Helping develop a training plan

Build Your Own Workout Program Today!

There are tons of free workout plans out there for you to choose from. Some of them are great, some are sufficient, most of them are absolute garbage. The problem with free plans is that they are incredibly general for the most part and none of them are tailored to your goals. What you find for free can get you going and keep you moving for a while, but until you either hire someone to tailor build them for you or you learn how to build a workout plan that is suited to your goals

So, at risk of losing out on clients I am going to teach you how to build your own program. Why? Because my goal with clients is never to keep them paying forever. My entire goal is to teach you how to do these things yourself so that you stick around as long as you need to and then go out on your on and continue to thrive. The whole ‘teach a man to fish’ thing.

Who’s This for?

Whether you’re an absolute beginner who doesn’t know a dumbbell from a doorbell, or someone who has dabbled without much progress this guide is for you! Those a little more advanced might even find something in here that is helpful. How to build a workout plan is something everyone should know!

Why Should You Customize a Workout Program?

Now, why should you bother doing all the extra work? Isn’t it easier to just follow premade workout programs or hire the grumpy trainer from the commercial gym down the road who screams “10 more reps!” at you the whole time?

For some people, sure. It’s easy to take the premade route, but will that plan fit you and your goals? Probably not! Everyone’s goals, body types, and ability levels are different! A pre-made plan you found online written 10 years ago for Men’s Fitness or whatever you see online about how so-and-so did to build their physique for Superman is most likely not something that will get you anywhere.

Identifying what brings you one step closer to your goal body is what tailoring your workout program is all about! The perfect fit can help lead you to the perfect result. Knowing how to build a workout plan that suits you and is customized to you is important.

What’s in Store?

Hopefully, by the endo of reading this you’ll be armed with an idea on how to do this yourself. You’ll know how to create a workout program that’s as unique as you, that fits you, and makes achieving your goals feel good.

Get ready to dive in! It’s time we decode the hard at first topic of crafting your own EFFECTIVE workout programs!

Building Your Blueprint

Before you jump into building something there is some information you need to gather about yourself and about goal setting .

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Know Thyself

First up, it’s your body. No one knows it better than you. Are you petite? Blocky? Chubby? Lean? Muscular? Shaped like a pear, either upside down or downside up? Every body type and starting place means a different approach to workouts. Some people gain quickly and are slow to lose, other people lose quickly but seemingly cannot put on muscle. Some people are stiff and need to work on their mobility while others are incredibly limber but can’t lift the bar. Your body type is not just about how you look, but also about how your body works, reacts to different workouts, and even how quickly you reach your fitness goals!

Your current level of your fitness also plays a role in what kind of program you build and what works for you. Are you a couch potato, sort of active, or do you already run around quite a bit? Your fitness level and body type stacked with goals will help you find a great starting point.

If a workout is too hard you won’t do it. That’s just reality. If it’s too easy you won’t make any progress. That is also reality. Knowing how to build a workout plan will bring a good balance of being hard enough to make some sort of progress while also not being so hard that you give up.

Setting ‘SMART’ Fitness Goals

Planning to have your dream body overnight is nonsense. I know that the world wants instant gratification, but that just doesn’t happen here. It’s impossible! Even the people who buy their dream bodies don’t get the whole package and still need to go through days/weeks/months of recovery and risk complications either during the process or down the line.

Ab implants, bicep fillers, fake this or that. They generally don’t look real and besides, even if you look like you can bench a house or that you spend hours in the gym working on yourself it’s all an illusion if you purchase it. Implants and fillers don’t do anything for actual strength and can wear off/down. And you’d still get winded walking down the stairs even if you look good if you don’t put in the actual work.

Instead, let’s aim for SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In a nutshell, be precise, check progress, have reachable goals, make them relate to your life, and set a deadline!

A solid goal for most people is to start at east six months out from when you want to reach most goals, especially as a beginner. Even professionals take months of prep before shows and have been at it for literal years.

Doctor’s Check Up – Not To Be Missed

You wouldn’t take your ’99 Honda and put it in a car race without at least a tune up and having a mechanic check it out. Yes, that was aimed at people born “in the 1900s’s” as my kids say. We are old. We can’t jump into things like we used to. That’s just the harsh reality. Go to the doctor. Get checked out. Make sure you aren’t going to fall over during a run.

Even you young bucks who think you are invincible. you aren’t. I’ve been where you are and you can still be injured or have underlying problems that you are unaware of. And all my experiences were before the massive rise in ‘rare’ issues people under 30 are having in the past few years. Go get looked at.

Workout Types

At risk of sounding like an NPC and referencing superheroes I am going to do it. Don’t judge me too harshly. Batman needs gadgets to fight crime, right? Different tools for different situations you know. Likewise, we need different types of exercises for different goals. You aren’t going to shoot hoops and think that you are on the way to Olympia. Some exercises are great for strength training, others for cardio. Some are great for mobility work.

Strength Training

The Venice Beach gym or pictures of Arnold in his prime are probably what you think of when strength training is mentioned. You don’t have to be enormous to do it, and, in fact, most people are not. Strength training builds lean mass (muscle).

Weights and resistance builds your muscles, how big and how quickly they grow is generally dependent on how you train.

Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular (or cardio) training is something that is great for your heart and cardiovascular system! These workouts, like running, swimming, burpees, rowing, etc. make your heart race, which improve your overall ability to pump blood around your body. That means higher levels of nutrients and oxygen flowing through those veins which result in generally higher levels of energy, faster recovery, healthier heart, and other positive effects!

Flexibility and Mobility Training

Everyone wants to move more easily. As we age muscles and joints get tight. Backs start to hurt. It’s harder/slower to get out of bed in the morning. How can we slow down the natural decline we all go through with joint pain, random aches, and inflexibility? Mobility and flexibility work. Yoga and Pilates are the big names here, but static and dynamic stretching helps as well.

Balanced Programming

When you mix strength, cardio, and flexibility training you get a balanced workout regimen. How much and how often you include each one depends on your goals, where you are currently, how experienced you are, and if you have any specific conditions you need to be careful with.

Workout Split Varieties

There are quite a few different ways to build a program. As with anything else, the split best for you is dependent on the goals you have set, timelines, body type, etc. An additional variable applies here as well: Availability.

How often can you dedicate to workouts? Is it once a day? Twice a week? Can you do some sort of exercise 4/5/6 days a week? The more often you can exercise the more progress you are going to make, but it is obviously not possible for everyone to hit the gym 6 days a week.

Full Body

The Full Body split has its place. It’s great for beginners or those who haven’t worked out seriously in a while. It’s also great for those on a time crunch or those looking for something to do with generally minimal equipment. Basically, you hit one or two muscles from every major muscle group during a single workout.

This split usually focuses on compound exercises for the most part in order to get the most bang for your buck.

Upper/Lower Split

The Upper/Lower Split divides your muscles into two groups: the Upper Body and the Lower Body. Obviously.

Each workout will focus on either upper body muscles or lower, which means you can do a few more exercises targeting each area per workout.


The Push/Pull/Legs split is kind of like the upper/lower split but it further breaks muscle groups into more categories. In a Push/Pull/Legs split you will have:

  • Push days for “push-away” exercises like push-ups
  • Pull days for “pull-towards” exercises like rows
  • Legs days for everything your legs do for you.

Bro Splits

The Bro Split. If I were to rank splits from most effective to least, the bro split would be at the bottom. For many reasons.

This split dedicates separate days to each muscle group. You will get one day for arms, legs, chest, back, and shoulders per week, which doesn’t allow for the recommended two-three times plus per week of training for each muscle group.

3, 4, or 5-Day Splits

Alternatively, you can build a program that focuses on 3, 4, or 5-Day Splits. The more days you workout, the more variety you can have. With a 3, 4, or 5 day split you add in workouts that target each muscle group 2-3 times per week and group different muscles together for a session.

Out of all the splits listed, this is generally the most effective.

Different Workouts for Different Goals

Where you want to go is going to dictate what kind of program you follow. You wouldn’t enroll as a history major if you wanted to get better at cybersecurity.

You also wouldn’t want to do a powerlifting program if you wanted to do a bodybuilding competition (usually). Most likely, you don’t want to join a bodybuilding program if you are into Crossfit. And you definitely don’t want to do powerlifting or bodybuilding programs if you are into marathons.

So, let’s talk about some different types of programs.

Bodybuilding / Hypertrophy

Bodybuilding / Hypertrophy programs are aimed at trying to become as big as possible. The workouts are primarily aimed at growing size, not necessarily strength (even though strength does come with size).

You can tell it is a bodybuilding program based on reps, how much weight is used, and rest periods.

Generally, a bodybuilding, or hypertrophy, program has a lot of sets / reps included for each muscle group each week. Total volume grows size. They usually have anywhere between 6 – 15 reps per set and stick between 60-80 percent of your 1RM for each lift.


Powerlifting is all about getting stronger! Unlike bodybuilding which focuses on size, powerlifting wants you to lift as much as possible despite your size.

These programs focus on three main exercises: squats, bench press, and deadlift.

A powerlifting program will usually revolve around those movements and making them as big as possible. Rest periods are extended and sets are focused on max power output instead of volume, so you will see 1-5 reps per set and fewer overall sets each week compared to what Ronnie Coleman would do in his prime.


CrossFit mixes cardio, weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in one workout. It’s all about improving your speed, strength, stamina, and everything in between.

It’s different than bodybuilding or powerlifting because it focuses on functional fitness rather than size or power. The idea behind Crossfit is helping you be better at everyday movements and better mobility.

You will probably see a mix of high intensity exercises stacked with weight training or bodyweight movements in a circuit during a typical crossfit workout.


Endurance programs help you build your stamina up and train your muscles to work for a longer time. This is the realm of distance runners.

If your goal is to run marathons, half marathons, 5k’s, join a rowing team, ruck for miles on end, or anything in between, or just want to be able to take the stairs without getting winded, this is probably where you want to focus your time.

A typical endurance program has a lot of cardio involved with very little resistance training.

General Fitness

General fitness is it’s own thing. You workout to feel better, be healthier, and just general well-being. It’s a mix of everything: cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance.

There is no priority here other than to just be healthier. Most people are on a general fitness program.

Scheduling Workouts: How Often Should You Hit The Gym?

Finding the perfect workout schedule is a big deal! Here’s the rule of thumb for most people:

☑️ Beginners: Aim for 2-3 days of exercise each week. Too much too quickly can destroy your motivation. Plus, you will be sore. Don’t overdo it and stick with what you can do for the first few months.

☑️More Experienced: Aim for around 3-5 days per week. Once you get used to working out increase the amount of days you hit those sessions. The more you work each muscle group, or the more endurance work you do each week, the faster you will reach your goals.

But don’t forget, your body needs rest too. Make sure you give your body a break to rest and recover. 7 day a week workouts can actually cause burnout. Schedule those rest days in.

How Long Should Your Workouts Be?

As a rule, the answer to that question is a very vague, “as long as it takes.” That does NOT mean you need to spend 3 hours in the gym, even though sometimes you might. It also doesn’t mean you can always be done with a workout in twenty minutes.

Here’s what you need to know:

☑️For most workouts, 45 minutes to an hour is just right. Not too short, not too long! Get in, get the work done, and get out.

☑️For more intense workouts, like Crossfit, 15-30 minutes is usually plenty.

It’s not how long you are at the gym, but how much work you get accomplished. Stop being busy for the sake of being busy. Get in, do the work, and get out.

Being at the gym for 3 hours just to say you spent 3 hours at the gym doesn’t impress anyone. Results do.

Choosing Appropriate Exercises

Choosing the right exercises is dependent on goal, current fitness level, and schedule. There’s no wrong choice as long as you pick things that will get you where you want to go.

Goals Matter: Different goals need different exercises. Want to be stronger or bigger? Go for weightlifting. Want more stamina? Try aerobic exercises. Want to move better? Go for functional movements.

Listen to Your Body: Your fitness level today is your starting point. Start with exercises that feel possible for you to do today and to keep doing. Upgrade as you get stronger.

Building a Progressive Program

No, a progressive program doesn’t mean you have to die your hair wild colors that generally imply you are toxic and tell other people to stay away.

It means you progressively make them harder over time to keep the challenge alive and keep the progress coming.

Most people stagnate because they mess up on this part of building a program, and that causes them to become demotivated and fall off, so take this part seriously.

Introduction to Progression: The Importance of Challenging Your Body

You don’t want to get bored and you don’t want to plateau. Challenging your body during workouts is important so you can avoid those things. Different weights, exercises, volumes, rest periods, or a combination of them can all make your workouts progressively harder.

Methods of Progression

There are three main ways to level up your workout:

  • Increasing Volume: Higher volume means doing more exercises, reps, or sets.
  • Increasing Intensity: Intensity refers to how challenging the exercises are. Add more weight, change the movements, or shorten the rest time.
  • Increasing Frequency: Higher frequency means working out more often, like going from 3 days a week to 4 or 5.

Of course, you can also combo those options if you would like.

You might not need to adjust every week. If something is hard enough, keep it where it is until it isn’t. Some people stick with the same weight for weeks/months before moving on. That’s OK.

Understanding and Managing Plateaus

Sometimes, you might hit a plateau. Your progress pauses or might even go backwards. You may even roughly follow the five stages of grief. First, you deny it. The you get angry, followed by depression, and then you accept that you are stuck, get demotivated, and either try to hard you hurt yourself or you quit. Obviously that’s bad.

So, how can we crank the music back up and get back on track?

  • Mix and Match: Switch up your exercises, volume, intensity and even rest time! Your body gets used to a certain routine so you need to change it up in order to throw your body for a loop.
  • Rest and Recover: Sometimes, more isn’t the answer. If swapping it up isn’t working and you haven’t taken an off period for a while, rest. Our bodies need rest, like naps after a long day. Let your muscles relax and recharge.

Progression is never-ending. Keep challenging your body, and watch how high you can go.

Tuning Your Program

No plan survives first contact with the enemy, right? Same thing applies here. Whatever you build will eventually need a little fine-tuning to avoid stagnation and plateaus.

When and How to Adjust

We adjust our clothes as we grow, right? You need to adjust your workout program as you get stronger.

After every 4-6 weeks of the same routine, it might be time for some tweaks. You probably want to build an entirely new program every 8-10 weeks as well.

Think about upping the volume, the intensity, or changing the exercises. Set up mini cycles for your programming that will bring you to smaller goals, accomplish them, and adjust your program as you meet them.

Importance of Listening to Your Body and Analyzing Your Progress

Your body speaks a secret language if you listen. It tells you if you’re feeling tired, energetic, or somewhere in the middle.

Its messages help you adjust your workouts. If you’re tired, take it easy. If you’re full of energy, crank up the workout intensity! Always remember to respect your body’s feelings. Just like we listen to our best friends!

Knowing the difference between “I didn’t sleep well” and “I am exhausted and need to take a break” is enormous. Likewise, there is a difference between, “That hurt” and “I’m injured.”

Listen to your body, learn from it, and adjust where needed. It’s a skill most people do not have. Discomfort doesn’t always mean stop and tired doesn’t always mean to skip. It’s a thing you need to learn if you want to make solid progress.

The Workout Diary or App

Tracking your progress in a workout diary or an app is like writing your story. You record what you do each workout, how you felt, and what you accomplished. Write down how much weight you used, how hard it was, and if you felt like you can go heavier next week.

Over time, you can see your progress in black and white or in graphs on the app! It helps you adjust your workouts and see how much you’ve progressed. There are a ton to choose from, but if you want my opinion you should download the 1st Phorm app and select me as your advisor.

Feeding and Watering

Your workouts are the stimulus to growth, but good food and water are where you make the progress! You can have an amazing program but if your diet consists of the golden arches and cheesecake you aren’t going to get anywhere.

Importance of Diet and Hydration

Your car doesn’t work without gas. Your body doesn’t run without nutrition.

Good, whole food fuels your muscles. Water hydrates you. A well fed, hydrated body can workout more effectively. When you are low on either you know it. You can feel it. Energy levels drop, headaches happen, your output suffers. It’s a mess.

What to Eat and Drink Before and After Workout

Pre-Workout: Before the workout, think of foods that give energy. Carbohydrates are what you want to look for.

☑️ Some handy choices: fruits (like bananas), peanut butter, oats, or yogurt.

Consume some quality carbs about 1.5hrs before your workout for energy.

Along with that, drink lots of water!

Post-Workout: After your workout your body needs help to repair and grow muscles. That means to feed it appropriately, this time with protein and some simple carbs.

☑️ Some great options: protein-rich foods like chicken, eggs, or protein shakes. Don’t forget vegetables or fruit, too!

Drink water or a sports drink to replenish all that lost sweat.

Putting it All Together

Let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve learned about how to build a workout plan!

  1. Scheduling Workout Sessions: We learned to plan workouts like planning a party! Start with 2-3 days a week if you’re a beginner and gradually increase as you get stronger.
  2. Workout Length: Fitness parties need a timer! Workouts should be 45 minutes to an hour for most exercises, or 15-30 minutes for high-intensity moves.
  3. Choosing Exercises: Picking the right exercises is like choosing party games! We choose based on our goals and our current fitness levels.
  4. Building a Progressive Program: Keep the party rocking by progressing. That means challenging our body by increasing volume, intensity, and frequency over time.
  5. Making Adjustments Based on Progress: Like a great DJ alters the music based on crowd response, we should adjust our workout plans based on our body’s feedback.
  6. Importance of Nutrition and Hydration: A workout needs the right fuel and water! So, we learned about what to eat and drink before and after workouts.

Got Questions

And if you ever need help or have a question, I’m here. I’d love your feedback or to help you hit those goals. Send me a message.

Let Us Help You Out

I want to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans I offer to my clients and see if you could benefit from working with me. If you have questions, you can always contact me through the Contact Us page

Personal trainers, like myself, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

If you choose to join one of my programs I’ll get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals. I also do advisory services that guide you along and answer questions you have if you don’t want a fully customized service.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with me to find out what, if any, membership is right for you.

Generally, my clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.

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