A Week in the Life: My Routine

I have a standard weekly workout routine that I stick to pretty well. Okay, I’m not perfect at it, and if I don’t complete “Plan A,” I have a “Plan B” I can switch to.

I typically workout five days a week (sometimes six) Monday through Friday, breaking up my weight training schedule this way:

  • Monday: Chest, abs/core, cardio.
  • Tuesday: Back, abs/core, cardio.
  • Wednesday: Legs, abs/core, cardio.
  • Thursday: Delts/Traps, abs/core, cardio.
  • Friday: Triceps/Biceps, abs/core, cardio.

I don’t recommend starting your weight training with this routine. I’ll talk about getting started in later blog posts, but I wanted to take the next week to show you where I am now.

The most common thing that goes wrong with this schedule is I miss a cardio, usually because I’ve spent too much time in the resistance part of my workout. If that’s the case, I’ll pick it up on Saturday morning. The same is true if, for whatever reason, I miss a day at the gym. If I skip Monday for example, I shift everything over one day, starting out with Tuesday as chest day and ending working Tris and Bis on Saturday.

I’ve got only a narrow window of time in my schedule each morning to workout. My gym opens up at 5 a.m. and that leaves me only an hour at most to get everything in. I have to leave by 6 a.m. to get home, shower, suck down a protein shake, and get out the door for work.

I suppose I could work out in the evenings after work, but I’m a morning person. It’s when I’m most motivated to workout. If I waited until after work, I’d find more excuses to not go to the gym and that would be the beginning of the end.

I wake up no later than 4 a.m. Actually, I’m usually up before then since I don’t always sleep well. That’s kind of a bad thing since getting at least adequate sleep promotes stamina, strength, muscle gains, and weight (fat) loss. Even when I’m really tired, after the first set on the dumbbells, I’m wide awake, but I can tell my performance isn’t as good as when I’ve had enough sleep.

Anyway, between four and five, I have one cup of coffee and one glass of water. A nutritionist once told me that I should always drink coffee with an equal amount of water since coffee is a diuretic.

I’ve heard arguments about this both ways, but I don’t eat, not even a protein shake, before hitting the gym. An hour between waking up and starting to lift wouldn’t give even a small meal much time to digest and I don’t want to fight indigestion along with the weights. The carbs I ingested the day before are adequate to see me through a fasting morning workout.

My workout hour is divided into two parts, the resistance work which includes the core/ab work, and cardio.

Core work is some form of exercise that hits the abs and my lower back. I don’t always do back work because, for example, on leg day, I hit my lower back pretty hard and it’s usually sore the next day. I decide whether to work my back each day depending on how I feel.

I try to work my abs every time I’m at the gym. Ab work is some sort of sit-up, leg lifts, or ab machine depending on what I feel like. I’ll go into the details of each specific exercise I do in later blog posts.

My cardio work is almost always on an Elliptical machine. I like how it works both the lower and upper body and I’m able to adjust intensity both by speed and setting resistance levels. During the week, I have only about 25 minutes on the Elliptical each morning including the cooldown, but on Saturday, I can extend the time from anywhere between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on how I feel.

My doctor said that he recommends doing at least two hours of cardio over a week. On a perfect week, Monday through Friday, I can do 125 minutes (25 minutes x 5 days), which satisfies his minimum requirement, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little extra in on the weekend.

elliptical machinesAgain, this is what I do right now. I’m not suggesting you start out like this. The workout I’m describing is what I’ve built up to over time. For some of you, what I do may sound intimidating, and for more advanced people reading this, what I do may sound rather lightweight. Regardless of your performance level, the only person you are at the gym to impress is you.

It’s important to do your research, get a medical check up to understand your current physical condition including any limitations, and then listen to yourself and your body. The final expert in working out and gaining improved health is always you.

After the gym, I drive home and toss down a protein shake. There’s a narrow window of time after you tear down your muscles when you have a maximum ability to take in protein to build them back up. You’ll also need to replace the carbs you used as well. I’ll go into the details of diet including supplements in later blog posts.

Routine is important because a lot of the discipline of hitting the gym regularly is habit. When I started going to this gym most recently (about two years ago), it was at my son’s suggestion and he was my regular partner. I didn’t always feel like going to the gym but I didn’t want to let him down. He’s doing a different sort of routine at home now, so I go to the gym alone these days, but it’s become such a habit that I can’t imagine not going to the gym and I miss working out when circumstances occasionally prevent it.

For today blog post, I just wanted to give you a thumbnail sketch of what a typical week at the gym is like for me. On Monday’s blog, I’ll start out with the details of my usual “chest day”. See you then.

If you can dream it, you can do it.

Walt Disney


2 thoughts on “A Week in the Life: My Routine

  1. For those that see your routine as more heavy than light, I would advise allowing a day of recovery in between repeating any set of muscles worked, no matter how few reps you do. Building to this level of core and cardio workouts takes time. Also, when beginning, don’t push past the initial ouch factor…give yourself a little time to build a routine as well as building strength.

    Your routine is impressive, James, and your organization of your day makes me wonder if you ever really take a deep breath, and relax. 🙂


    1. Hi Questor and thanks.

      It took me two years to work up to this routine and I don’t recommend anyone starting out like this. If I were just beginning weight training at a gym, I’d probably do three days a week with each day being a full body workout on weight machines, plus ab work and cardio. This week, I’m going to showcase my weekly routine in detail. I’ll post articles about how to get started later on.

      I tend to relax in the evenings. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


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