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Timing Your Workouts


Last Fitness Friday I shared with you 3 Questions to Build A Workout PlanTwo of the questions in that post discussed time.  The first question was around how much time you need to work out and the second was what time of the day to workout.  This post will help you with the first question and help you identify how to time your workout.

When I say, “timing a workout”, what I’m really saying is how much time do you take to rest in between sets and exercises?  You may think this is no big deal, but I assure you it’s important.  It has a huge impact on what you get out of your workout.  Here are a few guidelines and what I do when it comes to “timing my workouts.”

Building Big Muscles

If you want to build really big muscles, then you have to lift heavy, heavy weights.  Sure, there are professionals that will argue this (and I’ll be honest, I’m not a professional), but generally speaking, for the majority of people, you need to lift heavier weights to build bigger muscles.  You will want to pick a weight you can do with a max of 4-6 reps.  The challenging part is that when you’re lifting these heavier weights, your muscles are going to fatigue faster.  You will find that you can’t just jump into another set, with that heavy weight, 30 seconds after your last one.  You need more time to recuperate.

What I do:  Though I don’t really want to build really big muscles, there are times where I want to add on a little muscle mass.  When I want to do this, I will lift heavier weights and take about 90-120 seconds in between sets.  This gives me enough time to catch my breath, let the muscles recuperate, and back at it.  I have seen others take 3-5 minutes in between sets, and that is fine, but I feel like that makes you bulkier and less toned.  If that’s what you’re going for, great.  If not, 90-120 seconds is all you need.  Once I complete all sets of an exercise, I rest for about 3 minutes before I start the next exercise.

Building Ripped Muscles

This is where you want to build muscles that have a little size to them, but you also look a bit ripped.  Now, there’s more to getting ripped than just lifting weights.  Diet is a factor here.  Actually diet is a factor when building really big muscles too.  Well, actually diet is always a factor, but I digress.

This approach to building muscles is all about having medium-sized weights.  In other words, a weight that allows you to perform 10-12 reps max.  This is enough weight to build some muscle, but not too much that it makes you bulky.  This weight combined with the number of reps will allow you to build those ripped muscles.

What I do:  I like to perform these reps a little faster than I perform the heavier weighted reps.  It makes me feel like I’m stressing the muscle but moving fast enough to burn some fat too.  When I’m lifting to build ripped muscles, I generally take 60-90 seconds in between reps.  Once I complete all sets of an exercise, I rest about 2  and a half minutes before starting the next exercise.

Fat Burning Exercise

This is the type of exercise where you just want to burn as much fat as possible.  In order to do this, you need to keep your heart rate elevated and get breathing heavy.  With this type of exercise, you would generally do more cardio-based exercises like running, sprinting, or some sort of HIIT (high intensity interval training).  You could even do circuit-based training to burn fat.

What I do:  When I’m trying to burn fat, I pick a very light weight where I can perform 10-20 reps.  I say 10-20 reps because I like to do circuits when burning fat.  If I have 5 or more exercises in my circuit, I will do 10 reps of a light weight.  If I have less than 5 exercises in my circuit, I will do 15-20 reps each exercise.  I take a 30-60 seconds break in between each set.  Once I complete all the sets of a circuit, I rest for about 2 minutes before starting another circuit.

The Takeaway

Timing your workouts is necessary and is based upon what type of workout you’re performing.  The amount of time in between sets and in between exercises needs to be adjusted based upon your exercise goals.  I’ve covered 3 main goals most people typically shoot for when exercising.  All of these types of exercise can move you towards a healthier you, but how long it takes to get you there can be greatly affected by timing your sets.

I’m sure some professional out there will disagree with some things I have shared, and may even produce some statistics that go against what I’ve said.  My point here is to share what works for me and what has helped me become healthier, stronger, and more muscular.  There are many ways to reach your health goals.  These are just the ways that work for me.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a professional exercise coach nor am I a doctor.  I share my experience with you to show you what I do and what seems to work for me…the everyday, average Joe with a muscular physique.  Before you do any type of exercise, it’s always a good idea to speak with your health care physician.

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