I feel like the fitness industry makes it seem like creating an effective workout routine is a mystery.
Especially personal trainers – they’ll talk your ear off about what’s important and make you feel like you don’t know enough to do it yourself.
Good news: it’s easy!
Step 1: Pick your magic number
The first step is to create a plan based on how many days per week you’re able to workout (aka your magic number!).
Now don’t be too aggressive, we don’t want you spending time making a plan that isn’t reasonable or doable for your schedule. Make it a healthy balance of a bit of a challenge while also being realistic.
If you’re just starting out, you probably don’t want to aim for 5 days per week. That’s just a really quick jump from no exercise to daily exercise, and you’ll likely get burnt out. We don’t want that! Start with maybe 2 days and see how it goes.
We’re looking for consistency!
Step 2: Schedule your workout days
Maybe you work late Tues/Thurs, so you know you only want to workout in the morning those days. Make sure you schedule it in!
If you KNOW you can’t get up in the AM, schedule your workouts for after work. Make sure you hit your magic number in your scheduling every week!
It’s important to think about how you feel on certain days, how your motivation levels change, and what times of day you feel energized. Cater your schedule to these so that you’re most likely to succeed in your plan!
Step 3: Choose your workout split
This really depends on what you determined from step 1, and also your access to equipment.
Generally, if you’re working out 1-3 days per week, you probably want to focus on doing full body workouts each day. That way, you’ll be hitting many muscle groups and getting the most bang for your buck with not a lot of days working out. Heck, you can even do full body workouts always. Depends on the volume, your goals, and your recovery time!
If you’re working out 4-6 days per week, you can think about doing certain splits that may work with your routine. You can base this off of your goals, or just do the splits that keep you feeling excited to workout and motivated to succeed!
Workout split options:
- Upper/Lower split
- This split will have you focusing on lower body certain days, upper body others. You could do 2 each if you are working out 4 days/week. Or 2 upper, 3 lower if you’re working out 5 days/week. Cater to your goals and what you enjoy training!
- Muscle groups
- You can pick your split based on more specific muscle groups, such as back & biceps, quads & glutes, chest & shoulders, etc. You can really pick whatever you like to do together! There’s no “right” answer. You can really cater this to your goals – say you want to train glutes 3 days/week, and only want to train quads, shoulders, and chest 1 day per week. Pair each of those with some glutes and you’re golden!
- This workout split is cut up by movement patterns. “Push” patterns are performed by muscle groups that primarily push (triceps, chest, quads, lateral and medial deltoids), such as dips, bench press, squats, lateral raises, etc. “Pull” patterns are performed by muscles involved in pulling (back muscles, hamstrings, traps, rear delt) such as pull ups, rows, hamstring curls, Russian deadlifts, [What is an RDL?]shrugs, fly’s, etc. This split gives you sort of a full body day feel and can allow you to hit muscle groups multiple times in 1 week.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but is definitely a good place to start!
Step 4: Write in exercises for your split
Now is the fun part!
Based on your workout split, choose exercises that fit into your specific days. For full body days, try to incorporate multiple muscle groups and lots of different movement patterns (think: forward/backward, lateral, rotational). That way you’ll get the most out of each day!
If you’ve selected another split option, pick exercises that fit for each day’s muscle group or movement pattern (push or pull).
If you don’t know of many exercises, you can always look at my Instagram for ideas, or you can simply google “push exercises” or “hamstring workout” and you’ll likely be able to find options that fit your level of experience, equipment needs, and goals.
Step 5: Action!
You have your plan, so you REALLY don’t have an excuse now!
Just remember that no one is motivated 24/7. No one wants to workout every session. Sometimes our bodies feel off, we’re tired, we’re busy, and our inner thoughts are telling us to “just do it tomorrow.”
If you really need a rest day, take it. But if you don’t, then don’t. You want to reach your goals, you want to succeed with your plan. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
When I am trying to convince myself I need a rest day (when I’m really just being lazy), I tell myself I’m just going to go for a walk. Or I’m just going to do one set, one round, whatever.
And EVERY TIME, I kid you not, by the time I’m done my walk or first set, I am energized and have convinced myself that I actually can do my workout according to plan.
It helps knowing, too, that you’ve created your plan based on your schedule, making sure it was reasonable and realistic for you to do. That way it’s hard to convince yourself that you’re NOT able to do it – this plan was made for you at your current level!
I hope this was helpful in creating a new workout schedule for yourself! If you need help making your plan, let me know and I’d be happy to help you make yours.
Soon I’ll dive into the science behind exercise selection and set/rep schemes!
I can’t wait to hear about all of the goals you crush this year!