Exercise Routines, Why You Need One

If you watch a lot of people in the gym, they drift from one exercise to another with no real plan or structure to their workouts. They might have a vague outline for their session – maybe it’s chest day or leg day, but apart from that, they “wing it” and make up their workout as they go along.

Many pass this off as “instinctive” training which, as training methods go, can be useful but is best used as an occasional break from more structured training. It’s not, however, a good long-term basis for your workouts.

Of course, some people thrive on random exercise selection and unstructured workouts, but they are few and far between.

Most exercisers would get much better results if they follow a routine.

1. Consistency 

To gain muscle, get stronger, or lose fat, your efforts need to be consistent. That doesn’t just mean training regularly, it also means using the same exercises for several weeks or even months at a time. To adapt to your workout, your body needs to do the same things several times in a row.

If you keep changing your exercises, your body will never get the opportunity it needs to get better at your chosen exercises. This is especially true for building strength as technical mastery is essential if you are going to lift the heaviest weights possible.

2. Progression  

Progression is a key factor in building muscle and getting stronger. Progression comes in many forms but usually involves gradually increasing your weights or doing more reps. If you keep changing your exercises or workouts, it will be much harder to logically progress your workouts.

With less structured progression, you won’t get such good results from your training. Doing the same exercises for several workouts in a row will allow you to gradually increase exercise intensity and/or volume.


3. Doing What You Need, Not Just What You Want

If you always base your workouts on what you feel like doing on that particular day, invariably you’ll do the stuff you like, and skip the stuff you don’t. Unfortunately, it’s the stuff you don’t like doing you probably need to do more of!

If you don’t follow a structured routine, you’ll probably skip leg day in favour of another chest or arm workout, and you may focus too much on your mirror muscles and not pay enough attention to your posterior chain and back.

Having a balanced, well-designed plan increases the likelihood you’ll work your entire body during the course of your training week, and not just the muscles you enjoy training.


4. Measuring Your Progress

Even if you train right, follow a good program, and eat according to your goals, your progress may still be very slow. This is especially true if you have been training for a long time and are approaching your genetic potential for muscle size and strength.

Following a workout plan means you’ll be able to see and measure your progress, even if that progress is very small. For example, and extra 2.5kg on the bar or an extra rep signifies improvement. However, if you aren’t following a program and are just making up your 3workouts as you go along, these small improvements will probably go unnoticed.


5. More Discipline Means Better Results

When you have a plan, you’ll go into the gym knowing not only what exercises you are supposed to do, but what weights you are going to use and how many repetitions you need to complete. Even if you aren’t feeling 100%, if you have a plan, you are much more likely to do what needs to be done. Your workouts will be much more focused and disciplined.

In contrast, if you have no plan, and choose your exercises, sets, reps and weights based on how you feel, you may end up taking it easy on yourself. That’s okay from time to time but do it often enough your progress will soon slow to a crawl. After all, to be effective, your workouts need to be challenging. Having a plan is like having a job – you might not like it or feel like doing it, but you’ll probably turn up and do it anyway.

If you’ve been following a structured training plan for a few months, a week or two of instinctive training could give you the mental and physical break you need to restore your energy and enthusiasm for training. However, if you have been winging it for the last few months, it’s time to knuckle down, get a plan, and do some structured training.