Learn how to Program a Workout like a Pro in 40 Seconds

Program a Workout like a Pro

Learn how to Program a Workout like a Pro in 40 Seconds

We know how it works… You’re a busy professional, you are strapped for time every day and the last thing on your mind is what you will do at the gym after work. You know exercise is important, you enjoy it, but you really need a simple programming option that is goal specific and won’t take 30 minutes to figure it all out.

Now, there are countless exercises that could be a part of a great workout, and several different ways in which those exercises could be configured to give you the right result. So how do you create the best workout for your needs in 30 to 40 seconds…?

Read on for a 3-Step process that tells you how the pro’s set up a workout to match specific fitness goals.

Step #1 – Choose your timing intervals.
When it comes to using a no hassle circuit to meet your exercise goals, choosing the right work-to-rest ratio is key. Whether you want to lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health or improve your VO2max for athletic performance, timing of exercise intervals is what will lead to real results.

Timing Guidelines

Aerobic Workout (Cardiovascular conditioning)
Work Set Time: 1-5 minutes
Rest Period Time: 1-5 minutes
Work to Rest Ratio: 1:1

Anaerobic Workout (HIIT or Metabolic Conditioning / EPOC)
Work Set Time: 15-45 seconds
Rest Period Time: 30-120 seconds
Work to Rest Ratio: 1:2-3

Tabata Style Workout (Improve Vo2 Max)
Work Set Time: 20 seconds
Rest Period Time: 10 seconds
Work to Rest Ratio: 2:1

Every exercise plan should be made up of work periods, followed directly by a period of rest or active recovery. If you are new to exercise, using an aerobic circuit is a safe introduction to this type of workout where a work-to-rest ratio of 1:1 is appropriate. This means that the work and recovery times are equal and so the workout becomes somewhat steady state. This could mean doing an exercise for two minutes, and then undertaking active recovery for two minutes.

An example of active recovery could be slowly jogging or walking back and forth along our sled track here at F1rst Class Fitness. Alternatively, you could just slow down the exercise you are doing, or change to a different exercise that will allow your heart rate return to a lower level.

For more of a challenge, use an anaerobic circuit to take your fitness to the next level. If you change the work-to-rest ratio to 1:3, the overall work time should decrease to allow for an increase in intensity. For example, if you exercise for 15 seconds and then rest 45 seconds, you should be able to work harder for a shorter period of time, yet recover fully before the next exercise begins. This type of circuit training will have a greater impact on your overall caloric burn, both during and after the workout is completed, which is called excess post oxygen consumption, or EPOC.

If you are looking to improve performance markers like VO2max, using the Tabata protocol is a great option. Tabata training is highly advanced and should only be used by those of you who are already fit and have a high cardiovascular threshold. This circuit includes 20 seconds of very high intensity work followed by only 10 seconds of recovery.

Step #2 – Choose the body part or parts you want to target.
Targeted workouts can be used for both strength and cardiovascular training, and even both simultaneously, making targeted workouts ideal for those who are strapped for time. After choosing your timing intervals based on your goals in Step #1, select a few exercises to put together for one round of your workout, typically four to eight exercises.

These exercises could be any combination of bodyweight (calisthenics) movements, stationary cardiovascular machines, or free-weight resistance exercises. For a true targeted workout to be successful, however, the exercises that you choose should focus on your specific training goals. For example, if your goal is to improve strength in your legs, try adding a lunge to your aerobic workout. Want to lose weight to for a holiday coming up? Use full-body exercises like burpees in your anaerobic workout. If you have performance goals in mind, do your Tabata workout on a stationary bike or treadmill perhaps.

Regardless of the exercises and equipment you choose, make sure to use proper form, especially when you start to get tired. Because of the increased intensity of this form of training, when fatigue starts to set in, form goes out the window and that’s when an injury might occur. Obviously, we want to avoid that!

Step #3 – Choose the number of rounds.
Depending on the amount of time you have available and your current fitness level, choose how many rounds to be completed. If you only have 30 minutes, after a five-minute warm-up, use an anaerobic targeted workout to torch away a few calories of fat by using a 1:3 work-to-rest ratio (eg: work for 15 seconds, rest for 45) and repeat as many times is possible in the time you have remaining.

Just be sure to include a 3-4 minute cool-down before heading back to work.

Also, remember, whatever timing intervals, exercises and repetition of rounds you choose, be sure to work hard during the “work” periods and actively rest during your recovery time.

  • The FCF Team