~~~ Build Your Own Exercise Program ~~~

Here are the building blocks of a program that will increase your energy capacity, provides great well-being and high-value fat burn.

Any good exercise program involves upper as well as lower body. Many people focus on one discipline, like cycling, and find themselves plateauing after a while. Your body adapts to the monotonous workout and reduces also fat-burn. An increasingly challenging program that includes your entire body, will make a great difference.

70 min
Workout structure
Modify times accordingly, if you want to exercise longer/shorter.
10 min Warm-up
20 min Cardio exercises
15 min Muscular endurance for upper body: fast exercises with low weights many repetitions
15 min Strengthen upper body: high weights few repetitions
10 min Cool down and stretch


Exercise building block info graphic


~~~ Cardio ~~~

1Start with a 20-30 mins cardio workout. Variety is king, so alter your exercises on different days: jogging/treadmill, cycling, cross trainer, rowing machine, step machine. Mondays and Thursdays could be your running day. Tuesday cycling, and so on.

2You can also vary within the same exercise. If you like jogging, on different days do: 15 mins fast runs, 30 mins slow run, 20 mins of fast 400 meter intervals, 20 mins hill runs, 15 mins of high intensity intervals. You can do the same with cycling, and other exercises. This will progress you faster than constant speed runs every day.


~~~ High intensity interval training (HIIT) ~~~

Fat-burn – Even if you are in a healthy weight area, you might be interested to lose those last pounds.

3High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been found to be particularly effective for fat burn. Studies indicate that you burn fat after this type of training for up to 24 hours.

4HIIT encompasses 30 seconds of highest intensity with a “break” of 30 secs of low intensity. Alternatively, do 20 secs high intensity 10 secs low. Repeat this 4-8 times and then go on 2 mins low intensity. Then start another block of 4-8 times high/low intensity. Do at least two blocks of this. If you can, do a third block.

5Running or cycling high intensity means you run/cycle the fastest possible. However, pace yourself so that you get through all cycles.

6You can use HIIT as part of your cardio work out and as part of your muscular endurance work-out block.

Great Cardio apps

10k Runner – Trains you to run 10k within 14 weeks.

BioLogic BikeBrain – A nice cycling monitor incl GPS.

iMapMyRun+ – Popular run tracker. Android app

iMapMyRIDE+ – Popular cycle tracker. Android app

Nike+ GPS – Very popular and nice GPS tracker. Nike+ GPS on Amazon

Best Timer – Very fancy sports timer.


~~~ Muscular endurance – upper body ~~~

I haven’t found scientific evidence, but my own experience is clear. Muscular endurance exercises make me feel great and give me huge amounts of energy throughout the day. Should I be unable to exercise for a few days in a row, the feeling goes back to very ordinary.

7Next come muscular endurance exercises for your upper body. This means exercises with fast repetitions at low weight or body weight. Use multi-functional exercises for this, applying one of the timers mentioned under HIIT. This will continue the fat-burn effect from your cardio block and warm you up for the strength block.

8Multi-functional exercises should form the core of your exercises. They exercise several muscle groups at the same time, for example, push-ups exercise your triceps, pecs, core, shoulders. They will boost well-being in your body much more than isolated muscle exercises like biceps curls which just exercise your biceps.

Muscle Group
Pull Upper back/lats, biceps, forearms Pull-ups, pull-downs, rowing machine, lateral raises, most rows
Push Pectorals, shoulders, triceps, deltoids Push-ups, dips, military press, cable cross-over, most fly
Core Core Abs, lower back, obliques, intercoastals Bicycles, planks, leg lifts, Russian twists, sit-ups, side-bend, woodchop
Legs Legs, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves Squats, lunges, box/high/side jumps, hip extensions, Romanian deadlifts
All body All body Back, chest, legs, core, shoulders, arms Deadlifts, burpees, kettlebell swing

Exercise your entire body!
You Are Your Own Gym – a multi-months training program that can be done at home and doesn’t require equipment. Amazing how easy, yet challenging, these simple exercises are. The book - The kindle book - Related products

The app The book


~~~ Strength ~~~

9Next comes a strength block. This will complement the previous block. Use high weights and repeat until near muscular failure, 7-10 repetitions at slow pace with 5-10 secs for 1 repetition.

10If you focus more on strength, do this block before the endurance block. This way you will still have your full strength to lift heavier weights, but make sure you warm-up first.

11Never skip muscular endurance exercises, the biggest contributor to well-feeling and getting the work-day tension out of your body.


Strength Training by DK Publishing – many beautiful illustrations and explanations to build your own strength program. Click for details (Amazon)


~~~ Final touches ~~~

12For recovery and well-feeling stretch your body 10-15 mins.

13Try different activities, join a different class every few months. Also try balance and flexibility exercises to train different muscles.

14You need to huff and puff while exercising. Crank it up a notch until this happens, without pushing yourself over the limit.

15If you have any medical condition, feel strange, dizzy or faint while exercising stop and seek medical advice.


Learn more about this….

Get started

Exercise program info graphic

Getting started is the most difficult part and also the phase where most people drop out. Tips to get started and keep going. Learn more

Your exercise template

Vary exercise progam info graphic

More tips on how you can build your own exercise program tailored to your preferences and how a sample program can look like. Learn more


By Murat Uenlue, PhD, PMP, 2013.

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