Everyone wants an effective workout routine—but sometimes finding the right program can feel completely overwhelming. It’s not just you!
As a trainer, I get TONS of questions about creating and starting a new routine.
The most common ones are “Do I need a gym membership?” “Will this get me results?” “How can I ensure proper form and safety?” “What if I reach a plateau and need to change it up?” “Is cardio or lifting weights more effective?” To make things more confusing, each of these questions is answered in different ways by different coaches and trainers. Where to begin?
Well, I’m guest-writing this blog post for ONE Bars—one of my favorite post-workout snacks—to make your personal decision a little easier. Before we even talk specifics, I want to make it super clear that an “effective workout” always looks different depending on a person’s desired outcome. I’ve spoken to many clients who feel like they are putting in the effort (sometimes SO MUCH EFFORT) but seeing marginal improvements. And being the determined and competitive folks we are, most of us just do more—eat less, grasp a little tighter at those goals and impose a little more willpower.
But to what end? Are you happy? Do you look forward to your workouts? Do you sleep well at night? Do you stress out about eating? Do you change things up based on advice from every source you hear or see? And I don’t ask those questions to be dramatic—most of the people that I help are ALREADY active, but their efforts are misplaced, and their plan is not effective. In short, the majority of my clients are looking for a lean, athletic build with functional mobility. Some are more performance driven and some are more physique driven, but most people are happily in the middle and prefer a balance of both.
So, before you even grab a kettlebell or unroll your mat, define your terms first!
If your intention is to build muscle, then long-distance running or steady-state walking is obviously not the most effective approach. On the other hand, if you enjoy dancing or a class environment and your only real goal is to have fun, then a traditional bodybuilding plan working specific muscle groups probably isn’t the best choice either. Think about what you want to fulfill as a result of your time and effort. Here are a few considerations:
- Increased muscle tone and/or improved body composition
- Weight loss and/or fat reduction
- Increased endurance
- Improved energy and/or confidence
- Increased flexibility
- Additional athletic performance and/or agility
- Faster half-marathon or marathon times
- Set new personal strength records
- Community enjoyment and/or socializing
While this list is not exhaustive, I hope that it helps make your exercise choice more enjoyable more effective in leading you towards your intended result. So without knowing specifically who you are or what your goals are, here are a few examples of workouts that I present to my clients on my blog and Madeline Moves Fitness App.
My training programs are built around the circuit-training approach. Circuit workouts are fun, challenging and (most importantly) effective! They’ll give you the lean and toned physique you are probably looking for but probably not finding on the treadmill or your fifth half-marathon. The Move Sweat Shred Guide is an 8-week program with muscle group-specific workouts that implement a variety of training techniques, including time under tension, low weight/high rep, pre-exhaust, burnouts, and AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). All are highly effective, but you don’t have to come up with a single one—just follow the easy-to-read guide and get all the benefits.
These plans are specifically intended to create change using progressive overload, so they increase in difficulty over time—helping you get quicker on the athletic portions and also push some heavier weights.
Building muscle is KEY to building metabolic rate and a tight and compact physique, so it’s is a major component of each workout. However, if you’re like me, you want to feel that you are working—and that usually means sweating. I want my heart to pump, I want to feel out of breath, but I DON’T want to spin my wheels in a cardio circle that forces me into a plateau because it lacks the STRATEGY to accompany my muscle-building goals.
A form of cardio in disguise, plyometrics (explosive movements or fast-paced bursts of intensity) are another major component of my training guides. For example, after you have challenged the glute muscle by isolating it in an “elevated heel single leg lunge,” you then activate fast-twitch muscle fibers, elevate your heart rate and burn calories by performing “alternating jump lunges” as part of the circuit. You are challenging that muscle in two ways and maximizing your time and results by compounding the intensity in an intentional way.
The full guides are available in PDF format on the Madeline Moves app, and they also have videos linked for every exercise so you are always instructed on proper form. (Note that I recommend resistance bands from Hope Fitness Gear to complete this guide.) Now what are you waiting for? Define your terms and get sweating!
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