Home Training Workout Plans Basics of Workout: What is a Workout?

Basics of Workout: What is a Workout?

Fitness workouts
What is a Workout

So finally you have joined a gym and shown up on the day one. Now what? You see people jumping around and on machines trying to be the next Salman Khan or Katrina Kaif (which is by the way not bad). One of the in-house trainers takes you around while proudly talking about his fitness secrets.  Let’s understand the commercials of Gyms in India, most of the in-house trainers thrive on their so called personal training sessions. The Gym as such will provide you a max of week or two of personal guidance after which you will be left alone to figure it out. Most of the new fitness enthusiasts fell in the traps laid by the fitness trainers, they will give you free advices and tips for the first  couple of weeks and once you get used to them you will unknowingly become their paid student. Please avoid these traps of personal training nonsense unless you have lot of money to burn or the personal trainer is really worth paying for. In India most of the personal trainers we have seen are the people who qualify for that role just because of some xyz certification which only provides them the theoretical knowledge (which they hardly remember); most of the trainers are the big guys with no idea about proper nutrition. If you follow our website diligently, we assure you that you will gain better knowledge than those so called fitness trainers of the Indian Gyms.

So coming back to the term ‘Workout’, according to the dictionary it means a session of vigorous physical exercise. So what kind of physical exercises you should opt for? A gym offers all kinds of fitness routines, including cardio machines, Aerobics program, Kickboxing, Yoga sessions and all kind of weight training equipment and machines. For now we will focus on resistance training or strength training or weight training as the main activity to focus on in the gym. A good strength-exercise routine will get you the most returns on your hard earned money invested in the Gym membership.

One workout is a session of exercises executed by you in the Gym on a single day. Each of these single workout sessions will form your strength training program which will last several weeks to several months. The design of each single workout is as important as the overall program as it provides you the physical transformation you always desired. Every workout is composed of five variables that you can manipulate to alter your workout: Choice of exercises, Order of exercises, Number of sets, Resistance and Rest taken between sets.

Choice of exercises

Choosing proper exercises for each workout is the first step in creating an effective strength training program. The exercises can be divided into primary exercise and assistance exercise. Primary exercises are also called the multi-joint movement exercises because several large muscle groups are involved in performing these exercises.  Some examples of primary exercises are Squat, Bench Press, Pull-up, Military Press, and Deadlift.  Assistance exercises are also called the Single-joint movement exercises or the Isolation exercises; they involve the movement of a single muscle group and are performed with much lighter weight than primary exercises. Some examples of assistance exercises are biceps curl, lateral raise, triceps extension, leg extension. While most major muscle groups have both primary and isolation exercises, biceps, forearms, hamstrings, calves and abdominals are muscle groups that are usually trained with just isolation exercises. A good workout should be a combination of primary and isolation exercises and the primary exercises should be always performed before the isolation exercises as it takes more energy and strength to execute a primary exercise.

Order of exercises

In training for strength or for building muscle size primary exercises should be performed before the assistance or isolation exercises. Performing isolation exercise first will compromise the amount of weight you can lift during the primary exercise as it requires more strength. Order of exercises should be carefully chosen as it determines the effectiveness of your workout. Example: large sized muscle group such as legs and backs should be trained before smaller group such as shoulder and biceps.

Number of sets

A set is grouping of repetitions that are followed by rest intervals. When designing a workout, you should consider the number of sets performed per exercise, the number of set per muscle group and the total number of sets for the workout. For weight training purposes you can involve three to six sets per exercise. The number of sets per muscle group can range from 3 to 24 and the total number of sets for the workout may range from 10 to 40. These numbers can vary based on the resistance used and your fitness level. Too many sets can lead to overtraining which should be avoided.


Resistance is the amount of weight used in a particular set.  A heavy weight will lead to fewer repetitions and a lighter weight will lead to higher repetitions.  You can implement both heavy and light resistance in your workout program:  You may do one set of an exercise with a very heavy weight of 5 to 7 reps followed by another set  of light weight for 15 to 20 reps.  If you want to increase your strength lift heavy for 3 to 4 reps, if you want muscle growth take a weight which you can do for 10 to 11 reps, if you want muscle endurance and muscle definition take a weight with which you can perform 19-20 reps.

Rest between sets

The rest between sets depends on the resistance weight being used and your personal fitness goals. If you are training for maximum strength and lifting heavy weight, take a rest of 3-5 minutes. If you are working for muscle growth and performing 8-10reps, you should take a rest of 2-3 minutes, for 11-13 reps you should take a rest of 1-2 minutes. If your repetitions are more (greater than 13), it means you are lifting much lighter weight and so you should take 1 minute of rest between your sets.

Do keep the above points in mind while designing your workouts.  Along with the weight training also include the warm-up exercises, stretches and cardio to take your fitness to altogether a different level.