Designing a workout plan doesn't have to be complicated. Let's break down the principles for creating one that makes sense for your personal goals.
- Decide how many days a week you can dedicate to training. Five or six days a week is pretty standard, but if you can only afford three or four days a week, that's ok too.
- Decide if you will work a body part 1x or 2x a week. You can see results from both, so it is really a matter of preference, goal and training level. Beginners benefit from a more comprehensive, full-body approach while intermediate/advanced gym goers can dial in their training with a single muscle-group focus. For weight loss, a full-body approach may be more beneficial because you are recruiting more muscles per session, while for muscle hypertrophy a single muscle-group split routine might be better for development. If you focus on one body part per session, give it your all and work the muscles hard. If you want to hit multiple body parts in one session, move fast to increase the intensity. This approach also helps when you're trying to cut down.
- Choose the right exercises to stack together. The best plan includes a variety of movements that work the muscles at different angles. Strike a balance and choose exercises that allow your muscles to follow multiple paths of movement. For example, stack press exercises against pull exercises to hit both planes.
- Figure in rest periods. Rest is all a matter of your training goals. If you are looking to move max weight and/or max volume, then give yourself enough time to recover between sets (I usually take five minutes). If you’re working under your max or failure, you can keep rest at 1-2 minutes.
- To add cardio or not to add cardio. If you are working out to lose weight and don't want to sacrifice muscle, perform supersets during your lifts and keep rest to 30 seconds. You can also use Tabata, which is 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times (four minutes).
I hope these principles will help you get started on crafting your own workout plan. In the meantime, here are sample splits:
Muscle Trained 1x Directly (Saturday, Sunday off)
Monday - Back
Tuesday - Shoulders
Wednesday - Legs (Quads/Hamstrings)
Thursday - Chest (What do you mean it's not on Monday?)
Friday - Auxiliaries - Arms, Abs, Calves
Major Muscles Trained 2x Directly (Saturday, Sunday off)
Monday - Hamstrings/Shoulders/Biceps
Tuesday - Quads/Chest/Abs
Wednesday - Back/Triceps/Calves
Thursday - Shoulders/Back/Hamstrings
Friday - Quads/Chest (Weakest Auxiliary)