Basics for Making Effective Gym Workout Routines

Having a gym workout routine in place helps keep you motivated to get to the gym and is important in your overall fitness plan. It’s recommended that adults get a good balance of cardio and strength training. This week we’ll look at some basics for effective gym workout routines and next week we’ll look at basics for effective fitness routines for home.

Starting Point

1As a baseline, you should determine your stability and mobility, see how you perform 4 basic movements: bodyweight squats, lunges, pushups and overhead reaches. Are you able to perform these exercises using proper form? Judge your stability: are you weak, do you have shaky muscles?

Bodyweight Squats 

Can you keep your torso upright with knees tracking over your toes? Can you perform this move without falling forward, without your knees buckling? If not, you need to work on flexibility in your ankles, hips, upper back or core.


Is your torso erect, are you staying balanced without shifting from side to side? If not, your hip and ankle mobility needs attention.


Can you do this move keeping your back straight? Did your elbows flare outward? Are your shoulders firm? If not, you need to focus on strengthening your core and triceps.

Overhead Reaches

Does your core stay engaged or do your ribs flare out? Can you lift your arms forward and over your head? Are your arms staying straight with your thumbs pointing behind you? If you cannot fully reach, you need work on your upper back mobility, your core and hips.

Two Major Workout Targets

For optimal health and fitness, be sure your workout includes 2 major targets: cardio and strength training.


2Cardio exercise is one of the most beneficial exercises, helping your body to burn fat, improves metabolism, manage (maybe prevent) diabetes, fight depression, lessen fatigue, enhance recovery times, etc. Be sure your workout routine includes a few of the following exercises:

  • Stationary Bicycling
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Treadmill Walking
  • Treadmill Running
  • Swimming

Strength Training

Strength training has many benefits beyond the obvious:

  • Protects bone health and muscle mass
  • Helps in weight loss and keeping that weight off
  • Develops better body mechanics
  • Manages chronic disease
  • Improves balance

3To target your strength levels, include some (or all) of the following in your gym workout:

  • Power-Based Exercises
  • Box Jumps
  • Compound Lifts
  • Single Leg Exercises
  • Hamstring Maintenance
  • Upper Body Exercises
  • Push Exercises
  • Pull Exercises
  • Core  

(For information on these moves, and others, see the gym workout plan formed by J. Anderson.)

Just Checking

It’s important to periodically do a self-check of your fitness plan. The three essential components of a successful fitness routine are:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Body Control

How much improvement are you seeing in these components?


Body fitness is subjective and different for everyone. Determine your goals, what skills you want to gain or maintain, what you want to target and why (do you want to be strong enough or have enough endurance to do strenuous hiking, run a marathon, play with your kids without getting winded, etc?). Find your baseline for the 4 essential exercises and focus your workout on those areas you performed weakly in. Periodically evaluate your progress and be prepared to adjust your workout accordingly. If you’re making noticeable progress then it’s time to move on, adjust your routine so that you’re increasingly challenging yourself. Take the advice and guidance of a personal trainer in all steps – determining your baseline levels, designing a workout plan, evaluating and redesigning your workout as needed.



14 Ways to Spot Your Weaknesses,” Jim Smith,

2Cardio Workout Program,”

3How to Build Your Own Workout Routines – Advice from a Two-time Olympian,” J. Anderson,


Image Credit:

Post by Andrea Rogers