How To Design An Effective Workout Routine

Learn how to design an effective workout routine.. If you’re..

How To Design An Effective Workout Routine

Learn how to design an effective workout routine..

If you’re reading this, it means you want to design a workout routine for yourself. Awesome!

And we’re not talking about just any workout routine here. No, we’re talking about designing the most effective, most efficient, fastest working, maximum results producing workout routine possible.

You know, the one that will work best for you, your body, your experience level, your preferences, your schedule, and of course… your specific weight training goal.

To do this, we’re going to walk through all of the crucial steps and components of workout routine design and put every single aspect together as optimally as possible.

workout routine

Here’s how…

The 7 Steps of Workout Routine Design

To bring your ideal workout routine to life, we’re going to take the following steps:

1. Figure out your goal and training status.

Before you can do anything, you need to decide why you’re working out. Meaning,

what’s your specific goal?

Building muscle?

Losing fat?

Increasing strength?

Getting “toned?”

Whatever it is, you need to know it beforehand. You also need to know what your training status is… beginner, intermediate or advanced.

Many aspects of your workout routine will need to be tailored to your exact goal and experience level in order to be as effective as possible.

2. Figure out your ideal weight training frequency.

Workout frequency refers not only to how often you’ll work out, but also how often you’ll work out each muscle group, body part and/or movement pattern over the course of a week.

Here is a simple guide to how often a beginner should train:

Warm Up Your Muscles

When a beginner get to the gym, he often starts his workout with cold muscles. However,it’s very important to warm up before starting your workout. 

Warming up will help you increase the blood flow to the muscles and more importantly, it will help you prevent injuries. So if you’re doing bench press for example, you will have to warm up for 3-4 sets with no weights or light weights, in order to be ready to lift.

Get A Good Form Before Adding More Weights

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced in fitness, one basic principle you must keep in mind; you must always execute each movement with a good form. In the gym, you’ll see many people adding more weight, but doing exercises with a bad form. Don’t let your ego get ahead of you, it won’t help you achieve your fitness goals and it can lead to serious injuries.

Number Of Exercises Per Muscle Group

You should always focus on having at least 3 exercises per muscle group if you want to get some results. People in fitness often do 3-4 exercises, but if you lack of a certain muscle you can add more exercises.

Number Of Sets Per Exercise

The number of sets depends on your number of exercise you have in your workout and how you feel about it. 3-4 sets per exercise is good number in order to obtain this fit body!

workout routine

Rep Range For Muscle Growth And Definition

“Low rep range is for big muscles, high rep range is for lean muscles.” Neither of them is true, firstly because the size of your muscle mainly depends more on your nutrition than your workouts.
However, there is still a difference working with various rep range:

  • Strength – Low Rep Range (4-6 reps): Performing low reps with heavy weights will mainly focus on getting more strength. Having more strength will help you get better performance, which help to gain muscle mass. This rep range is often used by lifters who are in a bulking period.
  • Hypertrophy – Moderate Rep Range (8-12 reps and 12-15 for legs): Whether you want to tone your body or get bigger, this is the rep range you must aim for. Slow and controlled reps with moderate weights (75% of your one-rep max) is the key to obtain the best results.
  • Endurance – High Rep Range (12-15+ reps): Executing exercises with high reps can very difficult even if the weights are very light. People tend to think that it will help you get toned and lean muscle, which is not the reality. In order to make your muscles grow, you must lift at least lift 75 percent of your one-rep max (Moderate Rep Range). High rep range is more suited for people who need muscular endurance.
Rest Time Between Each Set And Exercise

Your body needs some rest time after each set to let your muscles recover. The best amount of rest time between your sets depends on how you’re training:Strength (4-6 reps): 2-5 minutes

Hypertrophy (8-12 reps): 1-2 minutes

Endurance (12-15+ reps): 30-45 seconds

For the beginner workout routine we will aim for 1-2 minutes between each set and 2-3 minutes after each exercise.

Focus On A Short And Intense Workout

You must never let your muscles become cold due to a long rest time. It’s important to always keep a certain intensity during your workout, so you can stay focused and build muscle.
“Less is more”.

I strongly recommend you to keep your workouts short; between 45 minutes and 1 hour. It’s always better to keep them short and intense than long and boring. If you don’t have enough energy, long workouts can lead to enter into a catabolic state (using muscle tissue as a source of energy -> muscle loss).

3. Choose a workout split that fits your ideal frequency AND schedule.

Once you’ve figured out what the ideal workout frequency is for you, the next step is to pick a workout split that not only allows for that ideal workout frequency to be reached, but a workout split that will fit perfectly within your daily/weekly schedule and life.

workout routine

3 Day Split Workout Routine

Do all sets in the order they are listed. Keep rests to under 2 minutes. Do dynamic stretches before you begin and static stretches at the end.

You don’t always have to stretch but it helps to do so. Do a warmup set before each exercise with about 40-60% of your regular set loads. 

The warmup set doesn’t count, so the 3 sets are regular sets at your regular load.

Mondays: Chest, Triceps, Abs

Chest

Bench press: 3 sets of 6-12 reps each

Incline Dumbbell press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Machine Flies: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Chest Dips: 3 sets of 8-16 reps ( feet behind, leaning over)

Triceps

Tricep extensions : 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Tricep Dips: 3 Sets of 8-12 reps ( feet in front of chest)

Dumbbell overhead tricep extensions: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Close grip bench press: 2 sets of 8-10 reps. ( elbows point forward, hands about 5 inches apart)

Abs

Hanging leg raises: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Ball Ab Crunches: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Decline situps: 3 sets of 8-16 reps

Wednesday: Back and Biceps 

Back

Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Deadlifts: 4 sets of 6-8 reps

Pullups: 4 sets to failure

Biceps

Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Barbell Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Close Grip Chinups: 4 sets of 8-10 reps

Friday: shoulders, legs, abs

Shoulders

Lateral Dumbbell Raises: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Military Press: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Cable Front raises: 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps

Dumbbell Seated shoulder press: 3 sets of 6-8 reps

Legs

Leg curls: 3 sets of 8-10 reps

Leg extension: 3 sets of 8-reps

Squats: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Calve raises: 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Abs:

situps: 3 sets of 8-12  (slow and controlled reps)

Ab crunches: 4 sets of 8-12 reps ( slow reps, use weights to make reps more difficult)

Leg raises: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

This muscle building workout will pack on the mass and it’s easy to follow.

Remember to use weights that you can only rep for the stated number of reps.

workout routine

4. Figure out your ideal weight training intensity.

Workout intensity basically refers to how hard you’re going to be working.

Meaning, how much weight will you be lifting, how heavy or light is that weight for you, and how many reps will you be able to lift it for?

More Sets

The first and most obvious way to increase intensity is to add more sets. Sounds simple, right? Well remember this:

For every extra set you add, you lengthen your overall training time.

Longer and longer training sessions will tap deeper and deeper into your body’s recuperative powers. So while it’s fine to add an additional set here and there, avoid falling into the trap of performing too many sets.

Cheating

Maybe you cheated on your diet last week, but there’s little room for cheating in the weight room. However, if used correctly, cheating can help you increase intensity. You should perform cheat techniques only after you’ve performed as many reps as you possibly can with proper form.

For example, do as many barbell curls (using strict form) as you can until exhaustion. Now, using the combined strength of your legs, back and shoulders, heave the weight up.

Though the stress is now dispersed throughout your entire body, you can still work the biceps.

One important note you should be aware of: Using cheat techniques from the first rep will only take stress off of the target muscle, leading to stalled progress and possible injury.

Negative Emphasis

When lowering a weight in an exercise (the negative portion of the exercise), lower it very slowly. As you do, count out to six, for example.

Here’s what I mean: when performing a bench press, count from one to six slowly as you begin lowering the weight.

The bar should hit your chest only when you reach the number six.

Though emphasizing the negative will greatly reduce the amount of weight you can use, your target muscle works harder, which ultimately means better gains. Less weight, more gains.

Forced Reps

With forced reps, you’re literally forcing your body to squeeze out additional reps with the assistance of a spotter.

The point here is simple: YOU should be working out, not your partner. The spotter should only help you complete the final rep or two of a set.

Drop Sets

Like forced reps, drop sets allow you to squeeze a little more intensity out of your tanks. As you reach failure on a particular set, strip some weight from the bar, and continue doing reps.

Drop sets allow you to fatigue muscle fibers which may have been missed during the regular set.

Rep Schemes

One of the constants in weight training is variety. Don’t let your body stagnate by doing the same exercises in the same order with the same number of reps.

For instance, if you traditionally use higher reps, try using lower reps.

This isn’t to say lower reps are better, only that change is good. Variety is the spice of life.

Exercise Schemes

On a similar note, try replacing one exercise for another. For example, if you typically do barbell seated presses, try replacing them with dumbbell seated presses.

By constantly rotating exercises, you can stay physically and mentally challenged. Your training program should be like a riddle. Keep your body guessing at all times and watch it grow.

Specialization 

Specialization is a way to spur a body part that is lagging. If your delt progress is falling behind your triceps, add some new delt exercises, additional sets or other intensity methods to bring your shoulders up to par. 

workout routine

5. Figure out your ideal weight training volume.

Workout volume refers to the amount of work you’ll be doing. As in, how many exercises, sets and reps will you do per muscle group, per workout, and per week?

The benefit of low volume training

The first thing you should know about low volume training is that it’s not for beginners. Beginners lack overall control over their bodies.

Working up to a 3 rep max is dangerous and useless at this point, their muscles just won’t work effectively under that intensity.

However, high intensity can be good for an intermediate and beyond. The higher intensity will force you to put more emphasis on technique. As an intermediate, you will be able to apply more nuanced technique and technical failures (where and how your technique breaks down) will reveal your weaknesses.

Having this knowledge will let you take all your lifts to the next level once everything gets worked out.

The benefit of high volume training

Higher training volume is also great for the intermediate, it builds a wider base for you to grow upon; increasing your lifting capacity and ability to focus under fatigue.

So where does the beginner stand?

In my opinion, the beginner can make the most out of their newbie gains in the middle ground, focusing on the major lifts and working with reps of five. This method has stood the test of time for decades.

How to use high volume and low volume training

Low volume training is great for cutting where the training goal is just to maintain strength. You will need a calorie surplus to make high volume training work.

The calorie surplus will depend on your program. A 20 rep squat program will be very calorie demanding while a regular bodybuilding split will not require a big surplus at the intermediate level and beyond.

Another way to use the two styles of training is to cycle them. Start with a higher volume and ramp up the intensity from week to week until you hit a new 2-3 rep max before repeating the cycle with a higher weight.

Intermediate to advanced routines all cycle through intensity and volume so that you work with a wider spectrum for optimal growth.

6. Choose your exercises and properly implement them.

Once you know how much volume you’ll be doing, the next step is to select the exercises that are most ideal for you and then properly implement those exercise into your workout routine. 

You will need to incorporate this with your goals whether its fat loss, strength training or general muscle building.

You will need to select exercises that best suite your goals e.g if your strength training the best exercises for you to focus on will be:

  1. Deadlift 
  2. Bench Press 
  3. Squat

So select the best exercise that suite your training goals…..

7. Make sure it works.

This final step involves bringing the 6 previous steps together along with the remaining requirements that must be in place in order for it all to work.

Specifically, some form of progression and a diet plan that supports your goals.


Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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