It can be difficult to design a program that meets your needs especially when you are newer to working out. Many times that is the reason why people just copy existing programs, because it is easier and faster to adapt to something already created than make something from scratch.
But there will come a time when you will want to customize a routine that meets you specific needs. When that time arrives it is good to understand the keys you should be looking at as you put it all together.
Workout Design Keys
- Time – How much time do you have each week to work out? This is very important to consider because you typically want to work each muscle group once per week. If you only have a few days then you need to decide between splitting up muscle groups over many days, doing full body workouts, or splitting into upper and lower body only plus whatever other activities you want to include (cardio, boot camp, yoga, etc).
- Rest – As well as figuring out how many days you have to work out, you also want to make sure there is plenty of rest time available. Muscle growth doesn’t occur during a workout, it takes place after the workout during the rest and recovery phase.
- Exercises – Which exercises do you need to include versus want to include. Personally I am a big believer in compound movements and the big two (deadlifts and squats) being involved in any program for muscle size and strength. But what are your goals? What exercises will help you get there? Do you have a specific area that needs more focus than another?
- Injuries – Do you have any injuries or weak points that need to be worked around or rehabilitated? Bad knees, sore shoulders, etc need to be considered when tailoring a program. It might be that you need to include rotator cuff work to strengthen sore shoulders so make sure to leave time for that in the big plan.
The Bottom Line
You have more than likely seen a ton of program styles and designs. You can split your body a ton of different ways and split up workouts in numerous ways over a week’s time, especially if you include morning and night sessions into your schedule (not recommended as it is very taxing). Really the only limits are based on your creativity.
So write down some basic ideas and form a plan that fits your needs. Think about it, tweak it, and then give it a trial run for a few weeks. If the program doesn’t feel comfortable, then look to make minor adjustments to get it just right. Of course no program stays ‘just right’ for long because are wants and needs change as our life changes. But then you simply adjust the program again to something that fits you again.