If you have been working out for a while, you have probably used lots of different workout routines. While some might have worked for you, some have not worked at all or left you in a training rut. All workout routines are not one size fits all. What works for you might not work for me. But one thing is certain, you can always build a well-customized routine for yourself since you are the only one that knows how your body responds to exercises, reps, and training styles. And here are 6 steps to help you do that:
Step 1: Determine your workout schedule
Your first step is to determine how many days and what specific days of the week you will be able to workout. Are you going to be able to workout 3 times? 4 times? More? Less? Are there specific days you can workout on and specific days you can’t workout at all?These are the things you need to address to determine your workout schedule. In general, most people workout between 3 to 5 days per week but there are also people who workout 6 to 7 days per week. How many days per week you workout depends on your goal and personal schedule.
Step 2: Determine your workout split and frequency
Once you have established your workout schedule, your next step is to determine your workout split and training frequency. More precisely, what specific body part you are going to work on what day(s) and how often are you going to train that body part per week. The workout split you choose must allow you to reach the training frequency that is best for your specific goal and experience level. Meaning, do you need a split that allows you to train each muscle group once per week, twice per week or 3 times per week? For example, if strength or size is your goal, your training split should allow you a training frequency of 1-2 times per week to give the muscle ample time to recover from the volume to grow bigger and stronger.
Step 3: Pick your exercises and exercise order
In choosing exercises to include in your routine, you should pick exercises and exercise order that best allows you to reach the goal you are after in the gym. For example, if your goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth), then compound or multi-joint exercises such as squat and bench press should be performed first in your workout before single-joint or isolation exercises such as leg extensions and cable crossover. Compound moves engage the most muscle mass and allow you to use the heaviest weights first in your workout when your energy levels are the high, thus allowing you to build muscle mass. On the other hand, if muscular endurance is your goal – ability to work over a period of time, with gains in power and muscle mass being secondary – then exercises with moderate weight and long reps should be your focus.
Step 4: Pick your sets, reps, weights, and rest time
Not only choosing the right exercise for your goal is crucial, but so is selecting the proper sets, reps, weights, and rest time. Depending on your goals, the number of sets that you do per muscle and the total sets per workout should vary from 3-24 and 10-40, respectively. In terms of the numbers of reps you do per set, the general guideline is as follow: If you want to gain strength, your reps should be kept between 1 to 6 reps. If hypertrophy is your goal then your reps should vary between 8 to 12 reps. Finally if getting lean is your objective, shoot for reps in the 12-20 range. Similarly, for the weight you should use the guidelines is: if Strength is your focus, then go with a weight that causes muscle failure at 6 or fewer reps. To target hypertrophy or optimal muscle growth focus on weights that allow you to reach muscle failure with the 8-12 rep range. As for your rest time, the best estimate is to take as much time as necessary to catch your breath before your next set but as a general rule rest times between 1 to 2 minutes are recommended for strength training and about 30 seconds for endurance training.
Step 5: Build in variety
Since a great workout stops being so great after about eight weeks, when your body has adapted to it, variety has to be built into your routine to prevent plateaus. There are many different ways to add varieties to your workout routine.For example try a four-day split for a few months, then switch to a five-day split, and so on. Furthermore, you could experiment with different grouping and pairings of body parts in your routine. For example, you could do a four-day split for four weeks but change muscle pairings while staying on the same split. Doing so, you’ll provide your muscles with the constant variety they need for continual gains in size and strength.
Step 6: Add intensity boosters
Doing straight sets all the time won’t be enough to get the most out of the muscle no matter of many of them you perform. With intensity boosters, you can add variety, work past the point of muscle failure, and intensify the burn by adding a number of properly applied high-intensity techniques. There are several high-intensity techniques you add to your routine, including drop sets, negatives and forced reps with the aid of a training partner, but you can be creative and use others to help shock the muscle.