps burning. Remember to keep your workout moving along so there are no long pauses in between sets.
Once again, we are alternating between bis and tris exercises. The triceps pushdown can be done with various cable machines in the gym. Keep your elbows at your side without hunching over the handle when the weight gets difficult. Complete three sets for 8 to 12 reps.
Biceps Cable Curl
The biceps cable curl can be done at various angles. Some people like to have the handles high and others like to have them low. Anytime you are tugging on something towards the body, you are working the biceps. This is your last biceps exercise in this workout, so doing three sets for 8 to 12 reps is a good beginning to it. The additional fourth set is a burnout set where you do as many reps as possible with a good amount of weight.
If this is your first time doing skull crushers, have someone spot you through the exercise. The point of it is to train your triceps, not actually crush your skull. Lay flat down on the bench with an EZ curl bar raised up off your body like you are getting ready to do a bench press. Move your hands closer in together and slowly lower the bar, by bending your elbows, to your forehead. Again, this is your last tricep exercise for this workout, so doing three sets of 8 to 12 reps is fine, but include a fourth set where you do as many possible reps as you can.
Cardio for Bis and Tris Day
Bis and tris are small muscle groups, so while your arms may be feeling exhausted, you should still have some good spring to your step. I always use this day to do a bit of jogging on the treadmill. By running at a decent speed, you can have your cardio knocked out in ten minutes and still have a feeling of accomplishment.
Chest Routines for the Gym
Too many men as they age start to have a saggy chest. It is not a good look to have, and it can be difficult to hide in shirts. While some of it is due to excess body fat and need for a better diet, these chest exercises should at least firm things up a bit. It’s either get in better shape or start wearing “The Bro” that was famously displayed on Seinfeld.
Barbell Flat Bench Press
A compound movement, it is always a good idea to do your bench press first on chest day. This is when you will be at your strongest. Three to four sets for 8 to 12 reps would be ideal for those starting to get in better shape. Later on, as you get stronger, you can always check and see what your one rep max is.
Flat Dumbbell Flyes
If you want to build up your chest and get more definition, dumbbell flyes can do this. Once again, three to four sets for 8 to 12 reps will work wonders.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
There are many guys that complain of shoulder pain when doing incline barbell bench press. I’m in that same boat. This is one of the reasons why I do incline bench press with dumbbells. It could possibly save your shoulders a lot of wear and tear. Stick to three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Standing Cable Flyes
Cable flyes will hit the chest differently than the dumbbell flyes, so it is always good to have them both in your workout. Three to four sets for 8 to 12 reps is a good rule of thumb. Make sure you squeeze your chest together while doing these.
Push-ups are almost a full body exercise. They work many muscles at once, including the chest. Finishing up your chest workout with three sets as many as you can do will work.
Chest exercises can take a lot out of you, so hopping on a stationary bike for 20 minutes or so is often the least taxing cardio you can do.
Back and Shoulder Routines
I do back and shoulders on the same day, but I know many do back and bis together. It is all about your preference and what works best for you.
Standing Barbell Shoulder Press
This compound exercise is a total body workout. Three to four sets for 8 to 12 reps is a great way to start the day.
If you want bigger traps, this is the way to go. It also works other muscles as well. You can do these with the dumbbells or barbell. Once again, three to four sets for 8 to 12 reps.
Lateral raises will work the front and sides of your shoulders. People often mistakenly go heavy with this exercise, but there is no need. Keep it light or you could end up on the shelf with a hurt shoulder. Three sets for 8 to 12 reps is perfect.
Lat pulldowns or pull-ups will provide you with that V shape that many men want. It is like you have grown a pair of wings when you have strong lats. Stick with the 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Deadlifts are the last exercise of the day because after them, you will not feel like doing cardio. Another exercise that is a full body workout that you should be doing in your training sessions.
I would finish with four sets and pyramid up in weight after each set. Because of this, your number of reps will vary.
Leg Routines for the Gym
With swim season just around the corner, you do not want to skip leg day. Having a strong upper body and weak legs will garner some less than flattering comments.
Squats are a compound movement, so it is best to get this completed early on in your legs workout. Do four to five sets and pyramid up with the weight each time. Reps will vary as you increase the weight.
There are many different types of leg press machines. Most of them involve pushing the weight with your legs out at an angle. Completing three sets of 10 reps here would be fine.
You can do lunges holding dumbbells off to the side to make it even more difficult. I like to find a bit of a walk area and do continuous lunges 20 to 30 feet for three sets.
To end leg day, this is when I choose to do the elliptical for cardio. You won’t want to perform a cardio exercise where you have to pick up your feet at this moment. The elliptical is low impact and a great way to burn those extra calories.
How to Get the Most Out of Gym Time
Now you have four different workout routines for the gym, you can cover all muscle groups. To get the most out of your gym time, bring a bottle of water with you so you won’t have to walk over somewhere and use a drinking fountain.
Also, leave your phone in your gym bag or your car unless you are waiting for an important call or text. People have the best intentions carrying their phones with them as they train. They like to have their music playing and the earbuds in.
But even with this, you will be wasting precious gym time as you fiddle with the phone. Keep your fitness routines distraction-free and get in and get out. If you do this, you will be able to accomplish all these workouts in one hour or even slightly less.
Writer, The Fit Father Project
Ryan is a fitness expert from Illinois with two decades of experience under his belt. Never one to turn down a challenge, he has taken every class any gym has to offer, even the Dance Kickboxing class. If 70s disco dance music starts playing, everybody should run for cover. You have never lived until you have kicked somebody in the head to Dancing Queen.
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