Too many gym-goers focus on problem areas instead of exercising the entire body. You know the deal, guys spend 20 minutes working the pecs and 10 minutes on everything else; women exercise the butt and core muscles but stay clear of working the shoulders and chest. By following a three-day-a-week, weight-training routine focusing on all of your muscles, you can get a full-body proportioned workout designed to get your body looking fit.
This workout, like most resistance-training workouts, should have a day of rest between each session to give your muscles some rest. Monday, Wednesday and Friday works well. Keep each workout session between 30 and 45 minutes. You’ll work each primary muscle group once per week to start and aim for 12 repetitions per set to keep it simple. The final two reps should be difficult to lift; if not, increase the resistance. Hitting each muscle group once per week will help keep your body in full proportion and looking like it should. Feel free to mix in 30 to 60 minutes of cardio exercise on your off days. Cardio helps burn fat, improves cardiovascular health and tightens your lower body.
Upper Legs and Arms
Start off your upper legs and arms session by working your quadriceps and hamstrings using squats or leg presses. After this first set, do a set of 12 dumbbell bicep curls followed by 12 tricep overhead extensions. Rest about 60 seconds between each set. Do three sets of each exercise to complete the workout. You can swap out these exercises with others that work identical muscle groups, such as doing close-hand pushups instead of overhead extensions for the triceps.
Chest and Back
Workout No. 2 for the chest and back should start with a set of barbell bench presses. You could alternatively use any resistance training machine designed to exercise the pectoral muscles to get this done. After about a minute of rest, do a set of seated cable rows to work the upper-back muscles. Complete this circuit by targeting your lower back with a set of back extensions using an exercise ball or inclined abdominal bench. Do two or three sets of each of these exercises to complete the day’s workout.
Shoulders and Calves
For tight and toned upper arms, back and shoulders, it’s important to target the deltoids. Seated dumbbell shoulder presses will do the trick. After a set of shoulder presses, rest for 60 seconds and then do a set of standing calf raises. For maximum benefit, hold light dumbbells for a little extra resistance while performing calf raises. You can also do calf raises on the edge of a step to improve their effectiveness. Do three sets of each exercise to complete the workout. As an alternative to shoulder presses, you can target the individual deltoid muscles by combining front dumbbell raises, side dumbbell raises and bent-over dumbbell flyes for the rear delts.
Unlike your other major muscle groups, you can safely and effectively exercise your abs on consecutive days and up to five days per week. The reason is that you’re usually not applying significant resistance to these muscles using exercises such as crunches, leg lifts and reverse crunches. To ensure your ab muscles remain in proportion to the rest of your body, end each of your three workouts for the week with about three to five minutes of abdominal training using any of your favorite ab exercises. Alternatively, you could exercise your abs on your off days along with your cardio workout.
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.