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Ask the trainer: The DIY workout

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Nichelle Ask a trainer

Photography by Dave Laus

Question: How do I design a workout?

Ever walk into a gym and feel like you have entered the twilight zone? Many people are intimidated in the weight room because they don’t know what they are doing, how to start or how to work out in a way that suits their needs.

Here are some tips to help you design your own workout:

First, determine how much time you can commit to your workout on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Know what your goals are, and determine your style of workout: Do you prefer a full-body workout, or do you prefer to target specific muscle groups?

Circuit training is a workout based on a set number of “stations” that you repeat until your time runs out. You can easily customize a program to help you reach your goals that has you in and out of the gym in 45 minutes-or less.

For example: Four stations of one minute each, plus one minute rest, repeated for six circuits adds up to a 30-minute workout. Adjust accordingly depending on time restraints.

Here’s a template you can use to design a balanced circuit workout:

» Upper body exercise: Try a different upper-body exercise each time through the circuit or repeat the same exercise every time to keep things simple.
» Lower body exercise: Choose exercises that will work each part of your lower body. You can change up the moves each time through the circuit or keep them the same.
» Total body movement: You’ll really get your heart rate up by adding in some compound exercises.
» Sprint for one minute: Short, fast sprints are the most effective way to burn fat.
» Rest for one minute: It is part of the program-you’ve earned it! Hydrate, and let your heart rate come down. After you have rested, repeat the circuit as many times as you can before the time runs out!

There are several types of training splits depending on your experience and fitness level. Here is a look at two of the most common:

Full body split
This is great for beginners. You can perform a full-body routine that you can do a few times a week to start, with 48 hours between workouts. It will help if you divide your workouts into body part segments:

» Lower body: Squats, lunges, dead lifts, leg extensions, leg curls, hip raises
» Chest, shoulders, triceps: Bench press, push ups, shoulder press, bench dips
» Back, biceps: Pull ups, seated rows, curls
» Core, abs, lower back: Planks, mountain climbers, back extensions

Pick one exercise from each segment and piece together your own full-body workout. Perform approximately 3-4 sets of each exercise.

Four-five day splits
This type of workout is for the more experienced lifter. Fewer muscle groups are trained each day, allowing you to increase the intensity of your training. You can pair one large muscle group with a smaller one (chest and triceps), or you can pair up muscle groups that target opposing actions (chest and biceps).

If you are looking to increase strength, keep your reps in the 4-6 range. If you are looking to burn fat while building muscle mass, keep your reps in the 8-12 range. If you are looking to increase muscular endurance, keep your reps in the 15-20 range.

No matter how you decide to split up your workout, remember to focus on technique and proper form. Consider scheduling time with a trainer to take you around the weight room, show you proper technique and identify any changes or corrections to your form.

Happy training!

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Nichelle Laus is a proud mom of 4 boys under the age of 8; she has trained and competed at an amateur level in both boxing and kickboxing for over 20 years. She is a certified personal trainer, kickboxing and kettlebell instructor, motivational speaker, and fitness and cover model. She is a Figure and Bikini competitor, and competition and transformation coach for Team Laus. She loves to teach and inspire others.


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