Disclaimer

Writing exercise programs is a mixture between science, guesswork and good judgement.  This article is kept simple, so you don’t get lost in the details so you can concentrate on getting results.

Please consult your doctor if you’re starting an exercise program after a long break or have any health or orthopedic concerns.

Long before I was fitness professional, I’d follow exercise programs I’d ripped out from glossy men’s magazines because I thought

  • They knew what they were doing
  •  I was hoping this would transform me from a geek to a freak

And like Dr. Phil used to say, ‘How’s that working out for you?’

It didn’t, Dr. Phil, it didn’t.

What I didn’t consider is what works for the guys on the covers doesn’t necessarily work for you or me because we all have different starting points, genetics and reactions to exercise.

The people on the front covers are in great shape to start with and most likely didn’t do the program they’re advertising.  

They just rocked up to the photo shoot looking awesome.

However, having an exercise program ripped out of a magazine is better than having no plan at all because going to the gym without a clue is not the best idea and can lead to some unusual behavior.   

Nonetheless, you’re better than that. You don’t need to blindly follow the masses. All you need to do after reading this, put your thinking cap on for a minute or two and then you’ll be writing your exercise program that will get you great results without the need for google or me. ☹

The Questions

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of writing your exercise program, it’s time to answer a few questions.  

What is your goal?

You’ll start by choosing one goal. You can chase more than one, but it will take you longer to achieve both.

However, you’re more likely to have more success if you stick to one goal

Please decide if your goal is fat loss, hypertrophy or getting back into shape after a long break.

Take a moment to decide this before you read on. This has a huge bearing on the exercise program you’ll write.

How many days a week can you exercise?

For better results, set aside at least 3 days a week for lifting weights. Exercising 3 days a week is ideal when doing full body trainings below.

How much time can you dedicate to each training session?

You need to look at your schedule and decide how much time you can dedicate to your exercise program. Because this is going to dictate the length and intensity of your program. 

How advanced are you?

This will determine the exercises you’ll program into the templates below. Because

you don’t want to pick exercises that are too difficult or too easy. Going too hard may lead to injury and too easy will lead to a lack of results.

If you’re unsure on how advanced you are, be cautious and take a step back before moving on to a more advanced version of an exercise. For example, instead of a bent over barbell row, start with a seat row.

Answering the above questions honestly will help you stick with your program and allow you to get the results you deserve because you’ll have some skin in the game.

The Exercises

To keep things simple, you’ll be concentrating on the six fundamental human movements that works all the muscles in the body from head to toe. These movements are

  1. Squat
  2. Pulls
  3. Pushes
  4. Hinge
  5. Lunges
  6. Carrying something heavy
The Templates
Fat Loss training

After your warmup, you’ll start with a strength exercise, lifting a heavier weight for lower repetitions to help you retain muscle and strength while you’re cutting calories.

You’ll alternate between an upper and lower body strength exercise on each training day. 

Then you will go into a 5-exercise circuit alternating between lower and upper body with minimal rest between exercises to maximize calorie burn. Please allow 24-28 hours of recovery between trainings for best results.

Instructions
Training 1

Complete 8 reps (select a weight and exercise that allows you to do 8 repetitions with good form) of each exercise 2A-2D in a circuit fashion. If you’re performing unilateral exercises, do 8 reps on each side.

For farmer’s walk, walk 20 yards and then walk back for 20 yards for a total of 40 yards. Use at least 25% of your bodyweight in each hand.

Each set will take you 1 minute to complete and each circuit 5 minutes to finish. Rest 90 seconds after each circuit and do a total of 2-4 circuits.

Training 2

Choose a lighter weight than training one and don’t do any unilateral exercises. Do as many repetitions of each exercise 2A-2D in 30 seconds with good form. Rest for 30 seconds at the end of each exercise.   

And for the farmer’s walk, walk 20 yards and then walk back for 20 yards for a total of 40 yards. Rest 2 minutes at the end of each circuit and do a total of 3 circuits.

Training 3

Do 15 reps of each exercise of 2A-2D in a circuit fashion. For the farmer’s walk, walk 20 yards there and back for a total of 40 yards. Rest as little as possible between exercises and rest 1 minute at the end of each circuit. Do a total of 2-3 circuits.

1. Strength exercise (Squat, push, pull or hinge) 3-5 sets, 80-90% 1 RM 3-6 reps 2 minutes rest between sets.

2A. Squat variation

2B. Pull variation

2C. Hinge or lunge variation

2D. Push variation

2E. Carry variation

Building muscle

Hypertrophy requires you to lift moderate to heavy weights for reps which causes muscular stress and damage. But building muscle doesn’t tickle and you need to put your hard hat on and go to work.

You’re doing straight sets for strength work to prime your body to build muscle and then supersets to help maximize muscle growth.  You’ll alternate between training A and training B for 3-4 days a week.

How many sets you’ll do of each superset will be depend on how much time you have.  

Instructions

After your warm up, you’ll do strength exercise and you’ll use a weight that leaves a rep or two in reserve. If you need more rest between sets, please take it. With the supersets exercises please use a weight that allows you to complete all the repetitions with good form. 

If you went heavy with the squat, do a hinge exercise for 2A and vice versa. And if you performed an upper body pull

Please rest for 24-48 hours between trainings.

Training A

1. Strength exercise (Squat or hinge) 3-5 sets 3-6 reps and resting 2 minutes between sets.

2A.  Squat or hinge variation 8-12 reps

2B.  Pull variation 12-15 reps

3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

3A. Split squat or lunge variation 12 reps on each leg

3B.  Press variation 8-12 reps

3-4 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

4A. Pull variation (different from 2B) 8-12 reps

4B. Push variation (different from 3B) 8-12 reps

2-3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

The next superset is optional depended the time you have.  Choose a body part that needs extra work and hit it with a superset.

5A.  Isolation exercise (bicep curl, triceps, shoulders, legs, hips etc.) 8-15 reps

5B.  Isolation exercise 8-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60 seconds rest between each superset.

Training B

1. Strength exercise (Upper body push or a pull) 3- 5 sets 3-6 reps and rest 2 minutes between sets.

2A. Squat variation 6-8 reps

2B.  Pull or pull variation 6-8 reps (dependent on the strength exercise)

3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

3A. Hinge variation 12-15 reps

3B. Push variation 6-8 reps

3-4 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

4A. Farmers carry variation 40 yards

4B. Pull or push variation (different from 2 and 3) 12-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60-90 seconds rest between supersets

This superset is optional, if you have the time. Choose a body part that needs the extra work and hit with a superset.

5A.  Isolation exercise (biceps, triceps, shoulders, quads etc.) 8-15 reps

5B.  Isolation exercise 8-15 reps

2-3 sets with 60 seconds rest between each superset.

Getting back into shape

If it’s been a while since you’ve darkened the doors of a gym, your body needs to get accustomed to lifting weights. This means more repetitions, less resistance and incorporating some core and stretching exercises to help your body move better.

You’ll be doing tri-sets (3 exercises back to back) of 2 strength exercises, followed by a stretch. And then you’ll go through this again and do a core exercise. If you this again for a 3rd time (dependent on time) you’ll choose between a stretch or a core exercise.

You will train 3 days a week with 48 hrs. rest between sessions.

Instructions
Training 1

Do 15 reps of exercises 1A – 2B with a weight that allows you to complete each repetition with good form. For the standing single arm cable row, do 15 reps on each arm. For the farmer’s walk, do a total of 40 yards.

Training 2

Do 12 reps of exercises 1A – 2B and select a weight 5 pounds heavier than day 1. For the standing single arm cable row, do 12 reps on each arm. For the farmer’s walk, do a total of 30 yards.

Training 3

Do 10 reps of exercises 1A – 2B with a weight that allows you to complete each repetition with good form. For the standing single arm cable row, do 10 on each arm. For the farmer’s walk, do a total of 20 yards.

Note- Choose a stretch that works on the tighter areas of the body, like the hips, chest, hamstrings and biceps.

1A. Squat variation

1B. Pulling variation

1C. Stretch:   30 seconds         Core:  Plank variation                                          

2-3 sets with 60 seconds rest between each superset.

2A. Hinge variation

2B. Pushing variation

2C. Stretch:  30 seconds          Core: Farmers carry variation 

2- 3 sets with 60 seconds rest between each superset.

Wrapping up

Do the training of your choice for 6 weeks in total. And you need more than 48 hours to recover between trainings, take it. and if the weight becomes less challenging, go up by 5 pounds.

So, don’t hold yourself back, because you’re too good for that. 

If you need any help with writing your own exercise program, please contact me here.

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