For most of my life, I’ve been actively exercising in one way or another. My current workout routine, at least part of which is conducted on a daily basis, has developed over the past couple of years partially out of curiosity, a bit out of very convenient access to a fitness center, a couple of personal role models, my natural competitiveness, and the amount of time I have to devote to the program. It attempts to build or maintain muscle definition, promote cardiac health, and maintain an elevated metabolic rate. This hybrid program works because it remains adaptable to my life circumstances, which can swing wildly from maniacally busy to watching water boil.
The Overall Routine
In general, a full workout of mine consists of almost two hours of weight work four days per week alternating with an hour of power yoga on the days I don’t lift. I aim for an hour of cardio work a minimum of four days per week, usually on those days after I finish lifting, at the fitness center. Abdominal work is done daily.
My Lifting Program
My lifting routine is actually two programs, one performed on Mondays and Thursdays and a second conducted on Tuesdays and Fridays. I utilize a reverse pyramid routine for both, i.e., I do four repetitions of a very, very heavy rate, a lower weight for six repetitions, lower still for eight – until I’m doing a modest but muscle-defining weight for twelve repetitions. For the first program, I concentrate on legs, back, and triceps through a series of three to four exercises per muscle group. Chest, shoulders, chest, and biceps are worked for the second routine, again, using a series of three to four exercises per muscle group. Periodically, exercises targeting specific muscle groups are rotated in or out of use to keep the routine fresh and challenging.
The majority of my lifting involves squat and bench work, and use of dumbbells and a barbell in order to make the workout more challenging. However, on those days when time is limited or I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll use the machines primarily to eliminate the time required to load and unload the barbell.
My Cardio Program
My cardiovascular program is my nemesis and requires both discipline (which I sometimes lack) and always-fresh tunes to keep me moving. I use both the treadmill and the elliptical machine, although I prefer the latter as it seems to work more muscle groups more efficiently. For either machine, I attempt to use a version of a high intensity interval program, or HIIP, where my speed is varied from a lion-is-chasing-you sprint to a slow walk and everywhere in between for periods ranging from seconds to minutes – although to me, a non-runner at heart, it feels like hours. As noted above, I try to perform this self-torture at least four days per week.
My Yoga Workouts
On the days when I’m off from lifting or I’m unable to get to the fitness center due to time constraints, I do one of Rodney Yee’s faster-paced power yoga DVD’s. This helps me to maintain flexibility and core strength.
My Abdominal Workouts
As I said earlier, I do abdominal work daily. If at the fitness center, I’ll use the ab crunch machine using the following set: beginning at 60 lbs. perform 30 reps of “1/2 the number of pounds,” drop to 50 lbs. and do 25 reps, go to 40 lbs. for 20 reps, 15 reps at 30 lbs., and finally 10 to 20 reps at 20 lbs.
When at home, I utilize an old ab workout DVD tape from The Firm, doing three to five of the five total workouts. As I’ve done this workout for going on decades now, I’ve increased the difficulty by adding five-pound weights around each ankle and each upper arm.
This workout works for me: I don’t need to watch my weight or what I eat and I’m relatively healthy. I don’t discount the physical results of my workout, but I do it first and foremost for the grey matter between my ears.