Food is by far my favorite thing to write about, but exercise is another essential component of my healthstyle and many readers have asked me to share my weekly routine.
To be honest, however, I have avoided posting my workout regimen for several reasons. First, I am not a trainer and this is in no way intended as a training program for anyone. These exercises are just what work for me and you should not assume they will work for you as well. I also worry that some fitness snobs will come out of the woodwork and accuse me of doing everything wrong, a criticism I have no interest in refuting or discussing.
That being said I have been a consistent gym goer for the past 18 years and feel very comfortable in the weight room.
My routine has changed over the years, but I am very happy with my current fitness level. At 30, I feel confident saying I’m in the best shape of my life and it feels awesome.
A few points to start:
- I work out 3-5 days a week and start every session with half hour of cardio. The only thing that keeps me out of the gym is scheduling conflicts. I love exercise.
- I almost always workout with a partner–a male nearly double my size–and our workouts are approximately the same (obviously using different weights).
- We rotate cardio equipment between treadmill (either running or brisk walking at a steep incline), stationary bike and elliptical machine, trying not to repeat the same exercise 2 days in a row.
- For strength training we focus on 2 or 3 muscle groups per day, and try to get through all the major muscle groups twice in a week (but I’ll settle for one time per week if that’s all I can fit in).
- I do an abdominal workout every time I’m at the gym, rotating through a few different exercises throughout the week.
- I always wear gloves when I weight train to avoid callousy man hands. (BTW, these aren’t hot on men either). They also make me look tough while I’m lifting.
- I try to do my lifting slowly and controlled in both directions of the movement. But sometimes I forget.
- For most of these exercises we use free weights, but once every week or two we’ll use the machines to mix it up.
- In addition to my weight training sessions, I make an effort to walk extensively each day. According to my Fitbit pedometer I take between 8,000 and 17,000 steps per day (this includes my workout). This is intentional and I do it for both stress relief and fitness purposes.
On any given training day we do two or three of the following sets of exercises after our cardio workout. If we anticipate being able to workout every weekday, we will use the last two days of the week to push harder and complete the entire set in just 2 days.
My only bicep exercise is dumbell curls. I alternate each arm and do 3 sets of 20. I superset my bicep workout with lunges, still holding the dumbbells.
I use specific cable machines for back exercises. We superset cable seated rows and cable pulldowns, usually 3 sets of ~12. For lower back I do lifts using the Roman chair, usually holding a single 10-pound barbell weight to my chest.
I’m not fond of the quadricep and hamstring equipment at my gym (my partner uses them), so I only use the machines for V-squats and hip extensions. I do 3 sets of 20, and superset if the gym isn’t too busy.
As a female I was reluctant to begin almost every one of these weight training exercises, besides abs.
Nervous, I started with biceps and triceps, then shoulders and back. I gave myself a 6-month trial period and said if I thought I was getting too “bulky” at that point I would stop. The opposite happened and I became more adventurous in the weight room.
Six months later I reluctantly worked chest exercises into my routine and was again pleased with the results. I only recently started my leg workouts and, again, was blown away by the unexpected awesomeness of the transformation.
I became stronger, thinner and my clothes looked better after each exercise I added to my regimen. From my perspective, strength training is infinitely more rewarding than running marathons.
Has weight training helped you reach your health and fitness goals?
Originally published April 14, 2010. Little has changed in my routine and I’m still kicking ass and taking names.