Whether you are the new guy (or girl) at the gym, there is no question that the amount of information out there on workout routines can be quite overwhelming. So, I figured that instead of writing down my routine (one of many), or throwing together some cookie-cutter type workout program, that I would instead lay down some general information to give you a starting point to creating your own routine (sounds fun right?).
1) Choose your goal:
Do you want to get stronger? Lose fat? Build muscle? These are all questions you have to ask yourself before moving forward with creating your own program.
2) Choose your split:
The next thing that you should do is decide how many days a week you want to work out and what muscles you want to work out on those days. Here are a few examples:
Monday: Chest and Triceps
Tuesday: Back and Biceps
Saturday & Sunday: Rest
Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower body
Thursday: Upper body
Friday: Lower body
Saturday & Sunday: Rest
Here is my current split:
Tuesday: Chest and Back
Wednesday: Arms and
Friday: Chest and Back
Saturday: Arms and
There are thousands upon thousands of different ways to pair muscles together, and it differs for everyone. Some people need lots of rest and some people (like me) find themselves needing no full rest day. The only way to figure this out is to try different splits.
3) Choose your exercises:
This one is tricky because everyone is different. Some people have injuries, some have motion issues and some respond better to different exercises. I am going to trust that you know your limits and simply speak from my wealth of knowledge about what I have found works best for me.
First, start with compound movements.
A compound movement is an exercise that uses more than one joint and recruits multiple muscles. Examples of compound movements would be the squat, the bench press, pull-ups and of course the ever so famous deadlift. By recruiting more muscles and muscle fibers, these movements make your body work harder and should be the staple in your workouts.
Second, isolate the muscle.
Yes, compound movements are king in any program, but isolating the muscle is just as important, especially if we are trying to sculpt a statue-like physique. Examples of isolation exercises would be bicep curls, tricep push-downs, dumbbell chest flies and so on. Remember to try different exercises and to switch up your exercise selection to keep your muscles guessing and growing.
4) Choose the correct set and rep range.
Once you have your split and exercises selected, sets and reps are the next step. Here is a quick description of different rep ranges.
Strength: 3-5 reps
Hypertrophy (muscle building): 6-12 reps
Muscular endurance: 15 or more reps.
I tend to always stay in the heavy end of the hypertrophy rep range (6-8 reps) for my compound movements and then move up to the higher end (10-12 reps) for my isolation exercises. If you are feeling adventurous start off your compound movements in the 3-5 rep range and get strong! How many sets you should do is the easy part. I always do four sets for each exercise, unless I am doing strength, for which I bring it up to 5-8 sets since the reps are so low. Play around with everything and don’t be afraid to adjust to what your body wants!
5) How many exercises for each muscle?
If you are just starting out I would try 12 total sets for the big muscles like back, chest and legs and 6-8 sets for arms and shoulders. Let’s say you are doing a back workout: this means that you could do three different exercises for four sets each to total 12 sets, or four exercises for three sets each. For biceps you could do two exercises for 3-4 sets or three exercises for two sets each.