If you’re looking to get in shape, it’s vital that you take into account the best exercises to help you reach this goal. Sadly, when many people set the goal to get in shape, the first thing they do is gravitate to all the cardio machines in the gym.
They figure that the best way to get in shape is to burn off as many calories as they can and since these machines are good for burning calories, this is the way to go.
This, however, isn’t the case at all.
The best way to get in shape is with weight lifting activity because this is the form of exercise that is going to completely transform your body, creating a brand new look that you can feel incredibly proud of.
In order to see optimal results from your weight lifting efforts, it’s important that you have a game plan in place and understand how to go about structuring a workout for success.
Let’s discuss right now some of the main concepts to remember so that you can get everything in line as you enter the gym for your next session.
Your Workout Split
The very first thing that you need to stop and think about is the workout split that you plan to use with your program approach. For most people who want to get in shape, a full body workout plan works optimally as it will allow them to hit each muscle group two to three times per week, while still providing enough down time for rest and recovery, and to get in any other forms of activity in that they enjoy.
If you are more advanced or just want to spend more time doing weight lifting activities, than an upper/lower split may be the way to go. In this situation, you’ll be working the entire upper body on one day and then working the lower body the next day. After both days are completed, you’ll take a full day off before starting once again.
This set-up is great for those who want to specialize with their training a little more, adding more total exercises for each muscle group.
Your Exercise Selection
Once you have your workout split chosen, then it’s time to put into place the exercises that you’ll do in each session performed.
As a general rule, try and use compound exercises as often as possible. These are the ones that are going to help you learn how to get in shape the quickest as they’ll be working multiple muscle fibers at once and allow you to lift a much heavier amount of weight.
Since lifting a heavy amount of weight is one of the primary requirements for increasing your fitness level, this does need to be a major part of your focus.
You can add some isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, and leg extensions as well if you wish and want to target one specific muscle group individually, but these should come later on in the workout and should be done with a lower total set number.
Compound movements such as bench press, push-ups, step-ups, lunges, squats, deadlifts, and so on should always form the foundation of your plan.
Your Workout Sequence
The next thing that you need to look at is the workout sequence that you’re using. This refers to how you structure the exercises within the context of the program.
There are a number of different ways you can do this. One would be to perform straight sets where you perform one exercise for all the sets you’re planning and then move on to the next. This tends to be great for beginners or those who are looking to dramatically increase their strength level.
Another way you can sequence it is to perform two exercises back to back, rest and then repeat. This is referred to as ‘superset’ training and is a great method for adding extra intensity to your workout session and taking things up to the next level.
Beyond that, circuit training is another way that you can sequence things and this would be where you perform one exercise after another until you’ve completed all the exercises you plan to do that session and then break before repeating again.
This method works great for those who are also a little more advanced and who want to create a higher calorie burn from their workout.
Reps And Sets
The next consideration to take into account is how many reps and sets you’re performing. This refers to how many times you move through a given exercise without taking a break (the rep count) along with how many total times you perform the exercise with the breaks added in between (the set count).
For most people who are looking to get in shape, somewhere between 2-3 sets per exercise works very well, keeping the reps between 8-12.
If you really want to work on building up more strength, you could lower the rep count to around 6 reps, which would then allow you to lift a heavier weight.
If you want to focus on muscular endurance, then a higher rep count of around 15 reps may be more applicable.
The set range is going to impact how much total volume you do in that workout session, so it’s important to get this right also. If you take the sets too high, you’ll find that you get burned out very quickly and struggle to finish the session.
2-4 reps, 4 if you’re more advanced will help to prevent this.
Finally, as some last considerations, make sure that you do have at least one complete day of rest each week from your workout program. This is important for giving your body time to relax and repair itself so that you do come back stronger the following week.
Rest is critical for fitness improvements and you definitely won’t get in shape without it there.
So next time you’re headed to the gym with the goal to get in shape in mind, make sure that you consider all of these factors to see greater success.
[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now.[/stextbox]