One of the biggest factors contributing to the success of a fitness program is proper planning. Anyone can get online, search Father Google, and download a "4 Week Transformation" workout plan in a matter of seconds. The hard part is figuring out whether that plan is really going to get you the results you're looking for with the resources and time you have available.
This is where I feel that hiring a personal trainer can have the most benefit. Matching your goals to your lifestyle and schedule is where the experts really come into play. However, the reality is that most people don't have the budget or time to seek out a professional. So, I’m going to give you a quick rundown on how to program your own workout plan to get some results!
The very first thing you need to do before starting any fitness program is to be realistic about the amount of time you have or are willing to spend on your training. Someone who can only fit a workout in 2-3 days a week probably shouldn't be trying a workout built into a 5 day split. If you only have 30 minutes a day to spare, then a workout that cycles through 10-12 exercises is probably not going to be realistic to complete within that time frame.
Picking a program that does not fit your lifestyle is setting yourself up for failure. Workouts will seem like more of a chore and the frustration can make sticking with the program seem impossible. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you even get started!
Here's a general guide on how to program your workouts based on how many days a week you plan to commit:
Full Body workouts
Concentrate on compound exercises that hit all main muscle groups
Upper body/ Lower body workout split
Do 2 days of each workout a week, alternating days
Push/Pull/Legs - do each workout 2 days a week
Push/Pull/ Upper/Lower/ Legs - do each workout 1 day a week
Lift + Cardio - 3-4 lifting days a week with 2 cardio days mixed in
You will see a lot of “bodybuilding” plans that show a 5-6 day split utilizing single body part workouts. Not only is this not the most time efficient way to workout, but for someone who is simply looking to lose weight and build lean muscle, these types of workouts are not as effective. No matter how many days/minutes/hours a week you have, I would recommend making an effort to hit each muscle group at least twice a week.
There you have it - Workout Programming 101.
Set your goals, be realistic about your expectations, and make sure to pick a program that sets you up for success!
Questions or interested in getting a custom program built for you? Check out my workout page to see what I can offer!