Most people work out just like Christopher Columbus. They go to the gym not know what they are going to do. They get to said gym and wander around not knowing what to do. They come home not knowing what they did.
Chris Columbus left for the "new world"not knowing where the heck he was going. When he got there he certainly didn't know where he was. To prove his ineptness he named the people that he found "Indians". (The real tragic irony today is that we still call Native Americans Indians.) He then went home really not knowing where he'd been.
Do you know people that work out this way? I sure do.
OK, my advice to those of you that may resemble my remarks: Have a plan! It doesn't have to be complex it just needs to be. Go to the gym with a piece of paper that has on it a workout. I don't know. Make something up. Just jot down something, walk into your workout facility and do that.
OK, so you want some guidance. What should you do?
Make sure that your workout has at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. You should do some functional drills and some resistance training as well. Do all three and you are getting somewhere! How many of each is up to you. As long as you do a little bit of all three then you are good to go. Let's look at what each really is and what are some options.
CARDIO: If you are sweating then you are doing cardio. You need to do at least 20 minutes of cardio virtually everyday of your life. It doesn't matter what you do really as long as you do something. I think the treadmill is the best. Swimming and rowing are excellent as well. The other stuff is acceptable as long as you do it!
FUNCTIONAL EXERCISES: Push-ups, burpees, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups, jumping jacks... see a pattern here? If you are being dynamic and/or using just your body weight then you are using your body the way it was meant to be used. To fit this into your gym routine pick at least 3 exercises and pick 3 numbers. Execute. I like to do push-ups, squats and pull-ups. As part of my routine I might do 50 push-ups, 25 squats and 20 pull-ups. Other exercises can be just as effective. You can do this at home as well. Just think of what your fitness level would be if you started your day off with 20 each squats, sit-ups, burpees, jumping jacks and push-ups. 5 minutes that could save your life.
RESISTANCE TRAINING: The "Express Circuit" is ok for the beginners but if you have any fitness at all you need to get into free weights. Here's what you need you: Focus on doing compound exercises that involve pushing, pulling and squatting. A compound exercise in one that involves multiple joints. Bench press (elbow/shoulder) is and bicep curl (elbow) is not. Doing to many sets is a waste of time. Two sets is enough. Also working the biceps, triceps, calves, forearms etc. is silly and needless. You're better off doing cardio.
OK let's tie it all together into a nice workout.
1. Cardio 20 minutes on treadmill running/walking.
2. Do at least 3 functional exercises.
3. Resistance training. For the beginner a trip through the "Express Circuit" followed by lunge walks, bench press, and lat pull-down (1 set each). For the more experienced it's 2 sets each of leg press, back squats, bench press, lat-pull down, and overhead press.
4. 15 minutes on the rowing machine.
5. Stretch for 5 minutes and be done. Have a GREAT day.
60 minutes and you are done and gone. No talking involved. No catching up with olds friends. You do that before or after. Arrive, work out hard, move on. For the quicker workout skip the 2nd cardio.
When you go to the gym have a plan. If you don't then you'll just show and do nothing like many people do. Millions of people join gyms every year and millions and people quit the gym because they don't get results. You earn the results and it requires hard work and planning.
Good luck. Have faith is yourself. Your fitness level is, afterall, your choice.