Our Favourite Workout Routines for the Gym

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The gym can be potentially dangerous if you are performing the wrong workout routines. While plenty of people flock to personal trainers to create gym workout plans and training programs, not everyone can afford that luxury.That’s why it is important to dedicate time towards gym education so that you are working out safely.


Taking a few key fitness goals, such as improving cardiovascular health, strength building, and working your core, these workouts are a great start for anyone who needs guidance in the gym. 


As with any fitness routine, it’s important that you know your capacity and work within it to avoid injury. Don’t go too hard too fast, take your time to rest between sets, and don’t hit the gym everyday until you’ve been performing these workout routines comfortably for at least a month beforehand. 


If you don’t know where to begin, which machines to use, or which workouts to follow, here are a few of our favourite gym exercise plans.


Gym workout plan for cardiovascular health


A good workout routine for your heart is one that increases your breathing and gets your heart rate pumping. Otherwise known as aerobic exercise or cardio, working out your heart keeps it healthy, helps prevent heart disease, and improves your circulation and lung capacity. While there are plenty of good workouts you can do from home to exercise your heart, we’ll focus specifically on the best exercises you can do at the gym. 


1. Stationary bike: This is a great low-impact cardio exercise that will work out your heart while also developing leg strength. Many gyms offer spin classes which you can attend if you prefer to do your routine in a group, otherwise it's easy to use the stationary bike on your own. 


Start by cycling at a slow, easy rhythm for 5-10 minutes and then increase your pace to around 25km/hour, cycling at this steady pace for around half an hour. At the end of your session, rest for 5 minutes and finish off with some simple stretches.


2. Elliptical: This is an excellent workout for your heart that puts less stress on your knees, hips, and back compared to other exercises like using a treadmill. Start by warming up slowly, then slowly increase your speed as you pedal your legs back and forth. 


It's essential to keep your back straight and look forward while using an elliptical (rather than down at your feet). When you feel ready, you can start to increase the resistance on the machine for a stronger workout. Use the machine for half an hour and finish off with a short rest and simple stretches.


3. High intensity training: This is one of the best exercises you can do to increase overall fitness while giving your heart a great workout. Combining resistance training with body weight exercises and other aerobic workouts, high intensity training gets you moving hard and fast. Just make sure that your workout is kept under 45 minutes in order to not over exert your body. 


The intensity of this kind of gym workout can be too much for some people to handle on their own, so it’s a great idea to attend group classes that keep you motivated in a community-focused atmosphere. 


4. Rowing machine: Using the rowing machine not only gives your heart an excellent workout, but also tones your muscles and helps build strength. To really target your heart, lungs, and circulatory system, lower the tension on the machine so you can row with less resistance. Spend around 45-60 minutes on the rowing machine for best results, gradually increasing your time to 90 minutes to really give your heart a healthy workout.


The exercises outlined above are just some of our favourites for cardiovascular health. Other gym workouts you can do for your heart include using a jump rope or attending aerobics classes if available. 


Group workout sessions are always great for motivation and getting the guidance of an experienced trainer. That said, if you’re doing the above workouts alone, don’t be afraid to ask a gym attendant for help with adjusting the machines or correcting your form. 


Gym exercise plan for core strength


Core strength is essential to keeping your body stable when moving, and exercises that target your abdominal muscles are the key to building a powerful core. Whether you’re looking to create more definition in your waist, sculpt a rock hard six pack, or just build your core for more strength and balance, this exercise regimen will target your abdominal muscles to do all of the above. 


This gym routine mixes both isolation exercises and compound moves, which means you'll be focusing on your abs but also working out your upper and lower body at the same time. This workout can be done on its own as a great core strength workout, or at the end of your gym routine to really engage those deeper core muscles. 


1. Dumbbell crunch: Grab a dumbbell or weight plate and lay on your back, holding it across your chest with both hands. Raise your torso and then lower it back to the ground, keeping your upper abs tense as you move back and forth. Rest for 10 seconds and then repeat, completing 10 reps. 


2. Boat pose remix: Lie on your back with your legs stretched in front of you and arms straight by your side. Lift your legs and arms off the floor, then slowly raise your torso and bring in your legs so that your knees touch your chest. Keep your arms straight as you perform this movement, and then slowly stretch your legs back and bring your torso back to the floor. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat 12 reps. 


3. Tuck and crunch: Lay down with your hands by your head and legs raised, knees bent at a right angle. Slowly raise your torso, and at the same time, bring your knees in towards your chest. Keep your fingers by your head throughout this movement. Slowly extend back into the original position, keeping legs bent and raised off the floor. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat 15 times.


4. Hanging leg raises: Start in a dead hang position, keeping your legs straight with ankles and knees together. Keep your legs straight and together,  slowly raise them 90 degrees, then back to starting position. Rest for 10 seconds and perform 10 reps. 


5. Now twist: Continuing on from the previous exercise, start in a dead hang with legs straight. This time, twist your body and raise your knees to the right, back straight, and then to the left. Rest for 10 seconds and perform 12 reps on each side. 


6. Raise higher: Still in a dead hang, this time start with your knees bent and raised a little. From this position, raise your knees even higher - as high as you can - then lower back to starting position. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat 20 times.


7. Declining plank remix: Get into a forearm plank position with your feet raised on a bench behind you. Lift one foot off the bench and touch it to the floor beside you, then bring it back again, repeating with the opposite foot. Rest for 10 seconds and perform 10 reps on each side. 


8. Bicycle crunch: Lay on your back with hands beside your head and legs raised, knees bent at a right angle. Slowly bring one knee up towards your chest, while raising your torso and twisting to the opposite side so that your elbow touches your knee. Lower back to starting position and repeat on the other side, making sure to keep your shoulders and feet off the ground. Rest for 10 seconds and repeat 15 times on each side.


Feel your abs burning yet? This core-strengthening gym workout routine is one mean exercise regime, but it will have you building ab muscles fast and hard. For that reason, make sure to take the time to rest in between each set, and only perform this gym workout 2-3 times a week. 


On the other days, you can focus on working out other aspects of your fitness and target other muscles for a great weekly all-body workout session.


Best workout routine to build strength


If your goal is to burn fat and bulk up in the gym, these exercises will help you build strength by combining both compound exercises as well as more isolated movements to target specific muscle groups. Using free weights will make this gym routine a lot more effective. 


Just  make sure that you are using them correctly and have selected the right weight for your ability before you begin. It is important that you either: Use free weights wisely, or ditch them altogether to avoid risk of an injury. If you are unsure, ask a gym attendant to ensure that you are working out correctly.


1. Dumbbell bench press: Lay down on a bench holding dumbbells across your chest, with feet on the floor directly beneath your knees. Slowly lower the dumbbells to your chest and lift them back up again, planting your feet into the floor to help give you an extra push. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps, resting 60 seconds between each set. 


2. Back squat: Grab a barbell and rest it behind your head on your back, and plant your feet shoulder-width apart with feet facing slightly outwards. Gaze at a spot on the ground about two metres in front of you, keep your back straight, and then sit back as if on a chair. 

Keep sinking until your hips are just below the knees, then slowly raise yourself up again while keeping your weight on your heels. Perform 5 sets of 5 reps each, resting for 90 seconds between each set. 


3. Overhead press: Start with feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell held across your upper chest. Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, tense your abs, glutes, and quads, and lift the dumbbell straight upwards. 


Hold it above your head slightly, then slowly lower back to starting position. Perform 4 sets of 6 reps, resting for 60 seconds between each set. 


4. Biceps curl: Stand straight with feet slightly apart and a pair of dumbbells in each hand. Turn your palms to faceforward and keep your hands in line with your hips. Tuck in your elbows, and slowly curl the dumbbells up towards your chest until your forearms are almost vertical, then lower them back to starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps, resting for 90 seconds between each set. 


The above gym exercises will work out your chest, quads, shoulders and triceps, while also giving your back, hamstring, and biceps a good workout. In targeting all these muscle groups, you'll be able to build strength all over your body and reap the benefits in everyday movements. 


It’s vital that you follow the sets, reps, and rest times given, and perform the workout once a week for at least a month to start seeing results. You can slowly increase the amount you lift as you go, but again, make sure to not go beyond your capacity for risk of injury. 


Final thoughts


The exercises outlined above are a great start for anyone looking to hit the gym to achieve their fitness goals. But be wary not to fall prey to one of the biggest mistakes people make when they first start attending the gym. That’s because, going too hard can result in muscle straining. This is why it is important that your gym routine is always kept simple and performed only 3-4 times a week, with rest days in between. 


These rest days are essential to give your muscles a break between workouts and allow your body to repair tissues and rebuild fluids. Yes, it can seem counterintuitive to take days off when you’re trying to bulk up or increase fitness, but foregoing rest days can actually delay your progress in the long run. If you’re hell-bent on attending the gym on a daily basis, then use those rest days for gentle stretching or attending a yoga class instead.


For now, start performing these gym routines and see what a difference they make in your overall fitness. Whether your goals are strength, core, or hearth health, give these gym workouts a try and leave us a comment to let us know how you go. 

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Written by

Anthony Stehbens

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