How to build your own workout?

Do you want to know how to build your own workout? I am here to help you unlock the secret’s. I am going to run through the do and don’ts of programming. Programming really isn’t that hard. The issue that most people run into is they just don’t know what exercises to pick from. Okay let’s dive into the steps that should be taken to build your own workout.

Your program needs to be phased. This might sound extremely complicated. It’s not. There are three phases that you should move in and out of. These phases can be worked in any order. It’s important to switch your phases every 3-6 weeks for long term results. Phase 1 is high sets – low reps. This usually means 5-10 sets for 1-5 reps and lifting heavy with 2+ minutes of rest. Phase 2 is Medium Sets – medium reps. This usually means 3-4 sets for 8-12 reps and lifting a medium heavy weight with rest times of 60 seconds. Phase 3 is Low sets – high reps. This means 1-3 sets for 15+ reps and lifting a light to medium weigh with rest times of 30 seconds or less.

How many days should you be working out? Everyone is different and their definition of working out is different as well. I work out 3 days a week and that’s what I recommend to most people if they can swing it. 3 days allows your body to recover between workouts. With that being said I move in some fashion every day. That may mean a walk or mobility or body weight exercises. I don’t necessarily call those workouts. I count my workout as hitting the gym hard. If you are taking building your program seriously I would recommend only 3 days.

Next is your exercise selection. You already know how many sets and reps you are doing now we need to know what you are doing. I subscribe to full body workouts. I hate leg day, it is the worst. Now you might really enjoy leg day but let’s say you hate chest day. If you hate doing a body part specific day you are significantly less likely to do that day in the gym. This is why I subscribe to full body workouts. I am much more likely to do 1 leg exercise if that is all I have to do for the day and it’s spread out over 3 days as opposed to 1 dedicated day. 

This is where people get caught up in the whole programming is hard. You want to do everything under the sun in terms of exercises and you’re spending hours in the gym and eventually you burn yourself out and you stop working out. I am going to stop here and tell you something you probably don’t want to hear. Fitness is a lifelong journey. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to do too much and burnt myself out because I want to accomplish too many things at once. You need to change your mindset. You can’t have it all right now. I have tried. I still try and it always ends with the same result of me failing and abandoning my program.

So how do you select exercises without burning yourself out. You have 6 major muscle groups. They are your quads, hamstrings, core, chest, back and shoulders. If you are doing full body you should be selecting one exercise to hit all these areas. I can make an argument you can eliminate the core because you should be working your core in tandem with all those muscle groups.

That means you only need to do 5 or 6 exercises when you are in the gym. That’s it. 5 or 6 exercises 3 days a week. I know what you are thinking, what about my arms or those non-major muscle groups? The answer is it depends on how complicated you want your program to be. As stated above the more complicated something is the less likely you are to do it. The simplest way to hit body parts you want to work on is to reduce your full body days to 2 and make your third day the area you want to focus on.

So what exercises should you pick for each major muscle group? Here is a couple options per body part:

Quads: squats, split squats, bulgarian split squats, lunges, lateral lunges, step ups, Sled pushes

Hamstrings: Deadlifts, hamstring curls, Romanian deadlifts, glute bridges, good mornings, Single leg deadlift

Chest: Chest press, Chest Fly, push ups, dips

Back: Rows, pullups, Lat pull downs, Pullovers, Rear flys

Shoulders: Shoulder press, Lateral raise, front Raise, Arnold press, upright row.

These are just a few exercises. I didn’t go into every exercise or every variation. There are way more than 4 chest exercises. For instance, you can do a barbell chest press, a dumbbell chest press, an incline chest press, Cable fly, dumbbell fly, Suspension trainer fly, suspension trainer push up. These are the foundations to build your own workout.

The last thing to go over is what order you should do these exercises in. Personally, I go in the order of hardest to easiest. Is that right or wrong? Definitely not. The order doesn’t matter so much. There is some research that suggests that you will get the most benefit from the first exercise you perform. So if you want nice legs, you are better off starting with squats and deadlifts rather than upper body.

Let’s recap real quick because this was a long blog. Stop trying to do too much with workouts. Keep your workouts simple and don’t over complicate them. Next, phase your program, Don’t stay in one phase too long or you will hit a plateau. Pick the number of days to work out that is right for you. If you can only attend one day that’s fine. Do what you are able to. I recommend 3 but I know that can be unrealistic for some people. Lastly, pick the right exercises to maximize your results. Tricep kickbacks aren’t going to get you great results. The big hard lifts are what will get you results. That is how you build your own workout.

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