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The fail-proof gym workout

Siski Green / 05 February 2016

Want to know how to lose weight and look fitter and healthier than ever before? Use this fail-proof gym workout.

gym workout
Do at least 30 minutes of cardio during your gym workout

The reason most people fail to produce results with a gym workout is simple: they stop going to the gym.

But why do they stop? Because they don’t see results soon enough. It’s easy to get demotivated when you can’t see the difference even after you’ve sweated your way through an hour at the gym.

With this gym workout, however, you won’t get demotivated.

Because you’ll vary what you do every time you go so it will never get boring. And because you vary it so much, you’ll also work harder each time you go and therefore burn more fat and lose more weight.

If you stick to this gym workout, we guarantee that after four weeks not only will you see the difference, your friends and family will too. 

Related: Vary your exercise routine for fitness

Select your cardio

There has to be some kind of cardio or aerobic exercise in every session at the gym. You can work on the stationary bicycles, rowing machine, the treadmill, the elliptical machine or in the pool. But you can also do aerobic exercise on the gym mat.

Here are your options. Always include 30 minutes of one of these in your gym session. 

For whatever type of cardio activity you’ve chosen, start slow.

Do three minutes working at a pace that feels good, relaxed even. Now give yourself 30 seconds where you go at it full blast, pumping your legs as hard as you can if you’re on the bike, climbing as fast as you can if you’re on the stairmaster and so on.

The key is to give it your all for those 30 seconds. Now slow it down again for two minutes. Then up it again, going fast but not your fastest for 20 seconds more, give a 10-second final effort at full speed, and finally slow down again for two minutes at a relaxed pace.

The key is not to stop at any point but if you feel like it’s too much simply slow down. This allows you to keep burning calories even when you’re ‘resting.’ 

Choose three machines

Each time you use the machines focus on either your upper body or your lower body, using three machines.

So one day you will use three machines that work on your upper body (the chest press, seated row, lat pull-down, military press and real delta fly, for example) and another day your lower body (leg press, seated leg press, hamstring curl, for example). 

Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions on each machine, taking a short 30-second rest between sets. You should only just be able to complete the move on the 11th or 12th rep. That way you know you are pushing your muscles but not so hard as to get an injury.

This shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes in total. 

Free weights!

A lot of gym goers get so excited by all the machines, they forget to use the free weights. But dumbbells and barbells can get you leaner and fitter very effectively.

Check the free-weights poster at your gym for moves to try or ask a member of staff to help you.

Here are some examples of moves you can try: lateral raises, lunges with dummbells, squats with a bar-bell, Romanian deadlift, dumbbell bentover row, dumbbell overhead press.

Spend around 20 minutes doing three or more of these exercises every other time you visit the gym. On the visits where you don’t use the free weights, do the bodyweight exercises below. 

Related: Fight back against muscle loss

The gym mat

Here’s where you use your own bodyweight to get toned and slim. Do all of these on any visits where you don’t use the free weights.


Lie face-down and place your hands at chest-height, keeping your elbows to your sides. Now raise your entire body so that only your hands and toes are touching the floor, keeping your body as straight as possible.

Hold the position at the top for a count of three, then slowly lower. Aim for 10-12 repetitions and a set of three. 


Lying on your back raise your upper body while supporting your neck loosely with your hands (so as not to strain your neck). Lead with your chest rather than your head to avoid neck strain too. Once you are upright, hold the position for a count of two and lower yourself slowly to the ground.

Aim for 10-12 repetitions and a set of three. 

The side plank

Lie your left side, legs straight. Raise your body onto your left elbow so that it is directly under your left shoulder. Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from your toes to your head.

Hold the position for a count of 10, then lower. Do the same on the other side. Do 10-12 repetitions in total. 

Abdominal lifts

Lie on your back and put both legs in the air, crossing your legs at your ankles. Now raise your bottom off the floor a couple of inches. Repeat.

Do three sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Twisted crunch

Lying on your back with your hands loosely held behind your neck, put both your legs together, knees bent, to one side.

Now do a crunch aiming for the front as you would when doing a straightforward crunch.

Aim for 10-12 repetitions and a set of three. 

Related: How to get rid of belly fat

Nb: If you aren't used to exercise, see your GP before you start. They'll be able to tell you the right type of exercise for you, and give advice on starting slowly and building up gently.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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