Today’s guest blog comes from Andrew Fox. Take it away Andrew …
Most people just show up to the gym and try to mimic the next buff dude doing curls or pull downs and expect to get similar or better results.
They might pick up on bits and pieces of information from here and there, but without a proper understanding and an efficient road map, they’re only headed for disaster.
Designing your own workout routine isn’t as complicated or as difficult as you might imagine. Plus, there are some great benefits to tailoring a workout routine to meet your specific exercise goals.
The greatest benefit by far to building your own routine is the knowledge you gain from your own research and effort, which is never lost and can be applied time and again to modify your workouts in order to satisfy varying training goals.
Let’s look at 5 tips to building an effective Workout Plan…
You can only begin from where you are.
It’s perfectly good to set goals and dream big, but if you’re serious about making your goals a reality, you should be honest about your current level of fitness. Before you even think about lifting weights, you should develop overall body strength through bodyweight training, which involves basic exercises such as pushups, pull-ups, squats, sit-ups, lunges, the plank and variations of these.
After an honest evaluation of strength levels, it’s time to set your goals. Whether, it’s building muscle, losing fat, increasing strength, getting ripped or building endurance, write you’re your goal/goals down because you’re going them need to tailor your ideal workout plan.
Your workout consistency is going to determine your success with your workouts. If you have a demanding job and a wife and kids that need your attention and care, now is the time to factor them all in.
Whatever your situation, you need to be able to assess the amount of time you can devote your training, whether that’s 30 minutes every day or 30 minutes only a few times a week. Knowing how much time you can ideally devote every week to your training without disrupting your schedule is going to greatly affect your consistency.
Once you know how much time you can dedicate, you need to select a workout routine split that fits your ideal training frequency and your weekly work/life schedule.
For example, a workout split, that we’ve found to work particularly well with our busy clients, is a 3 day full body split routine. Now, you can decide whether you prefer M,W,F or T, TH,SA for your workout days. The days in between are meant for rest and light activity such as walking or a swim if you have the time.
Once you know how frequently you’ll be training, the next step is to pick the exercises that are going to help you meet your workout goals. As an example, let’s say that you decide to adopt a 3 day full body split workout routine, like the one we mentioned on top. In this case, you’ll be performing 3-5 different compound exercises that target more than one muscle in the body.
So, let’s assume you perform a power rack workout routine involving squats, bench presses, barbell rows and the plank.
The squats will target your quads, lower legs, butt, lower back, and your core.
The bench press will emphasize your chest, triceps and forearm muscles.
And, the barbell row will build your middle and lower back, hamstrings, biceps and forearms.
Finally, the plank will strengthen your inner core and stabilizing muscles that will benefit your form in all the previous exercises. How’s that for compact and efficient!
Now, that you know your ideal training frequency and your exercises, it’s time to decide how hard you’re going to work (intensity – time intervals, rest etc) and how much work you’re going to do (volume – sets, reps etc).
Before we get to workout intensity, let’s talk about sets and reps.
Ideally, we recommend doing 3-5 sets for each exercise, so if you’re doing 3-5 exercise, that’s a total of 9-25 sets for each workout. If you’re a beginner, it’s okay if you fall towards the lower end of the above range, however you should try to perform at least 16-25 sets per workout over time to get the best results.
What about Reps? A lot has been said about ideal rep ranges for various workout goals and the nueral-metabolic continuum. However, here is a broadly accepted guide for rep ranges and the muscle training goals that they advocate:
Low Reps (1-5 reps)(4-5 sets):
This rep range advocated the use of heavier weights and coerces your body to build immense power and strength. Your gains in strength will exceed gains in muscle size.
Medium Reps (6-12 reps)(3-4 sets):
This rep range builds equal amounts of strength and size.
High Reps (10-12)(2-3 sets):
This rep range is ideal for building muscle. Although you will experience gains in strength; gains in size will exceed gains in strength.
You might have heard that it’s great to mix up your workouts and spend time training both in the high end of the range spectrum as well as the low end, since doing this keeps your muscles guessing and adapting. While this is true, the rule is to spend at least 4-6 weeks training in one end of the spectrum before training in the other and not in both rep ranges in a single week.
If you’re training low reps and high sets, you should rest 2-3 mins in between sets and 3-5 mins between exercises.
If you’re training High reps and low sets, you can rest 60-90 secs in between sets and 2-3 mins between exercises.
Without progressive overload you’re not going to make any head way with muscle growth and your training.
Basically, progressive overload means lifting or doing more than before, which forces your muscles to adapt to the new load and therefore causes growth. If you’re not either lifting more weight , or adding more difficulty by increasing reps or reducing rest periods you can’t expect growth or results.
The best way to ensure that you’re making progress, albeit slowly, is to keep a workout journal where you track all your workouts and can compare to see where you’re lacking and if you’re indeed making progress.
Alright, guys, you now have a pretty solid road map to take you where you want to be in terms of your workout goals. Simply follow the above steps and modify your plan to achieve your specific exercise goal. Good luck and workout smart!
Andrew is the founder and CEO at Aim Workout.
He is passionate fitness professional and triathlete, with years of experience in indoor cycle spinning. He has also been an avid mountain biker, deep sea diver, rock climbing guide and has spent considerable time learning and practising mixed martial arts. In short, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.
Andrew mentioned about the need to switch up your sets and reps earlier on.
And this is CRUCIAL when it comes to getting ‘Hulk strong’ and building head-turning muscle.
The trouble is, most guys do this wrong, and mix up the strategic, customized, planned variation with ‘muscle confusion’ which is 100% bogus.
We’ve managed to get round that, cut through the crap, and lay out the perfect template for getting in different sets, rep ranges and loads all into one program, so you’re guaranteed to get stronger (even while dropping body fat) or ramp up your lifts and pack on size.
You can check that out here.
Tags: 5 training tips, how to write a workout plan, my workout isn't working, periodized workout plans, tips for writing workouts
Sign up to the newsletter for regular updates