Recipe for Success (how to create a workout that also delivers results)

Chances are that if you’re a Personal Trainer or Athlete or have just been around that gym culture for a while you’ll be pretty savvy on how to create a good, sweaty, butt burning workout for yourself.

Just like a a good chef, a good fitness professional will be able to walk into a gym, pick a few random ingredients (in this case, dumbbells, bands, etc) and hey presto, they’ve created a delicious workout.

However that is not the case for everyone, and even for these professionals, it doesn’t always guarantee efficacy and/or results. 

So I wanted to give you guys my recipe for a good workout, and ultimately not just a good workout but results too.

Below are the key ingredients, as well as the method.



A plan (or even better a programme)

A pen or iPhone to track with

Progressive overload

A kettle bell, dumbbells (or some kind of resistance that isn’t just your body)



1. Write your plan before you get to the gym according to your goals.

2. Take your plan to the gym and be ready with your iPhone or pen to track the number of repetitions you perform and weight you lift

3. Gather all the required equipment and have it close to you so that you can focus on the workout without needing to break your concentration looking for that 10kg dumbbell. 

4. Turn your phone on airplane mode, no selfies, no instagram, no emails just you and your training time.

5. Begin to train according to your goals (your plan will have addressed that already)

6. Track every exercise as you go.

7. Finish workout and hydrate and have food (ideally protein and carbs).


Ok so some of that recipe you’re going to understand. Other parts you’re going to be like; ‘Wha?"


Allow me to explain the ingredients and why they’re important:


A lot of people assume that they are working towards their goals just simply by going to the gym. However the way in which you’re training is going to effect the type of result you’re going to see. I know that seems like an obvious point but you’d be amazed at the amount of women that tell me they’re trying to lose weight while they’re sat, almost motionless on one of those adductor inner thigh machines (which by the way is not the most effective way to lose weight or reduce fat around the legs - in saying that, when I first hit the gym, I totally jumped on the thigh gap band wagon, I understand that it seems like a very logical approach).

*Next week I will discuss what kind of training/workout suits what kind of goals.

Goal awareness is also about having the right goals. It’s all good an well to shift your focus towards a 6 pack or perky butt, but if that is your only goal I guarantee you’ll get bored or lose motivation because a warm bed on a cold british morning is just so much more valuable than a 6 pack. Where as, being able to do a pull up is a sustainable reason to train because it is intrinsically motivating and empowering. It also means that you will not be at the mercy of a constantly fluctuating body fat percentage, because your ability to do a pull up is far less effected by your body fat than your ability to see abdominals.

Last but not least, goals just provide you with focus and focus leads to consistency - we will talk more about consistency below.

The Plan (or Programme)

I don’t know about you but I personally don’t have time to mess about in the gym. If I have a spare 45 minutes, every minute is designated to either an exercise or a focused rest period - that is why I always go in with a plan.

I would always recommend that you work to a programme. The benefit of working to a program is that you have a goal in mind, and every session is directed towards that goal. Programmes also factor in a very important aspect of actually seeing/achieving results and that is ‘Progressive Overload’. Which I will talk about again later.

While I don’t expect you to design your own year long programme filled with meso and micro cycles I do recommend that at the very least you have a list of your exercises, the weight you should be lifting and how much you are lifting each week - every time you walk into the gym.

Another benefit to planning is consistency. Many people who train without a plan will try a different workout each week, shifting and changing their focus and goal as frequently as they change their Facebook profile picture or underwear. This does not allow for adaptation at all and therefore again, will inhibit results.

Consistency needs to occur waaaaaay before change does.

I recommend sticking to a plan for a minimum of 3 weeks (in some cases longer) - changing only minor variables within workout and only one at a time. As I mentioned earlier these variables usually refer to the intensity or weight lifted, the rest period, the exercise difficulty, the number of sets or repetitions. However don’t go changing all of these at once (and don’t go chasing waterfalls - sorry I couldn’t help it). 

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is basically the concept of increased stress over a period of time - I should add that stress in this case is not referring to the kind of stress experienced busting to go to the toilet while stuck in traffic or stress from too many deadlines - in this case ’stress’ on the body basically means that your workout is getting a bit harder over a designated period of time. Examples of ‘harder’ are lifting more weight, performing more reps, having less rest, increasing the difficulty of the exercise etc. 

Progressive overload accommodates for an amazing human magic power called adaptation. This refers to the body’s ability to ‘adapt’ to the stimulus (in this case the stimulus being the training). If you do not accommodate in some way for this adaptation in strength and fitness, your body will not need to change any further and although you will continue to train, you will not necessarily see any further results. How demotivating is that?!?


As you guys know I am a lover of weight training. To me weight training allows you to apply progressive overload in a very measurable way and it also makes you feel quite bad ass - I mean do I really need to explain that?

Another thing that people often misunderstand is just how difficult bodyweight resistance training actually is, and sometimes people should be lifting weight before they even begin to attempt the resistance that is created by the body against gravity.

Take a push up for example: Many people can not do a push up (properly). That doesn’t make them a pansy, it’s a really tricky exercise to nail because it requires much more than just arm strength. In fact a push up is what is called a Compound exercise meaning that there are quite a few different muscle groups involved and recruited throughout the exercise. In a push up you are working pretty much the entire body, where as in a chest press, you are isolating the muscles of the chest and arms allowing the rest of your core to relax on the bench. This is a good thing because it allows you to perform the movement correctly, pinpointing areas that require strength before a push up is actually able to be correctly performed.

Weighted training can help you to sculpt the body as you wish, allowing you to bring up body parts that may not be so active (this is not just an aesthetic thing, but actually an important part of developing balance and optimal functioning of the body).


Alrighty, I know this was a lot of information - but as you can see, a lot of thought should go into your workouts before you train.

Of course if you’re only training to ‘burn calories’ by all means, go in and faff about, jump around, twerk, take all the dumbbells off the dumbbell rack and then put them back on again - it doesn’t matter what you do … however if your goals expand far beyond just calorie burning, and I hope they do, then it’s important for you to keep all of the above in mind.

Happy Lifting.

*Don’t forget that my book has a 28-day weighted programme (along with nutrition) for both beginners and advanced trainees - so hit that baby up and preorder it here.

Shona Vertue1 Comment