Anyone can attend a group class, buy a DVD, or join a Crossfit box to find guidance in exercise. Any personal trainer you hire, could put you through a session that makes you sweat, and sometimes if they are really talented, laugh and have fun! All of the above can be fun, sweaty, challenging exercise that will do some good. I am afraid though, that it may only be sub-optimal.
With time, I have made some observations about exercise. A missing approach to many peoples program is the lack of proper movement and exercising with a purpose. It seems simple enough, but it is harder then you would imagine. It takes education, discipline, and willpower.
The majority of people have the discipline and willpower to exercise, but lack the fundamentals of movement and become bored. All of the hard work and sweat going into getting fit from working out, may be doing more harm than good. Everyone has different goals, but all goals are universal in that a purposeful approach is needed. Now I am going to show a diagram comparing sub-optimal vs. optimal training. This will save you from TL;DR http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/TL;DR
Monday- back, run (1 hour) Monday- whole body (40 minutes)
Tuesday- Chest (1 hour) Tuesday- mindful movement, rest
Wednesday- Legs (1 hour) Wednesday- whole body (40 minutes)
Thursday- arms, run (1 hour) Thursday- Mindful movement, rest
Friday- chest, back, arms (1 hours) Friday- whole body (40 minutes)
It is probably best to go into a workout with a purpose of aggressively executing what you are trying to accomplish and take more rest afterwards. When you beat yourself up (exercise) your body is forced to adapt (get fit).
If you are not optimally beating yourself up, you sacrifice one of two things. The first, the body is not responding to the stimulus that is it being given or second, if it is, it never has time to adapt optimally.
The suboptimal routine is not only bad for a responsibility free bachelor like myself, but pretty much devastating for the working parent who is on a time crunch. At this point, wheels are spinning and it will get frustrating.
If my fitness journey started over and I had to develop my goals it might go like this. Learn to move well, develop endurance, increase strength, and develop a good base of fitness. Then afterwards, I would develop power and explosiveness.
I would make Monday light intensity, Wednesday high, and Friday medium. Whenever I decided to train, I would make sure it is variable.This way I would be able to go into Wednesday with a pop in my step, if not I would know to rest or do something lighter.
Find somebody who will teach you to move well. Make everything you do mindful and purposeful, including rest, which doesn’t include sitting on a couch and not moving (though sometimes that needs to happen too).
So in conclusion, the optimal routine will ensure you are not compounding problems like daily schedules, getting hurt, or not seeing results. Most likely, if exercise has never “clicked” for you, you’ve been caught in sub-optimal traps. Find what active things you like to do, and do them with a purpose.