Usually, when someone wants to lose weight, they stop eating carbs, start jogging and join a gym. That’s just “how it’s done”. No one really stops to think or learn about what diet will best suit them; much less what kind of workout plan will best help them reach their goals. They just do.
Clearly, this is coming from a place of fear, masking as motivation. The numbers on the scale are terrifying truths and people will respond emotionally by training hard and eating less.
While being motivated is important, it’s equally important to be level-headed about what you’re doing, lest you risk injury, fast demotivation and even fat gains.
If you want to workout, by all means, do. But make sure you’re doing something that works and that will actually get you the results you want. It’s the same as a diet. You can just cut carbs out of your diet and expect to lose weight; just don’t expect that weight to stay off. If you clean up your diet and make it balanced and healthy all around, you’ll see longlasting improvements. The same happens with your workout plan – be smart about it and the results will show.
But how do you know what kind of workout is best for you?
Below are some of the most popular workout plans. One by one we’ll analyse the pros, the cons and everything in between. Ultimately, we want to know exactly what results each type will have in your body so you can select the best option for your personal goals.
Jogging is usually the go-to strategy for most people looking to lose weight and get fit. This is probably because of its simplicity.
Jogging burns up a lot of calories and as such, many people have great results with it for losing weight.
Running long distances is also great to build stamina and work on endurance. This extends to mental toughness as well as it helps develop a strong mind that will not give up when tired or sore. It’s great to develop discipline.
Running usually takes up quite a chunk from your day. Some people run for two hours everyday, which makes this workout plan harder to stick to if you have a busy schedule.
It may take a long time to achieve your results. While in the beginning you may see great changes, in time your body will get used to jogging and it’ll be harder to lose fat at this point.
The biggest con of jogging, though, is that it’s not a muscle building effective tool. Not only does jogging neglect the upper body muscles, by consuming as much energy as it does, for as long as it does, it often eats away at pre-existing muscle to withdraw energy from.
The potential loss of upper body muscle as well as poor running gear or environmental conditions can lead to injuries.
If you are looking to lose fat and don’t have a lot of technical knowledge nor have someone to guide you, jogging is an excellent workout plan for you as it is also the most simple.
Be prepared for it to be very hard to get started if you’re a complete beginner, so be moderate with your initial runs and you’ll find your endurance will increase rapidly so long as you’re consistent with your runs.
Definitely do jogging if you’re looking to discipline your mind, even if just once a week in between other workout plans.
Because of how easy it is to get injured if you overtrain, be mindful and prepare for that with proper warm ups, apt gear and additional training to build muscle. Warm ups will insure you can prepare your muscles for the strain and keep them from giving in; good running shoes will take away a lot of pressure from your knees and back; and working out your upper body will strengthen it and make you less prone to injuries on your back and neck.
Steady Cardio workouts are another very common choice. It involves using elliptical machines, step, hitting the treadmill, small weights and pretty much anything you can find in a gym to sweat it out as much as possible. This isn’t a strength building workout, this is purely cardio in whatever shape or format for periods of at least an hour.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll see some fairly quick results with this method of training. However, an adequate diet will be super important to extend this productive period as much as possible.
Many people stagnate after a while and may even gain fat. This happens due to what scientists call “overcompensation”. Because you’re spending a lot of calories for prolonged periods of time, your body will then ask for an excessive compensation in terms of the calories you ingest. Simply put, this makes you eat more, oftentimes to the extent you’re putting on more calories than the ones you burned.
The extenuous glycogen consumption in the muscles will also make you crave sweet foods, so unless you have the discipline to stick to fruit, it’ll make you prone to eating unhealthy food and psychologically making you feel like you “earned it”.
If you’re just starting out and have excess weight, this may be a safer option on your knees than jogging. Also, if you are just starting out and have a lot of weight to lose, you will definitely see improvements, however be prepared to switch to other, more efficient plans, as the workout starts to lose efficiency.
Diet and mental discipline surounding food are even more important if you’re aiming for this type of workout.
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is one of the fastest growing cardio movements for good reason. It combines short bursts of high intensity anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods.
It is excellent for burning fat. You can rapidly burn an impressive amount of calories throughout the workout, which will translate to loss of fat. On top of that, the high intensity periods combined with the lower intensity recovery periods create a boost-effect in the body’s metabolism, making you burn more calories throughout the rest of the day as well.
HIIT is also one of the fastest workout plans you can find. In 15 minutes, you can burn more calories than most people do after two hours in the gym. This makes it very easy to fit into your schedule.
It’s speed also means your body won’t have to tap into your muscle to withdraw energy from. This means you get to keep the muscle you worked so hard to get, plus, your appetite won’t suffer from the overcompensation effect.
For some people, structuring an HIIT workout may feel somewhat complex as it does require some knowledge on exercise and fitness.
Also, if you’ve a tendency for hypoglycemia, you may struggle with your first few HIIT workouts. If that’s your case, start modest and progress according to what your body allows.
If you’re determined to lose weight and get lean, this is one of the best options for you. It’s easy to fit into your timetables, so even the busiest of people will be able to find 15 minutes in their day – no excuses.
It provides fast and reliable results and is easily adaptable to varying degrees of fitness, so anyone can benefit from it whether you’re a brand new beginner to physical activity or a professional athlete.
Full Body Routines
Full Body training routines work out your entire body with compound exercises that rely on functionality. This works out all your main muscle groups and usually involves no more than your own body weight.
Since in every workout you target all muscle groups evenly, this leads to a balanced development of the body. Muscle groups which tend to be discriminated (like the legs for men and arms for women) are equally trained.
And given that in every workout all muscle groups are activated, the need for energy is much greater, which means it leads to a high caloric burn and, therefore, is very effective at shredding fat.
With Full Body training, three workouts a week are enough to keep in shape, so it’s also a very time efficent option.
By it’s very nature, Full Body workouts make it harder to target specific muscles, so if you’re looking to build bigger biceps, you’re better off doing so with Split Body Training.
Challenging exercises for all muscle groups also results in a higher metabolic load, which means you’ll have to eat substantially to gain muscle mass, if that’s your aim. This also means that if you don’t have good cardio and endurance, you might struggle through a good Full Body workout.
And while it’s handy that you can do fewer workouts per week, in some cases it is even advised. Given that you’re pushing every muscle group to its limit in every workout, it’s much easier to overtrain with this workout plan.
If you’re either new to working out or have higher levels of fat (above 20% for men and 25% for women), Full Body workouts help you gain strength while shredding fat. If you have higher percentages of fat, it’s easier to lose it; and if you’re new to working out, your muscles will respond well to the Full Body stimulus.
The fact this workout is more time efficient also makes it more practical for people transitioning into an active lifestyle.
Combined with HIIT Training, this plan can lead to some pretty impressive results with weight loss and general fitness.
Split Body Training
Split Body Training refers to targeting specific muscle groups per workout. Oftentimes, people who subscribe to this workout plan have a weekly schedule of what part of their body to train on any given day.
Whether you’re doing Split Body Training with weights or exclusively with your own bodyweight, this option allows you really push the chosen muscles and break through strength plateus.
Not only can you work those muscles harder, you’re also giving them a longer time to recover, which combined allows you to really invest in the muscle growth and strength gains.
The fact it allows for specific muscle targeting is important if, due to a number of factors ranging from genetics, sports you played, injuries, etc, you either have certain under or overdeveloped parts of your body.
If this is your chosen workout plan, you really have to stick to your schedule. Skipping days can easily lead to underdeveloped muscle groups or it will in the very least throw your timetable out of whack.
This will also typically burn fewer calories than the other, more involved options like Full Body training and HIIT. In an arm focused workout, you’ll likely burn fewer calories than you would in a Full Body workout.
Poor planning is also a risk. Overtraining or undertraining a specific part of your body will lead to imbalances, so not only will this affect your bodily shape and look somewhat dysmorphic; it also greatly increases the chances of a possible injury.
If you’re focused on gaining strength and building muscle, this will get you there, but you have to be disciplined and commited to your workout schedule to make it happen. This also requires better planning and a general idea of how your anatomy works so you can consciously choose exercises that work the entirety of your body throughout the week.
Choose YOUR Own Workout Plan
Whichever workout plan you choose, any action is certainly better than no action at all, but at least now you can rest assured that your plan can deliver on the results you’re after.
There is no such thing as the “best workout plan”, all there is is what best suits you. Choose whatever best fits you and feel free to mix and match different plans. Want to do Full Body workouts three times a week and add an additional HIIT day? Do it!
Or let’s say you want to build muscle with Split Body Training five times a week. Want to have some cardio and mental discipline workouts as well? Why not going for a jog on the sixth day?
Weigh in your options, be smart about your workouts and nutrition, plan ahead – and then, no matter what – do it!