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How to Find the Perfect Workout Routine for Your Goals

Is your current exercise regime actually the right style for goals? Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle mass, or just want to stay healthy - any of these goals requires a proper planning and understanding of exercise works.

Nowadays due to social media there are so many misconceptions about what different types of exercise do for you. Just because you see a Tiktoker post their workout and claim it gave them certain results, doesn’t mean it’s always true.

When it comes down to exercising for your unique goals, it can be a little challenging and even overwhelming. I’ll explain what different types of exercise are, give you the science behind them, which to pick for your goals, and examples on frequency/ how to plan out a week of your training. This post will help clarify how certain forms of exercise affect the body.

Types of Exercise:

Cardiovascular Training (aka Cardio) :

Cardio is defined as any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for a prolonged period of time. The intensity can range form low to high depending on the type of exercise performed. Cardio is known as aerobic exercise because it lowers your resting pulse and strengthens you heart muscle. The Department of Health and Human services recommends to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.

Resistance Training

Resistance training involves using resistance (such as weights, bands, gravity) to train your muscles to break down and with proper recovery, rebuild stronger than before. Resistance training is important for bone, muscle, and cardiovascular health.

You can do your resistance training exercises using equipment or just using your bodyweight, though you can build muscle mass and strength more efficiently by doing workouts with equipment. The Department of Health and Human services recommends to do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week (or the equivalent to).

HIIT Training

High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT is a type of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between intense anaerobic exercise and short recovery periods. HIIT can also help you lower blood pressure and blood sugar, while improving oxygen and blood flow. HIIT may also benefit brain health by improving mental health and memory.

HIIT is popular because it can be done in shorter intervals than steady state cardio (ex: running, cycling). If it's not realistic for you to be spending an hour in the gym everyday, a 30 minute HIIT workout may be a friend to you. A full body HIIT workout is commonly done in 20,30,40 minutes. You also don’t want to do this form of exercise more than 2-3 times a week. Allow your body sufficient time between workouts to rest and recover.


Yoga is a training regimen for the mind, body, and soul. In the fitness world, it is commonly associated with stretching, which is only one component of the practice. Yoga exercises are recommended if you are wanting to boost both mental and physical health. A regular yoga practice has been shown to enhance your emotional wellness, mental clarity, and overall sense of health. Yoga also encourages you to activate and strengthen the inner environment of your mind and soul which encourages a deeper spiritual connection. A typical yoga class can last between 60 minutes to 90 minutes and is considered a complete workout. I offer free yoga classes here if you are interested in exploring this option.

Best type of workouts for your specific fitness goal.

Gain Muscle / “Get toned”

I commonly hear the goal of “getting toned” which translates to a person wants to see muscle definition and less Boyd fat covering that definition. As explained before, muscles need resistance to grow and build stronger than they were before - so surprise, resistance training will be your best friend with this goal! Resistance training allow you to build muscle and increase your strength at every stage of your life, which is important because we lose muscle as we age (starting around 30 years old!).

In a proper resistance training program, on a weekly basis, you’ll want to be targeting all of the body’s major muscle groups. Think about it - if you want a strong lower body, having a strong upper body and core will allow you to lift proper weight, improve your form and control, as well as give your body the rounded strength that it needs for daily functional activity (aka carrying in all the groceries in one trip).

A resistance training program can be spilt up into a number of variations, depending on what is realistic and works best with you schedule and availability. Full body sessions (sessions aim to hit all major muscle groups in one session) are common and useful for those who have less availability to get to the gym during the week. Splitting up your workouts into grouped sessions such as lower body and upper body is also another common way to arrange your resistance training. These spilts are more effective if you train 4-5 times a week each week.

HIIT can also be an option for weight lifters who want to increase their endurance. Adding in 1 or 2 short HIIT sessions a week means that lifters can lift heavier weights for longer periods of time between rest and recovery. Which results in increased muscle mass and strength.

Losing Weight / Becoming Leaner

I just want to preface this section by saying there are numerous factors that contribute to weight loss including your daily activity level, nutrition intake, and even hormones.

Cardio can be a factor for weight loss, but not as big as most people think. Growing up I always associated running, sweating, and high intensity with fat loss, but that’s not all so true (you can lose weight without even doing cardio!). Excessive cardio raises cortisol, too much can impede recovery, and it doesn’t build muscle (which takes up more space in the body than fat and increases your metabolism). You can add in any type of cardio you enjoy, but I do want to get across that it isn’t the cure all for weight loss!

HIIT is a popular choice for weight loss focussed routes. The biggest reason is because it is an anaerobic form of exercise. It burns more calories than steady state cardio both during and after exercising. This phenomenon is called the afterburn effect, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. It basically means that your body continues to burn calories hours after your high-intensity workout is over. It is intense on your body and shouldn’t be done everyday.

It might seem like skipping weight training when you’re trying to lose weight makes sense, but it’s actually such an important component. Resistance training is crucial for promoting muscle growth to help increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR is how many calories your body burns at rest (literally just by being alive). A 6-month study published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, doing just 11 minutes of strength-based weight training exercises 3 times per week resulted in an average of a 7.4% increase in RMR among participants. That increase is equivalent to burning an extra 125 calories per day, which makes a huge difference when trying to lose weight. Resistance training is also recommended for a goal of losing weight as when adding it into your training plan it can create spike in your body’s metabolism since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.

Yoga can be an option here as well. Vinyasa classes or power yoga classes will get your heart rate up just by increasing the pace of your yoga flows. Finding an activity to keep you active during the week is always a great option.


Flexibility is extremely important because it gives the muscles the ability to move through a full range of motion. When the body is unable to move through its full range of motion, injury is more likely to occur. Anybody who trains should be actively working on mobility and flexibly to decrease their chances of being injured, reduce pain and aches, as well as have ability to perform movements with better form. Lack of flexibility causes the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way.

Stretching, Yoga, Pilates, and Barre are all forms of flexibility training to help your body and joints stay happy and healthy. Having a dynamic and static stretch routine before and after any exercise session is highly recommended. Weekly yoga sessions can aid in improved flexibility and mobility, but yoga has many other recovery benefits as well. I recommend my clients to do yoga at least once a week, but you could do it more frequently if that is a goal of yours.

Two Examples Programs:

These are two examples of two workout routines that I would give one client with a weight loss goal and the other with a strength based goal. Disclaimer: Many things can affect why including their arability, likes and dislikes, diet, and other goals.

Workouts can (and should) have combinations of the above categories. It’s all about finding the right combination that works best for you. Take into account what your goals, limitations, injuries, and availability are before trying a new routine.

A trainer can properly put you on a program that is customized to your unique goals, activity level, and include the right amount of recovery for your spilt. The thing I see the most when working with clients, is that they take on too much, but sometimes less is more. If you don’t know what to keep in and what to take out of your routine, you can apply here for a totally free 30 minute chat with me about your goals.

I will email you back with a breakdown on what I believe would work for you based on your responses to my form! So if you’re not sure what you should be doing - reach out and see how I can hep you create something fun, sustainable, and exactly what you have been looking for!

Overall, any exercise is better than none. Listen to your heart and body about what type of exercise speaks out to you - if you enjoy running, keep doing it! I hope this article helps clarify how each workout can be beneficial to you. Reach out to me on Instagram with any questions or comments: @HappyHippieFitness_

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