I'm constantly looking for new ways to improve my workout. I want to find ways to get as much done in as little time as possible, and most importantly, I want to get results. Most of you probably feel the same way. You should first consider what your goal is. Then, you should make a plan for the amount of time you have available to you. Today I'm going to cover the goals part. Tomorrow I'll talk about time you have to dedicate each week to your workout.
What do you want your workout to do for you? This is the key to how you should go about creating or finding a plan that suits you. Usually it could fall into one of three categories:
Lose Weight: If you're a beginner, you should focus on circuit training where you can do 10-12 sets with 10-15 reps in each set, with little or no rest between. Do 2 or 3 circuits. This gets your fat burning mechanisms working. If you're more advanced, try supersets. This is where you do 2 exercises back to back, rest 60 seconds, then repeat once or twice more, then move on to another pair of exercises. Pair exercises that work different muscle groups, like an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise.
Build Muscle: Do exercises where you can do 8 to 12 reps per set. You can move through the workout in normal fashion--2 or 3 sets of an exercise, then move onto another--or you can employ supersets. These supersets aren't the same as the weight loss ones. They should work the same muscles, the first should preferably be a compound move, the second should be a single joint exercise.
Gain Strength: The difference between building muscle and gaining strength to me is the difference between definition and bulk. To gain strength (add bulk and increase the amount of weight you can lift) you should lift as much weight as possible and do few repetitions. The most important lifts are moves like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. You'll do 4-5 reps, then rest for up to 4 minutes between sets. On the less important moves, like curls, do more reps with lighter weights with shorter rest periods in between.
Come back tomorrow for the second part of how to make your workout work for you...