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Best Workout Routines for the Gym

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 11/21/2010

The best workout routines for the gym will combine alternating and varying strength training regimens with cardiovascular work to bring about a complete transformation of your body that makes you look and feel great. The means to make yours is right here.

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    Finding the best workout routines for the gym necessarily involves combining strength training and cardiovascular exercise. However, there are so many variations of effective routines and exercises that you can do for each, that the key is keeping your time at the gym fresh by changing it up routinely. By switching it up every 3 weeks, you’ll avoid stagnation, the feeling that you're in a boring rut, and hitting a plateau which inhibits you’re muscles from getting the maximum benefit. Having a good plan and sticking to it doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym. But that plan should be in writing so that you can track and log your reps and sets in strength training while also keeping track of the cardio you’re doing in terms of time, level, and intensity. Using one of the resources we gathered in these online templates to stay fit is an easy and efficient way to record your customized plan. With the specific exercises listed below, divide your plan into three alternating days for strength and three days for cardio. For strength, it’s a good idea break it up into a day for legs and shoulders; back and biceps; and chest and triceps. In addition, you’ll have to add your core muscles once or twice a week as well. If you’ve got any questions about proper form, talk to a fitness trainer at the gym, it’s what they’re there for.

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    Establish a Motivation List and Refer to it Frequently

    Motivation and the right attitude is everything in maintaining a consistent training regimen. Whatever you consider to be the best workout routines for the gym for your purposes and body type, you have to take a look at your motives to ensure that your foundation will stand up to all the excuses and sloth that can crop up. The old maxim that if you’ve got a strong enough why, the how will surely follow. Everybody is different, so explore your mind to align your body with the goals of your fitness plan at the gym. The following examples should help you.

    • Losing fat/weight, looking sleeker, toned, and at your peak
    • Gaining more strength
    • Being fit for other activities; hiking, biking, or climbing for example
    • Bulking up and gaining muscle
    • Treating and maintaining your body as the spiritual vessel that it is
    • Attaining a stronger heart and more healthy lungs
    • Learning new things, staying committed to positive action
    • Avoiding future pain, injury, and illnesses by consistently exercising
    • You’ve found fun gym routines that you’ll enjoy sticking to
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    More Details About the Best Workout Routines For the Gym for Optimum ConditioningContinuing on with our outline for the best workout routines for the gym, the second page of this article details more of the specific strength routines for specific body parts divided into the optimum weekly schedule. These become fun gym routines when approached with the right attitude, which was discussed already in the article, when they're varied. In cardio especially, you have so many different options so you can vary that virtually every time you're at the gym.
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    Best Strength Training Workout Routines for the Gym (Three Times a Week, Alternating Days)

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    Legs & Shoulders

    LEGS

    Squats. Use a squat rack with the bar resting comfortably just below your shoulders in the thick of your upper back. Start with low weight, gradually increasing over time. Since the correct posture is vital, please read How to do Squats Properly: Learn the Proper Squat Technique. Do 4 sets of 10, 8, 6, and 4 with increasing weight.

    Lunges. Standing with one foot forward ensuring the knee doesn't go past the toes, lower your hips into a lunge keeping both the front and back knees at approximately a 90 degree angle. Work up to using dumbbells at your sides or resting a barbell on your back to increase strength. Do 3 sets of 8 - 10.

    Calf Raises. Use the calf machines at the gym and do 2 sets of 20 for these. Performing the best exercises to strengthen ankles is a good idea if you’ve ever had ankle trouble.

    SHOULDERS

    Military Press. Use the machine. Do 3 sets of 8 - 10.

    Shoulder Shrugs. 3 sets 8 -12.

    Dumbbell Raises to the side. 3 sets 8 -12.

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    Chest and Triceps

    Bench Press. 3 sets of 8 -10 reps.

    Tricep Pull Down. 3 sets of 8 -12 reps.

    Dumbbell Press. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

    Diamond Pushups. Do as many as you can for 3 sets.

    Chest Flys. Use dumbells or fly machine; 2 sets of 20.

    Tricep Extensions. 3 sets of 8 -10 reps.

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    Back and Biceps

    Bench Press. 3 sets of 8 -10 reps.

    Tricep Pull Down. 3 sets of 8 -12 reps.

    Dumbbell Press. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

    Diamond Pushups. Do as many as you can for 3 sets.

    Chest Flys. Use dumbbells or fly machine; 2 sets of 20.

    Tricep Extensions. 3 sets of 8 -10 reps.

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    Back and Biceps Plus Core

    Push Ups. 2 sets of 25, do a few more each week.

    Straight Barbell Curls. 3 sets of 8 -10 reps.

    Lateral Pull Downs. 3 sets of 8 -12 reps.

    Concentrated Curls. 2 sets of 12 - 15 reps.

    Reverse Fly Machine. 3 sets of 8 -12 reps.

    Row Machine/ Upright Rows. 3 sets of 8 -12 reps.

    Train your Core for Ultimate Strength and The 6 Best AB Workouts provide the optimum exercises to build that core which needs to be strong as it’s the foundation to many of these other exercises and used in just about every movement.

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    Cardio Workouts

    Most gyms offer a wide variety of options for cardio workouts. Treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, elipticals, and stairmasters are among the many you can choose from. With that variety, you can change it up every time you go to the gym if you find that you don't have a routine. The other great thing about cardio is that you don't have to go to the gym if you're short on time. You can run around the neighborhood or even walk briskly. Start off your cardio with 20 minutes as the goal and gradully work your time up to 30 or 45 minutes and increase the intensity with which you get after it. There you have it, an excellent selection of exercises, all coordinated to make your trips to the gym prepare you for ultimate conditioning.