Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by Michael Brockbank
Everyone has their ideas of the best gym routine. And while some “experts” try to sell you on the ideal weight loss regimen, it really comes down to personal preference. Not everyone has the same goals and needs in mind.
With that being said, I want to share my gym routine and why I picked the exercises I focus on the most. Then, perhaps you can get a few ideas for yourself and what you want to accomplish.
Also, keep in mind that this is a routine that works best for me and my situation. Everyone is different, so, I’m not saying this is the best way to work out.
Nonetheless, I can’t argue with the results that are coming along nicely.
What’s Included in My Gym Routine?
First, keep in mind that I’m not trying to turn myself into a bodybuilder. I simply want to lose weight while adding a bit of mass. I’m not trying to look like Arnold from 40 years ago.
That’s actually part of setting up the perfect routine for yourself…knowing your goals. But I’ll get into that a bit later.
So, what does my favorite gym routine include?
1. Machine Fly
One of my favorite machines at Planet Fitness is the Fly. In this exercise, you’re using the shoulders, chest, and (to a lesser extent) triceps to perform a weighted fly motion.
Essentially, you’re moving the weight from the outside of your body and pulling it into the center mass.
This exercise made a big impact on my personal record for consecutive push-ups. And I do geek out a bit when I flex my pecs and feel how solid they are becoming.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling yourself up. After all, that’s one of the best ways to get an idea about how much muscle you’re developing.
2. Machine Lower Back Extension
Another one of my go-tos is the Lower Back Extension machine. Mostly, this helps me adapt to lower back pain, which I’ve had ever since I literally spun myself in half when I was about 12.
In any case, the more I work on my lower back, the less it hurts throughout the week.
When you get to my age, anything that can help alleviate back pain without popping pills is ideal. So, I try different exercises to help with this. Outside of stretching, the lower back extension has made the biggest difference.
3. Lat Pulldown
The Lat Pulldown is a prime example of compound movement. Much like the Machine Fly I mentioned a second ago, you use a series of muscles to perform the task.
In this case, pulling the weights down to shoulder level.
This machine works out the lateral muscles in your back, the deltoids in your shoulder, and your biceps. Instead of just focusing on working out one muscle group, the Lat Pulldown hits three.
4. Machine Ab Crunch
One of my physical goals is to “Magic Mike” myself. It’s a running joke about slimming down and looking “cut.” Part of the process is developing abs.
Not to mention I have a lot of visceral stomach fat to get rid of.
At any rate, I like doing the Machine Ab Crunch because I’m able to add weight in a controlled manner. This greatly increases the resistance when performing a crunch, which adds more work to those muscles.
But remember, everyone technically has abs. If you don’t see them, it’s because there is too much filler in front of them. Abs are essentially made in the kitchen.
In other words, lower carbs and more exercise to start showing those ab muscles.
5. Tricep Pushdown
As I want my arms to appear somewhat balanced, I’ve added the Tricep Pushdown. Contrary to the belief of some, you can get quite a bit of bicep work from the Lat Pulldown. So, I wanted something for the triceps.
In fact, the Tricep Pushdown probably made the biggest impact on setting several bodyweight exercise records for myself.
Not to mention the fact that I also geek out when I see the definition in my triceps. I’m a simple man, what can I say?
6. 15 Minutes of Walking at 3.8 MPH
As a way to cool down, I finish off my gym routine with a fast-paced walk on the treadmill. Usually, I’ll set the machine for 3.5 mph. Lately, though, I’ve been cranking it up to 3.8 mph for a case study I’m doing.
Yes, it’s going to be an article soon.
Anyway, going for this 15-minute walk ensures I work up a sweat before leaving the gym. Plus, it gets me home in time to get back to work.
Not only that, but walking is very effective for me when it comes to losing weight. The vast majority of the weight I’ve lost since 2016 has been because of increasing my daily step count.
Increasing the Weight by 5 Pounds Each Week
So, with the exercises out of the way, it’s time to think about making the routine more difficult over time. This is because I don’t want to get bored doing the same thing over and over.
Every week, I increase the weight by 5 pounds on each machine. If I’m able to do all of my sets without having to stop in between, then I plan on increasing the weight again the following week.
Why don’t I go for maximum effort with the weights? Because I’m not trying to look like a bodybuilder. I have no interest in being bulky. Instead, I prefer to side with stamina, speed, and longevity.
The primary goal of going to the gym is to help me lose fat and define muscle. I’m perfectly content doing rapid movements with weighted cardio than trying to lift a semi-truck.
3 Sets at 20 Reps Each
When on the machines, I focus on 3 sets of 20 reps for each. By the end of the third set, I’m struggling to finish. If I can, then I add the five extra pounds to the next week’s set.
To be honest, I’m not sure why I started hitting 20 reps per set. I know I started doing it in 2015, but don’t really think it had anything to do with a specific purpose. It was just something I started with and kept over the years.
Sometimes, I Have to Change it Up, Though
Unfortunately, sometimes I have to change up the routine. Mostly, this is because there will be several people in the gym who apparently have the same routine as me.
At which point, I try to find a machine or exercise that would work out the same relative area.
For example, let’s say I wanted to use the lat pulldown and someone was taking their sweet time on the unit. I would then try to get on a row machine as it also works on various muscles in the back.
If the tricep pushdown was busy, then using the parallel bar for dips can be just as effective. Except, in this case, it’s using my body weight.
My ultimate fallback, especially if the gym is incredibly busy, is to just jump on the treadmill.
Why This Gym Routine Over Something Else?
Is this the perfect gym routine for everyone? Absolutely not. But, it’s the perfect routine for me. And that’s the ultimate point of creating your own routines.
Everyone will have specific needs, wants, and aspirations. The best thing you can do is come up with a plan of what you want to achieve. Then, find the best exercises to achieve your goals.
For me, everything above delivers a near full-body workout. In fact, when I started this routine after a 4-month hiatus, I felt exactly what muscles were being worked thanks to DOMS.
This is when your muscles are sore from extensive use during a workout. Everything from my ass to my neck felt as though it was on fire. So, I can attest to just how many muscles are worked in this routine.
The only thing that didn’t hurt was my obliques, which I wind up working the piss out of when I play the Xbox Kinect.
What About Leg Work?
So, why don’t I work on my legs when doing my gym routine? Because of the workout my legs already get during my non-gym days.
I usually play a lot of Xbox Kinect or walk around in the backyard.
When playing games like Virtual Smash, I perform a lot of squats to duck the flying bricks. Not to mention using my legs to break blocks in the game. When I play tennis on the Kinect, I am hoping around all over my living room. And a lot of the time, I perform squats in that game as well.
This isn’t to mention how much of a strain you put on your legs when trying to maintain a fast-paced walk…both on the treadmill and in the backyard.
To be honest, my legs get more of a workout than any other part of my body throughout the week. This is probably why I’ve received compliments from past…“friends”…especially when it comes to my calves.
Does a Routine Really Matter when Going to the Gym?
There’s nothing wrong with going to the gym and just working on whatever you feel like that day. Any activity and resistance training is going to be beneficial overall.
However, having a good routine lets you focus on specific needs and wants without looking lost.
Plus, having a set plan and routine for the gym saves you time. Instead of standing there thinking about what you should try next, you’re going in with a purpose. For people who are as busy as I am, this is a time saver.
I have a narrow window for working out on any given day. Having a plan makes sure I can get in a decent workout while also making sure I get home on time to get to work.
What’s the Best Way to Set Up Your Own Gym Routine?
A lot of “experts” out there have the “perfect” workout routines for your needs. Well, as long as you come up with the money to join memberships on top of the gym fees.
In reality, you can create your own personalized routines just by having an idea about what you want to accomplish. And since the Internet is FULL of fitness websites that are free to read, it won’t take you long to create the perfect plan for yourself.
Know Your Goals for the Gym Routine
First, define your fitness goals. Your goals are going to play a prominent role in your routines. For example, I add the fast-paced walk at the end because I want more cardio in my routine to help burn fat.
And no, I don’t view walking as a waste of time at the gym because I know I need more steps in the day. I spend about 16 hours sitting at my desk, and every step counts. Cardio is a premium for me.
I use all six machines above because those are the areas of my body I want to work on. Notice that I don’t add leg machines in the mix.
My point is that you need to consider what you want and what workouts will get you there. And even though Exercise.com isn’t nearly the awesome site it was in the past, it still has an incredible library of exercises and videos you can use for free.
You can find all kinds of exercises on the site that you can do both at the gym and at home.
Learn the Equipment and Proper Technique
Next, make sure you learn how to use the equipment properly. Having a grasp on good technique can mean the difference between a decent workout and heading to the emergency room.
It’s incredibly easy to hurt yourself at the gym, especially if you get into ego lifting. This is when you try to lift far more weight than your body can actually handle safely.
Regardless, respect gym equipment. Because it doesn’t care if you tear your rotator cuff or pass out after trying to do a deadlift that was way beyond your capacity.
Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself
It’s OK to push yourself if you’re trying to build mass or otherwise add strength to various parts of your body. As I said above, I frequently increase the weight I lift every week, but not to the point of going gonzo with the body mass.
When you do push yourself, don’t go hog wild. If you can barely bench 80 pounds today, don’t shoot for the moon with 300 tomorrow. That’s a good way of getting yourself hurt.
Personally, when I’m trying to find my safe baseline limit, I’ll increase the weight by 5-pound increments after every 10 reps. This way, I can find my limitations without tearing the hell out of myself.
Keep in mind that I’ll be 46 soon. It’s getting easier and easier to really hurt myself at the gym.
Routines Can Change
There’s nothing wrong with changing your routine depending on the circumstance. Over the years, I’ve made many adjustments to my routine, and I’m sure it’ll undergo another transformation before the year is out.
For example, as soon as I lose the last 30 pounds, I’ll start focusing more on cycling. This is because I’ve made it a goal to cross Colorado on a bicycle next May. So, I need to start training myself for that soon.
This is quite an undertaking for someone who spends as much time as I do sitting at a desk.
Learning from Gym Routine DOMS
Lastly, and I know you don’t want to hear it, but DOMS can be a great indicator of workouts. By feeling the burn the next day, you can tell if your routine is working the muscles you want.
DOMS can also help you determine if you’ve overdone the exercise. It’s easy to push yourself well beyond your limits on day one. Then, you feel like chewed bubblegum for the next week and a half.
You should only feel the soreness for about two or three days at most depending on the workout and your level of physical prowess.
If the soreness lasts more than a week, it’s your body telling you that you pushed yourself WAY too far. Reel it back and slowly work your way up to that point.
What Do You Want to Work On the Most?
A gym routine can help you achieve some physical goals especially if you’re under time constraints. Create a good balance for what you want to achieve and understand why you want to work on those areas.
Just don’t forget that there’s nothing wrong with changing your routine over time. Goals can change, and so can your workout.