Wondering how to build a workout plan? Prevailing wisdom suggests that coming up with a good fitness routine is mostly about putting together some exercises and calling it a day.
At first glance, that seems to be enough – after all, what else do we need?
Well, when it comes to structuring a solid workout plan (at home or at a gym), there are several things you should consider:
1. The Frequency
The frequency refers to how often you plan on working out. Most beginners start with an unsustainable frequency with the idea of making faster progress. But, we could argue that starting with a more conservative target is better for your long-term development.
Consistency plays the most prominent role, and it’s better to train three times per week for a year than six times… before you give up by week three.
With that said, a good mark for beginners is to start with no more than three weekly sessions—for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
2. The Variety
Most beginners make the mistake of doing the same type of training in every workout. This can be harmful because it places too much stress on their joints and connective tissues. A much better way to go about it is to add variety to the training. For example, instead of doing the same thing every time, try a variation like this:
Monday – Chest, triceps, and shoulders
Wednesday – Back, biceps, and abs
Friday – Lower body
By distributing the stress on different muscles and joints, you give them ample time to recover before you train them again.
You can also vary the activities if you don’t want to stick with one single modality (e.g., resistance training):
Monday – Resistance training
Wednesday – Cardio
Friday – Yoga
3. The Progression
The main difference between training and exercising is progression. While exercise is mostly about doing the same thing every time, training also includes an element of progress.
Put simply, you need to see improvements in your abilities over time. This means that no matter what type of training you do, you’re getting better at it. In the context of cardio, this could mean running a longer distance. In the context of bodyweight training, this could be the ability to do more push-ups.
To achieve progress, however, you need to challenge yourself. If you go about your workouts half-heartedly, don’t expect to progress much. So, for example, say that you want to get stronger and build muscle mass with home bodyweight workouts. What you want to do is slowly add more work (sets, repetitions, weekly workouts, etc.). If an exercise becomes too easy, tackle a more challenging version – for example, move from classic push-ups to decline-push ups eventually.