workout plan

How to Create a Workout Plan

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So many people go into the gym without a clue what they are going to do, well we will put an end to that as we show you how to create a workout plan just for you.

As the old saying goes: Fail to plan – Plan to fail.

Or another great quote I saw today: The only difference between Try and Triumph is a little bit of Umph.

 

You could pay for a personal trainer, but they can be expensive.

So why not be your own personal trainer and learn to create your own training plan?

 

Let’s have a look at what you need to consider before designing your program;

 

TIME: How much time can you realistically dedicate to training? This part is crucial, because when we get to your schedule you’ll need to know how you will allocate body parts or groups to each session throughout the week.

Ideally, I would suggest 3 days each week as a minimum, at least as you’re starting out, 5 days – even better. Aim for a good 30-60 minutes per session.

 

Write done the days of the week, get your calendar and work out when you can workout. Again, be realistic about what you can do otherwise you’ll fail in the first week.

Important: Give yourself 2 days of rest every week. Your body needs time to recover and repair. Have some time for yourself, your family and friends.

Make a promise that you will train on those days, no matter what. There are many excuses you could come up with not to train, but they are excuses, not reasons.

 

Here is an example;

 

  • Monday – Workout
  • Tuesday – Workout
  • Wednesday – Workout
  • Thursday – Rest
  • Friday – Workout
  • Saturday – Workout
  • Sunday – Rest (Family Day)

 

ACTIVE RECOVERY

Now you’ve got your workout and rest days planned, I want you to schedule some Active Recovery sessions. These will help with your recovery from your more intense training.

 

Some things I like to do for Active Recovery;

  1. A long walk
  2. Yoga or Pilates (Low Intensity)
  3. Foam Rolling
  4. Swimming (Gentle swim)

This will keep your body moving, give you a light recovery, repair your muscles reduce stress and improve your range-of-motion.

 

One of your Active Recovery (AR) exercises should be on a Workout day, and one on a Rest day. You could alternate weeks, for example;

 

Week A

  • Monday – Workout + AR-Swimming
  • Tuesday – Workout
  • Wednesday – Workout
  • Thursday – Rest + AR-Yoga or Pilates
  • Friday – Workout
  • Saturday – Workout
  • Sunday – Rest (Family Day)

 

Week B

  • Monday – Workout + AR-Long Walk
  • Tuesday – Workout
  • Wednesday – Workout
  • Thursday – Rest + AR-Foam Rolling
  • Friday – Workout
  • Saturday – Workout
  • Sunday – Rest (Family Day)

 

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to choose what workouts you’ll do…

 

 

VARIETY

 

Do not do the same thing every day– It will cause mental burnout, physical injury and, quite frankly, you’ll get bored. Your muscles need time to recover and repair, so never workout the same muscle group twice in 24 hours.

 

Change your program every 6-8 weeks– We’ll cover this later, but don’t let yourself get bored, so come back and go through the process again every couple of months and change it up. After a while your muscles will get used to your routine, you’ll start finding it easier and more importantly, you’ll start to get complacent, even bored.

 

 

CHALLENGE

 

It’s not a competition, but you will need to challenge yourself, push yourself.

Your program needs to make you work, but you also need to be able to complete each workout, so find a good balance.

 

Up your game– Like anything, the more you do it, the better and easier it will become. As you progress, and you start finding the workout easier to complete, increase your level of difficulty – longer run, slightly heavier weights, shorter rest time between sets, harder exercises. You will learn when to do this, but every 3-6 weeks is usual.

 

 

RECORD KEEPING 

Keep track– This is as important (if not more so) than creating the program in the first place. This is how you track your activity and your progress, how you’ll know where you started and how far you’ve come. It can even help you see where you might need to reduce weights and by how much – be realistic and do not push yourself so hard that you wither cannot complete a set, or end up injured.

Use an app, download a workout diary, or simply keep a notebook specifically for your workouts.

 

Take a selfie– This is really hard for some people, but bear with me. You’ve seen those progress photos on social media, and motivational before & after posts. Just like the Keep track section above, taking regular photos gives you a visual progress diary.

Take a full body photo in the mirror, or if you feel comfortable enough get your partner or friend to take one. Not in your birthday suit, but in some comfortable gym wear that shows off your body as much as possible – do that today.

Do it regularly, every 2-4 weeks, preferably at the same time of day (in the morning before breakfast) and make sure you record the time and date.

Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, you might not actually lose pounds/kilos, but you should see physical changes over time. It’s a lot harder to see it day-to-day, but when you look back over your progress photos you will see some changes.

 

Time for a weigh-in– Step on the scales, do it now! As mentioned above, you will need to monitor your progress, so I would weigh myself and take the selfie at the same time every week or two.

There are some great apps that can help with all these progress records.

 

 

THE WORKOUT PROGRAM

We’re getting to the good stuff now, so well done if you’ve read everything to this point.

 

Keep it simple! You will find hundreds of different workouts online, and that’s fine, but today we will help you create your own, that’s just for you. We don’t want to overcomplicate things, we want to make it as easy as possible to get started.

 

5 of the best– Your workout routine should contain at least one exercise from the following:

  • Quads(thighs/front of legs)
  • Glutes and Hamstrings(Bum and back of legs)
  • Chest, Shoulders and Triceps(‘Push’ muscles)
  • Back and Biceps(‘Pull’ muscles)
  • Core(Abdominals and lower back)

These are compound movements that train groups of muscles at the same time. You can build a full body workout with just 4 or 5 exercises.

 

First, we will look at a range or movements for each body group from above:

 

  • Quads: Squats, Lunges, One-Legged Squats, Box Jumps.
  • Glutes and Hamstrings: Deadlifts, Hip Raises, Romanian Deadlifts, Good Mornings, Step-Ups.
  • Chest, Shoulders and Triceps: Bench Press, Push Ups, Overhead Press, Tricep Dips, Tricep Push-Downs.
  • Back and Biceps: Chin Ups, Pull Ups, Seated rows, Dumbbell Rows.
  • Core: Plank, Crunches, Mountain Climbers, Hanging Knee Raises.

You could use these as a 5-day workout, or if you can only do 3 or 4 days pick enough of each group to fill your workout day. I look to do 6-7 exercises each workout day.

 

For a simple, full body workout, you could do a Compound Workout:

 

  1. Bench Press: 4 sets of 5 reps
  2. Overhead Press: 4 sets of 6 reps
  3. Tricep Dips: 3 sets of 8 reps
  4. Deadlift: 5 sets of 5 reps
  5. Squat: 4 sets of 6 reps
  6. Pull Ups: 3 sets of 5 reps
  7. Bent Over Row: 4 sets of 6 reps

These could be done in one workout day. It really is that simple.

 

Building your program

Now you’ve got the basics sorted, let’s look at how to fit that into your workout diary.

I swear by Compound Movements. So, the simplest way to build them into your workout is to split them over the days you can workout on. If you can only commit to 2 or 3 days a week, you could just do the above full body compound workout, allowing at least one rest day in between each workout day. Or you could split them in half or three (ish).

 

Another good idea, especially for a 3-day split is to do the following:

  1. Push – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
  2. Pull – Back and Biceps
  3. Legs and Core – Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Abs

Remember to warm up!

Just as important as the workout itself is the warm up. It prepares your body, warms up and loosens your muscles, and increases your heart rate ready for the workout. Make sure you do a warmup before each and every workout.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • 7-minute HIIT workout
  • 10-minute jog or cycle
  • 500m row

7-minute HIIT workout example

Do the following 7 exercises, 20 seconds on – 10 seconds rest, twice each;

  1. High Knees
  2. Squat Jumps
  3. Push Ups
  4. Lunges
  5. Burpees
  6. Mountain Climbers
  7. Plank

SUMMARY

That’s it! By now you should know how to create your own workout.

  • Figure out how many days you’ll be training and split your workouts over the days.
  • Each workout day start with a 5-10-minute warm-up
  • Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes per workout
  • After each set rest for 30-45 seconds before the next.
  • Rest for 1-2 minutes between each group of sets.
  • Stretch after each workout.

(This post will be updated regularly)

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