What your gym programme’s missing... a 5 point checklist to pimp your workout - Diligent Fitness

What your gym programme’s missing… a 5 point checklist to pimp your workout

14th October 2014 by Kieran Igwe Exercise 0 comments

It’s easy to get in the habit of doing the same old gym routine. Perhaps like me, you were shown some exercises back in the 90’s by a crazy muay thai instructor and you just kept doing them.

You too thought that 1000 sit ups a day was the best way to flat abs. But a few years and a stiff back later it’s clear there might be a better way.

In this post I want to give you an updated version on the best way to train to lose bodyfat, tone up and most importantly keep your body healthy.

These guidelines are based on how our lifestyles are now; sedentary, stressful and so over committed that we’re always tight for time.

1. Warm up – to improve your posture and reduce the risk of injury

We spend loads of time sitting, with some Brits spending as much as 14 hours a day parked firmly on their behind.

Even if this isn’t you, chances are you’ve sat in the car on the way to the gym. So the warm up needs to get you out of sitting mode and into ‘beast mode’ ready for your workout. A few tips for your warm up:

  • – Use a foam roller to undo the knots in the muscles
  • – Run through some mobility exercises to get your joints moving feely
  • – Do a couple of low level activation exercises to wake up the muscles that become weak from sitting

2. Train your core – for flatter abs and less back pain

Sure we want flat, toned abs. But good core training also needs to build the muscles round your midsection to protect your spine.

Now, you probably won’t care about this now. It’s not until you’ve been hit by a episode of debilitating back pain that it becomes important. So for now,it’s ok to do core exercises for the aesthetic effects and know that we’ve snuck in some protective benefits too.

  • – Plank variations for the front
  • – Chopping exercises for the sides
  • – Focus on keeping your midsection as still a possible

3. Lift weights for strong, toned muscles

It’s pretty widely accepted that lifting weights is good for you, both physically and mentally. We do it to boost your metabolism along with strengthening and toning your muscles. A couple of pointers for lifting:

  • – Free weights are best, machines are better than nothing
  • – Pick whole body moves over one muscle at a time exercises
  • – Group exercises together in a circuit for time efficiency. We’d group together something like one lower body exercise, one pushing exercise and one pulling exercise

4. Complete a finisher – to burn calories and reduce body fat

This is where my old boxing instructor would make us run for what seemed like hours. And this was just the warm up! Fortunately we know better now. And while running at a steady pace is OK, if you don’t have all the time in the world your time might be better spent on intervals; a few bursts of hard effort interspirsed with periods of recovey.

You can do a finisher on the bike, treadmill or cross trainer. But we prefer to use more interesting tools like a sled push, battling ropes, boxing or med ball slams:

  • – Work hard for 30-40 secs.
  • – Rest for 60 secs rest.
  • – Repeat up to 5 times

5. Cool down –to prevent damaging your reputation by passing out (Yep, been there)

This generally consists of lying on the floor reflecting on all your hard work and feeling smug. Oh, and while you’re there we may as well throw in a couple of stretches to look like we’re being productive.

The stretching also helps prevent well meaning people coming over and attempting to resuscitate you.

*Extra credit: knock back a recovery shake

This isn’t essential, but if you’re the sort of person who wants to get the most out of each workout then taking a protein shake right after your workout kick starts the muscular repair process. This isn’t to make the muscles grow in size. It’s to give them the building blocks they need to recover so they’re stronger for next time.


If you already exercise you likely already do some version of the above. Maybe your warm up is walking from the car to the gym door. Maybe your strength training is a couple of goes on a machine. And maybe your core training looks like a few token sit ups before you head off home.

If you wanted to step it up to the next level then maybe pick one thing from the checklist below and add it to your routine:

  • For your warm up: instead of running on the treadmill: try rolling your muscles out on a foam roller. And add some simple mobility and activations exercises
  • For your core training: instead of a few token sit ups at try a plank for the front and cable chops for the sides.
  • For lifting weights, rather than jumping on the weight machines, try doing some free weight exercises like split squats, bench presses and rows to strengthen and tone your muscles
  • For your ‘cardio’ instead of running for 10 minutes on the treadmill, try some intervals of hard work followed by rest to burn some calories and reduce bodyfat
  • And at the end of your workout, instead of rushing out try the cooldown stretches to relax your muscles, reflect and feel smug
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