It’s often said that 99% of success in the weight room is just showing up because if you don’t, nothing will happen. The other 1% of success is, what am I doing today?

When you’re dragging yourself to the gym tired, hungry, stressed or all three, there’s only so much brain power left to make exercise decisions. Your internal dialogue might go along the lines of …

You- “What am I doing today?”

Your brain- “You didn’t get much sleep last night and you’ve been feeding me crap. I’m really low on energy.”

You– “I haven’t done legs in a while. The squat rack is calling my name.”

Your brain– “The squat rack, are you kidding me? Why don’t you walk on the treadmill for a while and then do some curls in the squat rack?”

You– “Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it.”

curls 2

How far off am I? 😊

After spending the better part of 9 years in the weight room as a personal trainer, I often see people struggle with not having a plan of attack. And when I’m left to my own devices, I battle the same demons.

What am I doing today? Anything but legs, training legs suck. Bench press, here I come.

Having a plan before you enter the gym is advisable (if you need help contact me here) but if you don’t, after reading this, hopefully you and your brain will be on the same page.

Use the trainings below when you’re stuck for ideas or they can be teased out for a week (or longer) or you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

What are you doing today? I just answered it for you.

1. Cardio

10/10/10 minutes

Spend 10 min on the bike

10 min on the treadmill (use the incline function for intensity) and keep the speed around 3-3.5 mph

10 min on the rowing machine.

Any cardio machine will do. Just choose three different modes. Always work at a pace where you’re able to breathe without too much difficultly.

3-minute Aerobic intervals (any mode you like)

Warm up for 4 minutes at an easy pace.

Perform a 3-minute aerobic interval working at a pace where you’re slightly out of breath.

Follow this with active recovery for 3 minutes of low intensity. Repeat the above sequence 3 times and then cool down for 3 minutes. Try to add one interval every two weeks.

High intensity interval training (any mode you like)

Warm up at an easy pace for 3-5 minutes and then choose your work/rest interval.

Note- shorter the work interval the faster you go, the longer it is, go slower)

  1. 10 seconds/20 seconds
  2. 20 seconds/40 seconds
  3. 30 seconds/60 seconds
  4. 45 seconds/90 seconds

Start with 4 intervals and gradually work up to 8 work rest intervals.  Do this type of training no more than 2 days per week.

Click this for Cardio 1 trainings

2. Strength training


After your warm up, you’ll start will the strength exercise and you’ll choose a weight that leaves a rep or two in reserve. If you need more rest between sets, please take it. With the supersets exercises please use a weight that allows you to complete all the repetitions with good form.

If you went heavy with the squat, do a hinge exercise for 2A. and vice versa.

This training is a combination of straight sets for strength work and then supersets for hypertrophy. You’ll alternate between training A and training B.

How many sets you do of each superset will be depended on how much time you have.

Please rest for 48 hours between trainings.

Training A

1. Strength exercise (Squat or hinge) 3-5 sets 3-6 reps and 90-120 sec rest between sets.

2A.  Squat or hinge 8-12 reps

2B.  Pull variation 10-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

3A. Squat variation 12 reps

3B.  Press variation 8-12 reps

3-5 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

4A. Pull variation (different from 2B) 8-12 reps

4B. Push variation (different from 3B) 8- 12 reps

2-3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

This superset is optional depended on time.  Choose a body parts that need extra work.

5A.  Isolation exercise (bicep curl, triceps, shoulders, legs, hips etc.) 8-15 reps

5B.  Isolation exercise 8-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60 seconds rest between each superset.

Training B

1. Strength exercise (Push or a pull) 3-5 sets 3-6 reps and 90-120 sec rest between sets.

2A. Squat variation 6-8 reps

2B.  Pull variation 6-8 reps

2-3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

3A. Hinge variation 12-15 reps

3B. Push variation 6-8 reps

3-5 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

4A. Farmers carry variation 40 yards

4B. Pull or push variation (different from 2 and 3) 12-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

This superset is optional, depending on time. Choose body parts that need extra work.

5A.  Isolation exercise (bicep curl, triceps, shoulders, legs, hips) 8-15 reps

5B.  Isolation exercise 8-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60 seconds rest between each superset.

Click this for Strength training trainings

3. Fat loss

A. Timed sets


Complete each training as a circuit, resting as little as possible between exercises. Rest 30- 60 seconds at the end of each circuit and do as many rounds as possible in eight minutes.

Select a weight that allows you to complete all repetitions with good form. If you’re stacking trainings, rest 90-120 seconds between rounds and choose no more than three in the one session.

Eight-minute legs

1AGoblet Side Lunge– 8 reps on each leg

1BGoblet squats- 8 reps

1CSingle leg hip extensions – 8 reps on each leg

Note- Use either a dumbbell or a kettlebell.

Eight-minute arms

1A. Overhead triceps extensions– 8 reps

1B. Concentration curls – 8 reps on each arm

1C. Triceps pushdowns– 8 reps

Note-You will need access to a cable machine and dumbbells. Keep them both close.

Eight-minute shoulders

1A. Band pull apart- 8 reps

1B. Band shoulder press- 8 reps on each arm

1CBand In/Outs- 8 reps on each arm (four front raises/four lateral raises)

Eight-minute chest

1A. Dumbbell chest flies– 8 reps

1B. Single arm chest press– 8 reps on each arm

1C. Incline pushups– 8 reps

Eight-minute back

1ADumbbell pullover– 8 reps

1BBent over reverse flies– 8 reps

1CSingle arm row– 8 reps on each arm

Eight-minute core

1A. Front plank with shoulder tap– 8 reps on each side

1B. Side plank with hip dip– 8 reps on each side

1C. Reverse crunches – 8 reps

B. Density training


This type of training is best done two-three days per week with 48 hours rest in between trainings. All the exercises are done for time. The work rest periods are as follows:

Beginner (you’re just starting out) 20 sec work/40 sec rest.

Intermediate (you’ve been exercising for 6 months) 30 sec work/30 sec rest.

Advanced (you’ve been getting after it for a year or more) 40 sec work/20 sec rest.

It’s a five-exercise circuit (one after the other) using the movements below.

Note-These are examples only, you can choose any variation you want

  1. Squat variation – BW squatGobletSumo or Barbell squat
  2. Push variation– Incline push upPush up or Dumbbell bench press.
  3. Single leg exercise– Reverse lungeForward lunge or Side lunge (Alternating sides).
  4. Pull variation– Rack pullDumbbell bent over rowor Standing cable row.
  5. Core– Alternating side plankMountain climbersor Front plank.

You’ll complete two-four circuits (depending on how much you have in the tank on training day) for a total training time of between 10-20 minutes.

Training tips

*  Have all the equipment near you so you don’t need to move much and to save time between exercises.

* Keep track of your reps and weight to measure improvement.

*  Do as many reps as possible within your time frame with correct technique.

Choose a weight which allows you to complete all your reps with good form.

* Choose different variations to keep things fresh.

Click this for all Fat loss trainings above.

4. Power

 A. Upper body power

The exercises below are best done on upper body days, so you can crush your pushes and pulls.  However, you can perform these at any time, because who am I to tell you what to do?

B. Lower/ total body power

There is a multitude of exercises to choose from here, but for the sake of simplicity, the exercises below are relatively safe, easy to perform and a good introduction to total body power.

However, if you have any knee/lower body issues, please let pain be your guide and put safety first.

These exercises are suitable to perform before your lower/upper or total body weight workout.

Further recommendations

For all the power exercises above, I suggest resting 1 minute between each set. However, if you need more rest, take it.

Furthermore, pairing these exercises into superset before moving on to the main part of your training is a great way to insert power into your routine. For example

1A. Med ball slam 8-12 reps

1B.  Squat jump 5 reps

Rest 1-2 minutes and repeat 1- 2 times.

Click this for- Power workouts

Finishing up

Not having a plan before you enter the gym is asking for trouble for you and your waistline. Save your brain power for more important decisions like what you’re going to eat after you’re done.




  1. Sarah C Aberg

    thanks, that’s really encouraging!

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