The Charger Blog

Nutrition Sciences Major Offers Fitness Ideas and Inspiration

For Beatrice Glaviano ’26 following a regular fitness regimen is important to her overall health and well-being. She shares her workout routine and offers ideas to get her classmates charged up about their own wellness.

November 10, 2023

By Beatrice Glaviano ’26

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 at the gym.
Beatrice Glaviano ’26 at the gym.

Author’s Note: this article will include topics such as weight loss, eating disorders, calories, macros, working out, etc. Please keep this in mind: if you believe this content may impact your mental health. I am not a licensed physician, physical therapist, or personal trainer. I just lift for fun, for health, and for my general sanity.

So, I recently released a poll on the good ol’ Instagram asking for some blog ideas (as I want to make sure the material I publish is something that people want to read about), and someone asked me:

“Drop the workout routine”

And, dude, you only had to say the word.

I’ve been a gym-goer since 2018, and my routine has drastically changed since then, as well as my mindset. Originally, I started working out to lose weight and to fit a certain societal mold. I feel like this is a pretty common “origin story” of sorts among the population, along with wanting to gain weight (in terms of muscle). My routine was basically a lot of cardio and little to no weightlifting – so, not super great. I was also 14 and lacked any true fitness knowledge, so I didn’t really make any leaps in terms of progress aside from being able to run faster.

Following the transition from eighth grade into my first year of high school, I fell off the fitness train a little bit. Looking back, I can understand why a younger version of myself was frustrated with my lack of performance but, honestly, I wish that she showed herself compassion. That would’ve gone much farther than the cruelty that ensued later on.

That leads us into 2020: Pandemic, eating disorder, recovery. Not a great series of events to say the least, but I am a firm believer in the fact that if none of these things happened to me, I would not be where I am today. Being in recovery is what really led me to educate myself about nutrition and fitness because if I was ever going to be allowed to step foot in a gym ever again, I needed to understand health on a whole new level – which leads us to now.

Being a nutrition major – as well as a genuine lover of anatomy and physiology – has really given me such a greater appreciation and wonder for the human body. Our daily habits have such an impact on how we operate physically and even mentally as human beings, and if we do not satiate our basic human needs (i.e. proper nutrition, movement, rest, etc.), we won’t function as optimally as we could.

But health isn’t just getting enough vegetables and water; we’re human beings, and our best varies on a daily basis. A huge thing that recovery taught me was to have grace with myself, to be patient, and to be always conscious that progress is not linear. So long as you are always trying, or at least understand what you need to do to pick yourself up, you will always get where you need to be.

Following this, I’ve developed most of my life into flexible living. No restriction, no losing my mind if I’m unable to finish something, accepting failure and learning from it instead of fearing it. Being able to provide nutrition to myself outside of food changed my life, and I’m really hoping that all of you either have had that experience or are on track to finding it.

Most times, you just need to have some belief in yourself.

Going to the gym and being able to move my body is not only a way that I practice self-care, but also a place where I can express myself. I dance between my sets. I’m listening to Lady Gaga. The gym is a place where you can watch yourself grow because you are, in fact, able to do hard things when you put your mind to it.

So, let’s get started.

Firstly, definitions. In the Gym Bro Dictionary, one needs to know how to speak dumbbell in order to apply them. Because of this, I’ve listed some commonly used terms in order to expedite your learning process and perhaps add to your Google search history:

  1. Sets: how many times you do a certain amount of reps; varies on rep number
  2. Reps: how many repetitions of a movement you do during a set
  3. Strength: how much force you can move for a rep
  4. Power: how much force you can produce to lift a maximum amount of weight
  5. Hypertrophy: increasing muscle size
  6. Hyperplasia: increasing the number of muscle cells
  7. Push: muscles that perform a pushing movement; shoulders (all three heads), pectoralis major and minor, and triceps
  8. Pull: muscles that perform a pulling movement; biceps, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, etc.
  9. Progressive Overload: gradually increasing weight or reps over a period of time
  10. Calories: units of energy
  11. Macromolecules: large, organic molecules that the body uses for energy and function; consists of carbohydrates, protein, and fats
  12. Compound movement: movement that utilizes multiple muscle groups
  13. Isolated movement: movement that utilizes a singular muscle group
  14. Isometric: muscle doesn’t increase in length while tension increases
  15. “Go to failure;” being unable to perform another rep due to pure muscle exhaustion
  16. DB: dumbbell

When it comes to structuring your workouts, a good place to start is to establish some goals as they will determine the composition of them. What are you trying to achieve? How do you plan to get there? In my case, I want to get stronger. Getting stronger involves progressive overload, as well as a good amount of patience and a stable influx of protein.

However, given my history of eating disorders, I don’t track my macros or calories but instead focus on how my body is feeling, how she functions, and what foods she responds either positively or negatively to. Yet, this is just a me thing; if you want to track your caloric intake and macros to ensure that you’re achieving your nutrition goals, go for it! It’s just not for me, and that’s okay.

When it comes to my workout split, it’s pretty much a push/pull/leg division, except for a few things:

  1. One day is devoted strictly to cardio and functional abdominal/core work
  2. One day is devoted strictly to shoulders, as I find I don’t hit them well on a push day with chest and triceps (I will also use my shoulder days as a general arm day too)
  3. One day always is a rest day
  4. It’s okay to have more than one rest day

Before, missing a gym day was the end of the world. But dude, we’re in college: stuff hits the fan, and, at the end of the day, it’s okay to sacrifice things for others (like sleep or time studying). What matters is consistency, and even if you miss a week (or in my case, three months) the gym is always there for you. Movement is an integral, instinctive part of human biology, culture, and general life.

We are meant to move, to exercise our free will physically in whatever form we’d like – so long as it doesn’t impact the health and wellbeing of others, that is. But, if you find joy in doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or prefer the slow speed of pilates, do it. Who’s going to stop you? Enjoy your body, dude.

And with that, let’s start with Monday.

It’s leg day, baby.

Typically, leg day is twice a week (Thursday is the other) and my muscle focus shifts to ensure that each muscle group is getting worked. While Monday is centered on quads, calves, and glutes, Thursday is meant strictly for the posterior chain. My routine typically involves:

  • Warm-up. (Yoga, dynamic/static stretches, mile run; whatever I’m feeling
  • 4x6-8: Back squat
    • Superset of 8-10 jump squats following each set
  • 5x10: Leg press
  • 3x10: Single-leg Leg press
  • 4x6-8: Leg Extensions
    • Superset of 8-10 reps of ¼-½ your working weight
  • Cardio: 20-30 minute walk (Incline: 15, Speed: 3.0-3.3)

So, this is the core of every one of my leg days. If I want to throw in other stuff, I will. Doing calf raises on the leg press (I do them timed, 45 seconds on to 15 off), KAS glute bridges (4x6-8), Bulgarian split-squats, etc. I provide myself plenty of variation, but if you’re looking for the average, basic leg day, this is what you’d want.

Personally, I will always start my workout off with the heaviest compound movement (i.e. squats, deadlift, or bench) which involves using multiple muscle groups. By doing this, I will be able to produce the most force for the movement and allow myself to push more weight. Additionally, I’ll be able to focus on hypertrophy after this during the workout. Pretty cool, right? Some other cool things worth mentioning about this routine:

  • Don’t lock your knees on leg press. Just don’t
  • Leg extensions help strengthen your patellar tendon; helps immensely if you have knee pain
  • Always compress your abdomen when squatting; soda cans are harder to crush when they’re filled, right?
  • Isolated movements, such as single-leg leg presses, allow you to form a better mind-to-muscle connection and provide a better, stronger contraction of that muscle or muscle group
  • LISS (Low-Impact Steady State) cardio helps preserve muscle mass, and helps you cool down post-workout
Tuesday: Push Day (Chest/Triceps)
  • Warm-up!
  • 4x6-8: Bench press (either incline or flat)
  • 4x8-10: DB bench press (either incline or flat; just do the opposite of what you did before)
  • 3x15: Chest flies
  • 4x6-8: Tricep pull-downs
  • 3x15: Tricep press
  • 3x10: Skullcrushers
  • Cardio: incline walk, 1-1.5 mile run; really whatever lol

For push days, I actually put a decent bit of time into stretching. My shoulders like to cramp up a lot, and given that bench press puts a lot of pressure on your shoulder (ball-and-socket) joints, it can cause a lot of discomfort if you perform a movement wrong. While benching or performing any pressing movement, ensuring that your arms are at a 45-degree angle and not just straight out while going down will help you prevent joint injury and general pain. At the end of the day, prioritize weight you can push safely, not the ego lifting that may come to haunt you in your 60s (or earlier).

Wednesday: Pull Day
  • 4x6-8: Deadlifts
  • 4x6-8: Barbell Rows
  • 4x6-8: Hammer Curls
  • 3x10: Bicep Curls
    • Superset with ten reps of 2.5-5 lbs less than working weight (i.e. if you used 15lbs for the main set, you would go down to either 12.5lbs or 10 lbs dumbbells)
  • 4x6-8: Pull Ups
    • Feel free to make these assisted (machine or bands), or crank them out on a bar!
  • 3-4x8: Lateral Pull-Downs
    • If you feel up to four sets, do it! But three is the minimum for this movement
  • 3x10: Seated Cable Rows

Alright people, for back and bis, there are a few crucial things to take note of:

  • Proper form
    • Please, please, please take the time to learn how to properly deadlift and protect your spine
    • The spinal column (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae; coccyx, too, if you count it) is responsible for protecting and supporting the spinal cord, which sends a bunch of signals to your body in order for it to work right. There are several types of nerves and different nervous sub-systems, but they work together for a common goal: to keep you alive.
  • Go slow. By slowing the movement down, you will allow a proper contraction to take place and henceforth, better progression in strength and hypertrophy. The exception to this is when you’re working with a light weight and many reps, which is something typically done to achieve muscular fatigue (AKA burnout). However, make sure your form is correct at all times

These points go for any movement in the gym. Squats, bench, cardio – our bodies are made that form determines function, and if your form in the gym isn’t proper, not only will your performance struggle, but you run a higher risk for injury to your muscles, ligaments, joints, and potentially even bones. So, if you feel as though a movement is feeling a little funky or you’re unable to do it properly at the weight you’re at, there is no shame to go down in weight to ensure you’re uninjured.

Last, but not least: cardio and abs.

On these days, I don’t typically have a set “routine” of sorts as I like keeping things varied when it comes to cardio, but I do have a few that I rotate:

  • For cardio:
    • 30 minutes of incline walking (I set mine to incline: 15, speed: 3.0-3.3)
    • 20-30 minutes of HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
      • This can be done on a treadmill or with body weight exercises (of which you can add a dumbbell to increase resistance)
    • 1 hour of hiking or LISS (low-impact steady state cardio)
    • Honestly whatever really challenges me
  • For abdominal/core:
    • Probably some YouTube workout I found
    • 4x30 seconds on/off: Kettlebell Around-the-Worlds
    • 3x10: Kettlebell marches (each side)

The last two really focus on the functional aspect of the core rather than the aesthetics. The abdomen is primarily responsible for holding your internal organs in place and providing a center of gravity for the body. By challenging that center, you gain better balance to off-putting stimuli (i.e. someone pushing you, tripping, etc). Essentially, functional training helps you move better through your environment as a human being.

It can also help you run to class, lol.

So, there you have it folks: my workout routine (or at least the bare basics of it). Keep in mind that this is what I do to keep myself healthy, and depending on your medical history, health goals, etc., what you do in the gym may be entirely different from what I do, and that’s perfectly okay. Doing things in the interest of your body is far better than doing it for someone’s else’s. It is important to understand that working out or eating in a certain way will not be the sole determiner of your external appearance, which is something that took me a long time to figure out on my own.

I hope that by providing this, you’ll be able to structure your movement routine (I prefer saying this rather than “workout” as movement, as a whole, is a goal in itself) for yourself. Just remember to not be too hard on yourself, and understand that perhaps instead of working toward a specific body “type” or “look,” move your body in a way that makes you feel good. I hope this week has gone well for everyone, and that we’re all taking the time we need for ourselves.

Feel free to reach out to me at either or with any questions, concerns, or blog ideas! See you in the next one.

Peace, love, and all the peanut butter,

Beatrice Glaviano ’26 is a nutrition sciences major at the University of New Haven.