Designing the best workout routine

by admin on November 1, 2010

Prelude; Autumn 2010

I was chatting with a colleague of mine about training and stuff. Now this guy is big, with a capital b. Rumour has it that he even competed in a bodybuilding show or two back in the day (the rumours were started by him though).

He describes me as “Mr fit“ and constantly refers to how lean I am,  but things get a little awkward when we talk about how I workout. You see even though he’s impressed with my results he’s convinced I’m doing it “wrong”. I guess training 6 days a week for 90 minutes a pop like he does requires a certain belief in what you‘re doing, and I’ll give it to him, he has that.

He gives me some bodybuilding pamphlets of the best workout routines to flick through. I’m polite, but  not really interested.  Though it got me thinking. There was a time when I was always searching for answers and would have lapped it all up. Nowadays I prefer to find the answers for myself……or rather to make them.

How do you decide which way is best?

Fitness to fit you

The best workout routine is the one that is best,  for you.

Its not so much  about sets and reps but rather how your workouts fit into the bigger picture of your life.  I shall drill down in depth about how you might apply each of these principles in further posts, but in the meantime I’m going to lay out what I have found to be the fundamentals of an effective workout routine. By effective I mean;

1)You will do it
2)It will get you results
3)You won’t give up your life on the way to  points 1 and 2

1)Its Body Design, not rocket science
Some workout experts seem to make it so complicated.  I guess its easier to sell a complicated solution.  The kind that keeps your nose in books and on the net researching.  However its not necessary. The best workout routines are simple. Simple enough to actually do.

Thinking too hard about your workouts?

2)The best workout routines play to your strengths
With all the different options you need  to pick one that suits you. I see way to many people working out looking bored of the whole thing. I would be too if I didn’t enjoy my workouts………..actually that’s not true; I wouldn’t be working out at all. Life’s too short.

I actively design out the workout elements that I don’t like to leave me with the best. This means that I enjoy my workouts so much they are one of my favourite things to do. For example I’m not a big fan of traditional cardio methods; I lost 40lbs without using any of them. Sit-ups and crunches are boring, I got six pack abs by doing planks and some old school breathing exercises I’ve learned. (In fact to be honest I very rarely work my abs since a sound nutrition plan is the most important thing to seeing your six pack anyway).

I’m aware my way is probably breaking every commandment in the fitness bible……….but its my way, and I wouldn’t have it any other.

3)The best workout routines are effective and efficient
You don’t need to make the gym your life. Besides, It isn’t a case of some is good so more must be better.  Find a workout that makes the best use of your time.

“life is what happens when we’re making other plans.”

If your workouts are too difficult to fit in, they probably won’t. I am a big fan of fast workouts and constantly push myself to get more out of less, by reducing the time it takes me to get through a routine. This is a great method of increasing the workload on your muscles, and forcing them to adapt.

You can try  this yourself as simply as cutting the rest periods between sets each time you perform a routine. Trust me, as straightforward as it sounds it is super effective.

4)The best workout routines focus your mind
Wise man say “no brain, no gain”.  For the time I’m  training I  focus totally on the workout. This is such a simple idea that it doesn’t even sound like a tip does it? But you will know when you “get it”. It’s the key to getting more out of less.

People don’t believe how short my workouts are, or how often I take breaks from training, but the reason I get results is that when I am there, I am fully there, totally engaged in what I’m doing. (If I sound a bit like a mystic its because I recently started yoga. If you have the chance, definitely do it, it really is amazing).

The only potential drawback to this focus is it does mean you won’t be able to check out the other hot gym members, but on the flipside very soon they will be checking YOU out.

"Repeat after me; I WILL focus on my workout!"

5)The best workout routines delivers results (the ones you actually want)
Your workout needs to reflect your real goals, not what you have been told they should be. There are a lot of external “fitness markers” that we can use as guides; the scale, our strength,  pulse rate, VO2 Max etc. All these are great tools, but only if they are markers on your journey.

I had a great conversation with a friend  not too long ago. I was looking pretty good (even if I do say so myself) but he wanted to know how much I can bench??? I don’t know why my numbers are important to him but it sure isn’t important to me!!! By knowing clearly that The Underwear Body is your priority you can keep the blinkers on without being distracted by things that don’t relate to your goals.

Know what you want and how you will measure progress.  For me it was as simple as a picture of an underwear model body I wanted to emulate, and a mirror.

6)The best workout routines adapt to you
Its your routine and your prerogative. So make sure you own it, not the other way around.I like to change my workout routine through the year so that some times I’m working harder or focusing on  improving a specific aspect of my body.

Fitness on your terms is the future

For example this Winter I’m reducing the time I spend in the gym, working out at home to mix things up. In spring I might specialise on my back and shoulders to enhance that v-taper for T-shirt season and then just before Summer I shall peak by doing more overall exercise (yes, maybe even cardio!!) and dropping my body fat a little to get ready for the beach. In the same way your routine can reflect your life and what you are into at any particular time.

So there you have it, six principles to keep in mind when designing your best workout routine. Remember its all about you. You don’t need all the answers, you just need yours.

To the good life


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna @ Path to Fat Loss November 3, 2010 at 1:11 am

Hey Michael, I love your tips especially tip #4. A lot of people tend to get distracted by other people or other things in the gym that they don’t know why they spend so much time at the gym. I’m in and out of the gym just like because I am fully engaged in my workouts and I come with a purpose. But, I sort of disagree with you with tip #2. I don’t think people should avoid the things they don’t like (certain exercises etc) because most of the time, those would be the ones that would give them the most benefit. Maybe that’s not what you meant but that’s the message I got.

Keep up the great work!


Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips November 3, 2010 at 1:33 am

What a great set of tips! I agree with them all but like Anna above, hesitate on #2. Playing to strengths is a great way to motivate yourself to continually exercise, but at some point, I’d like to think people will take on the challenge of improving their weaknesses as well.

Raymond - ZenMyFitness November 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

Excellent reminder on how to look at your fitness life .. the goal is not always that important as long as you enjoy the journey.
I mean yeah I love to have the most effective workout but guess what? I don’t really care I like the fact that I workout and try new and different technicques some work some don’t but for me its all in the experience.
Raymond – ZenMyFitness´s last blog ..The Best Fitness Source For Getting the Body You WantMy ComLuv Profile

admin November 3, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Hey Anna, thanks for reading

Yeah I definitely think there is a lot to be said for working out with a purpose. I reckon there are far more exciting places to hang around then in the gym.

Regarding tip #2 I know a lot of people who can’t face the thought of working out because of all the things they think they “must” do. Tip #2 is inspired by them, by starting with their strengths/what they enjoy they will find it easier to take perhaps the hardest step on the path; the first one.


admin November 3, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Cheers Dave

I hear what you’re saying regards working on your weaknesses. I think this has a lot to do with where you are in your training. In the beginning I think we tend to have very specific and immediate goals, like dropping a dress size in time for the Christmas party or getting big arms. For those of us who stick at our training beyond a certain point though, it eventually becomes more than these things. Its about becoming better than we were yesterday. Once we get to this point we enjoy working on our weaknesses because that is part of the larger process of working on ourselves. Sounds like thats where you guys are.

Of course, the trick is getting to that point. #2 is about helping the people on their way. I know I used to be one.


admin November 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm


thanks for your input. I’ve definitely come around to the idea that its all about the journey. I spent way too long not enjoying my workouts, which is probably why I make it such a priority nowadays. Totally feel what you say about trying new techniques too, its because of all the things I’ve tried that I can be so confident about what works for me.

Anyway like I said in the post I’ve started Yoga recently, so am looking extra forward to reading your blog for insights.


Louis November 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

Great post. I agree there is no one size fits all routine. If there was one person would be really rich and a lot more people would be in shape. Good stuff man

admin November 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hey Louis,

I like the way you put that. I think that having this area of your life handled is really about being able to adapt the “rules” to suit you.



laboratory technician November 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

admin November 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Laboratory technician,

Thanks for the feedback, great to have you on board and yes I will definitely be covering this area much more so stay “tuned”. I was able to make a real difference by learning, or rather re-learning how to approach exercise for the results I really wanted. There is a lot to share.



dofollow blogs November 14, 2010 at 5:40 am

I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

admin November 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

dofollow blogs,

thanks for reading, I’m glad the site has helped you so far. I’m just getting started so hopefully will be able to do so more in the future.

All the best with your blog


Benita Janus November 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm

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admin November 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm


Thanks loads for the feedback, I’m glad that it helped you, and glad to have you onboard. Plenty more to come :-)


Ron Tedwater November 18, 2010 at 1:27 am

Really nice post,thank you

Xochitl Embry November 18, 2010 at 1:34 am

pretty helpful material, overall I consider this is well worth a bookmark, thanks

admin November 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm


thanks for reading, really glad you liked it



admin November 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm


Thanks for the feedback, and the bookmark. Lots more to come :-)


rachat de credit November 29, 2010 at 2:16 am

I have the same opinion with most of your points, however a few need to be discussed further, I will hold a small conversation with my buddies and maybe I will look for you some advice later.

- Henry

admin November 29, 2010 at 6:40 am


Anytime. You know where to find me.



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