Find the Perfect Workout - Answer These 3 Questions
As March nears, you've probably experienced a decline of gym patrons. As January rolled around, many wanted to lose weight, build muscle, and get into shape.
But what happened?
Could they not go into autopilot and consistently go to the gym? Were they trying to sustain a routine that simply isn't built for their lifestyle?
Related - Get Shredded in 8 Weeks
Whatever it is, many stop exercising and lifting weights due to three things:
- They don't know if they should use free weights or machines
- They don't know if they should have a workout partner or not
- They don't know if they like working out at the gym or at home
Look, you have to keep workouts interesting — they compel you to go back to the gym and try again. You know the health benefits of working out, so what makes someone "fall off the bandwagon?"
Below, we will go over the three questions you need to ask yourself to find your workout preferences so you can start training more consistently and seeing progress.
Find the Perfect Workout
#1 - Should I Use Free Weights or Machines?
When it comes down to using free weights or machines, there can be a lot to consider.
The first thing you need to look at is your cardio — do you perform a lot, a little, or none? Do you prefer to do the cardio before or after you lift?
Ideally, you should use cardio for improving heart health and not just to lose weight. Using machines after a long cardio session can keep the risk of injury down.
Machines are safer and easier to use, but free weights will always win in regards to the effectiveness of building muscle. But that doesn't mean you have to lift weights to see progress.
If you're a beginner, jumping onto some machines can give you a feel for the movement. While machines are great for learning, they could cause a repetitive stress issue.
Free weights are great for people who may not be an average size. If you are larger like I was, or you are tall, you've probably found many machines to be impossible. You can't fit, you have to twist your body just to get in, and you definitely can't reach the handles.
Using free weights are great for those who are larger than life. Free weights are great for those with poor posture or other injuries, too. Lifting heavy is going to build the most muscle, as long as your form is good.
Free weights will require more practice and learning proper techniques, but the payoff is worth it.
If you have goals to build a lot of muscle or make drastic body recomposition changes, finding your way to the free weights may be the best option. If you're looking to simply get into shape, get active, and maybe try free weights later, machines are a great choice.
Remember, there's no right or wrong answer — be honest with yourself and make a choice. You can always change later after you've gained some experience.
#2 - Should I Have a Gym Partner or Not?
Some people thrive around a friend or workout partner, while others would rather just train alone.
Both have their pros and cons, so let's go over them.
Committing to a healthy workout routine can be difficult, so some find motivation by having a workout partner. You know someone else is about to go through the same hell you are... and that makes you feel better.
You thrive on friendly competition and you want to lift more than your partner, right? If you've hit a plateau in your training or need motivation, a gym partner can help push you.
One study published in the Royal Society journal's Biology Letters found that exercising in a group can increase your endorphin release. They believe this is due to communal workouts providing a sense of belonging.
But there's a catch.
Another study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people will mimic the exercise behavior of those around them. That means if the people you are training with are going easy, you're going to go easy.
So if you like heavy, grueling workouts, you may be better off training alone. If your workout objectives are different than your partner's, it could be best to focus on your workouts to get your desired end result.
If you want the best of both worlds, find someone in the gym to help spot you. You reduce the risk of injury or getting pinned under the bar, but you don't have to put up with someone else's crap.
You know, being late, not showing up at all, not training hard, and generally being a nuisance.
Be honest with yourself and find what gets you motivated. There's nothing wrong with having a workout partner, just make sure you have chosen one that will be conducive to your goals.
#3 - Should I Train at a Gym or Home?
A question I get a lot is if someone should go train at a gym or build a home gym. That's a hard one to answer, honestly.
This one comes down to your personality — do you feed off of other people's energy? Do you need motivation from a partner?
On the other hand, if you workout at home, you need to ask yourself if you get easily sidetracked at home and if you are self-motivated.
Being self-conscious or working out at off times are two other reasons a home gym could be a good choice.
Buying equipment for your home may be expensive, and there are many 24 hour gyms available... but what would make training at home over the gym better? Not everyone loves the gym, and that's okay.
I personally have a home gym due to being introverted and self-conscious... but I prefer training at home due to no distractions. No cute girls that are so far out of my league that I shouldn't even be looking at them, no one trying to half rep barbell curls, and no one to yell at me if I get chalk everywhere.
Workout at the gym if:
- You feed off of others' energy
- You get easily sidetracked at home
- You enjoy being out of the house
- You have a convenient and affordable gym by you
- Workout at home if:
- You can afford to get some equipment — you don't need much
- You are self-conscious
- You are self-motivated
- You don't want any distractions
Wrapping It Up
When it comes down to making progress, you have to consistently exercise. That doesn't mean you need to train for hours on end daily — it means you need to find a way to exercise when you are supposed to. You know, the workout program you are following.
If consistency is key, what is it that helps us stay consistent?
If you truly hate being around others, especially while you are sweating and making ugly faces trying to lift weight, then you eventually will rationalize not going to the gym. If you don't like the people who stare, the people who always bother you, or you are simply uncomfortable in the gym, you should look at home gym options.
Set yourself up for success by sitting down and answering these questions. The only way you're going to make progress is if you start working with your personality instead of against it. That is unless you can just will your way through everything.