It’s recently come to my attention that a lot of you want to go to the gym, but you’re just stuck at the final step.
That is, you don’t really know what you should be doing when you arrive at the gym.
Cardio is a pretty safe bet, right? Everyone loses weight with cardio! But should you jump on the treadmill, the bike, the cross-trainer, or the rowing machine?
Free weights? Machines? Cables? Ahhhh! – There are way too many options to just take a guess and hope that you pick the right one!
The Best Gym Routine For Weight Loss
So I took it upon myself to create what I think is possibly the BEST routine for weight loss, which can be performed at either a commercial gym, or, if you have one, a home gym.
As this is a gym routine for weight loss, the major focus of this article will be cardiovascular exercise, with a minor focus on strength and resistance training (in the form of body-weight exercises.)
(Note: Physical exercise has inherent risks, and if you think you are not capable of performing any exercise listed below, DO NOT ATTEMPT IT.)
A brief outline of the routine:
I carefully took into account many factors when creating this routine, such as your available time, your assumed fitness level, and the fact that you’re here to lose weight.
I ended up with a 30 minute, moderate to vigorous intensity, cardio-based routine.
When you first arrive at the gym, you will perform 5 minutes of dynamic warm-ups.
Straight after this is a 5 minute burst of HIIT.
Next is 5 minutes of body-weight exercises.
Following that is 10 minutes of steady-state cardio.
And, to cool off, 5 minutes of static stretching.
After this intense 30 minute routine, you should be feeling pretty exhausted!
Part 1: The Dynamic Warm-up
- We’re going to start the dynamic warm up with a minute of lateral lunges.
- After you’ve finished with the lateral lunges, we’ll then do a minute of forward lunges.
- Next up is a minute of high kicks!
- Following the high kicks is a minute of Jumping Jacks.
- Almost done! To finish off the warm up, we’ll do a minute of open gates.
The reason we do a dynamic warm-up is to get the heart beating faster, get the muscles all nice and warmed up, and to start sweating.
After you’ve done these for around 5 minutes (no need to be overly pedantic about the timing), we can move on to the first real exercise of the routine.
Part 2: H.I.I.T.
Some of you may already be familiar with H.I.I.T., but I’m just going to assume you’ve never heard of it before.
It stands for high-intensity interval training, and, as the name suggest, it’s pretty intense.
The most popular type of H.I.I.T is easily “Tabata”, which is named after the the professor Izumi Tabata, who conducted an experiment with elite cyclists.
The exact protocol he used had the cyclists riding at a very intense pace for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. (30 seconds total.)
This was then repeated for a total of 4 minutes.
I won’t bore you with the results of the experiment, or the reasons why H.I.I.T. training may or may not (depending on who you talk to) be better than steady-state cardio.
You can just Google it if you’re interested in learning more.
Back to the routine; you’ll be performing 5 minutes of a modified Tabata H.I.I.T protocol.
You can use either a treadmill, a stationary bike, a crosstrainer, or a rowing machine for this exercise, whatever you prefer.
(Note: If you’re using a treadmill you’ll have to jump up onto the side for the rest period, as stopping and re-starting the treadmill will take too much time.)
Choose a difficulty setting that you’ll be able to do, but that also gives you a challenge. It should feel like you’re sprinting.
You’re going to go as hard as possible for 30 seconds, and then stop and rest for 15 seconds.
Repeat until 5 minutes is over.
Part 3: Body-weight exercises
You should feel very, very tired after finishing H.I.I.T., so take a break if you need to.
After your short break, you’ll go straight into the body-weight exercises.
These exercises are designed to build a basic level of functional strength in your upper and lower body, as well as your core.
- First up we have pushups! Do as many of these bad boys as you can in 30 seconds, while maintaining proper form. (If you have to, drop down to your knees.)
- Next is jumping squats. As soon as you’ve finished the pushups, you’ll do 30 seconds of jumping squats. Again, form is important, so make sure you’re getting it right.
- After the jumping squats is burpees! Again, do as many as you can in 30 seconds.
- Finally, get on the floor and hold a plank for 30 seconds. (If you can’t manage 30 seconds, just hold it as long as possible.)
After you’ve finished the planks, take a minute break and repeat all four exercises again.
Once you’ve done each exercise twice, five minutes will have passed, and it will be time for the next part of the routine.
Part 4: Steady-state cardio
By now you should be almost falling over from exhaustion, but that’s OK, because you’re only going to be doing a slow jog for the next 10 minutes.
First, hop onto either a treadmill, stationary bike, cross-trainer, or rowing machine. (I wouldn’t recommend rowing, unless you’re already fit enough to go for 10 minutes, if which case you probably wouldn’t be here…)
You’re now going to want to set the resistance (in the case of the cross-trainer and stationary bike) to something relatively low; because you need to keep going for 10 full minutes.
If you’ve chosen the treadmill, I’d recommend a speed of around 7-8km/h (4-5 mph).
Remember, you don’t want to be going too fast, because you won’t be able to maintain it for duration of the exercise.
(As a general rule, if you aren’t capable of having a conversation while doing the exercise, you’re going too fast.)
Once you’ve finished the run/bike/x-train/row, your exercise for the day is finished!
Part 5: Static stretching
After all of that exercise, we’re going to finish up with 5 minutes of static stretching.
There are hundreds of different stretches that you could do, but for this routine, I’m only going to list five. (Five that are appropriate considering the exercise you have just undertaken.)
- First will be a stretch for your quads; standing upright, you’re going to grab your foot and pull it up into your butt as tight as you can. Do both legs, and hold for 30 seconds on each.
- Next up we have a hamstring stretch; sitting down with your legs outstretched, bring one foot inwards towards your groin and facing the opposite thigh. Reach out and try to touch the leg that is still extended with both hands. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and do both your right and left leg.
- Since you’re already on the floor, next up will be a groin stretch. Instead of bringing only one foot inward as with the hamstring stretch, this time you’ll bring both feet inwards, and pull them as close to your groin as possible. Hold this position for 30 seconds, release for a few seconds, and hold it for another 30 seconds.
- Get up off the floor, now it’s time for some upper-body stretches. This stretch is for your shoulders; stretch one arm as straight as possible rotate it inwards towards your chest. With your other arm, come up from underneath and “lock” it at the bicep. Pull the arm as far inwards as you can, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
- Last one! This is a chest stretch; stand upright and with both arms as straight as possible, pull them both away from the body. Hold the stretch for as long as possible, relax, and then do it again.
After you’ve done all 5 stretches, (in both arms/legs), 5 minutes should have passed, and you have now completed the routine.
Congratulations! You just finished the best gym routine for weight loss!
If you do this routine 3-4 times a week, eat a balanced and healthy diet, and get plenty of rest every night, you’ll start losing weight very soon.
If the routine was too hard for you, that’s OK, just take a few more breaks or reduce the speed/intensity until you can do the full thing.
Likewise, if it’s too easy, bump up the intensity or, do it 45-60 minutes instead.
Here’s a final checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything:
- Five minutes of dynamic warm-up
- Five minutes of H.I.I.T.
- Five minutes of body weight exercises
- Ten minutes of moderate intensity steady-state cardio
- Five minutes of static stretching
After you’ve had enough time to completely cool down, I’d recommend cooking up a delicious post-workout meal.
Anything from my article “7 Healthy Lunch Ideas For Weight Loss” will do.