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How to Build the Proper Lifting Program for You

Updated on August 13, 2016

Hundreds of methods, thousands of exercises, many different perspectives, but one common purpose. To use the weights to achieve a personal goal.

Where does one begin though? Each pathway spanned out before you promises the best route. How do you choose the right road for your dreams and goals? There are many factors to take into account, but the key is going to be narrowing down what you consider. Not everyone responds the same, and different types of training can have varied impacts on individuals. Some trial and error might be necessary, but first you want to establish a plan. In this article, I will help you hone in on four main things that I feel you really need to consider when looking for how to structure your workout plan and routine. These will help you piece together a workout routine that is custom fit to your plans.

Lets take a look at some components to regard, whether you are just starting out, or looking to switch up your training regimen.


Identify your ultimate goal and find out what type of training is necessary to reach your it.
Identify your ultimate goal and find out what type of training is necessary to reach your it.

Look at Your Ultimate Goal

The first thing must be to look at your main purpose for starting, and where you want to end up. You could have started to lose weight, or to gain lots of muscle. Maybe you started to challenge others and yourself in competitions. Perhaps you are an athlete and are training for a specific sport. Whatever the reason may be, this will determine how you train. If you want to power lift, you are going to be training very heavy with few reps, and longer rest periods in between sets. If you are a physique athlete or body-builder, you are going to train with higher reps and do more isolation exercises for each individual muscle. These are just to name a few. Decide, if you haven't already, what your ultimate goal is. Do you need to do more compound lifts to reach your goal? (Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift) Maybe you need to superset exercises to burn more calories or be more time efficient. This will help you determine what type of lifter you want to be.

It is ok to have multiple goals, and therefore, need to combine multiple types of training. I personally train with both a power lifting and body building emphasis. I do power training for 3-5 weeks, and then I switch to high volume training. I like to repeat this cycle in a somewhat consistent fashion as this matches my goals. Don't be afraid to do a little research and see what type of training is necessary to reach your goals!

Decide how many days a week you want to train and determine what muscle groups you will work on what days.
Decide how many days a week you want to train and determine what muscle groups you will work on what days.

Days and Muscle Group Frequency

This one is also driven by schedule and preference, not just your goals.

There are different approaches to how many days you want to train per week. It is a good idea to be sure you are training at a minimum or three days per week. Any lower than this will prevent you from seeing consistent and substantial progress. This will also not give you a true reflection of what you are capable of. Sometimes the number of days you train can vary on experience. It is usually not wise if you have never lifted before to jump right into training six days per week for an hour and a half to two hours. Three or four days a week is usually a good place to start if you have not had a lot of exposure or experience lifting weights. For those of you that have been training for a little bit, I would recommend five or six days per week. This will give you the opportunity to "practice" more. Just as a good football player does not only practice a couple times a week, so it is the same with lifting. I love working out six days a week and would highly recommend this to a seasoned lifter chasing a lucrative goal.

Another factor to consider is muscle frequency. That is, what muscle groups do you want to train on which days. Again, this can change with experience, but there are many ways to approach this. Here are some examples of different training splits and muscle group frequency

Example #1
Muscle Groups Worked
Monday
Upper Body
Tuesday
Lower Body
Wednesday
Off
Thursday
Upper Body
Friday
Lower Body
Saturday
Off
Sunday
Off
Example #2
Muscle Groups Worked
Monday
Chest and Triceps
Tuesday
Back and Biceps
Wednesday
Off
Thursday
Legs
Friday
Shoulders
Saturday
Arms
Sunday
Off
Example #3
Muscle Groups Worked
Monday
Chest
Tuesday
Back
Wednesday
Legs
Thursday
Shoulders
Friday
Arms
Saturday
Off
Sunday
Off

These are just a few examples of different splits that can be used. You should try to correlate your split to your goals. If you are training for a bench press competition, you might want to have more than one chest day a week. There are lots of different training splits that you can use. If you have a hard time coming up with the right one on your own, websites such as bodybuilding.com and muscleandfitness.com can give you some great ideas!

Gather ideas from experienced lifters online, through books, or in person to help bolster your training arsenal.
Gather ideas from experienced lifters online, through books, or in person to help bolster your training arsenal.

Gather Ideas From Credible Sources

One of the biggest mistakes a weightlifter can make is to think they can make it on their own. This is far from the truth.

If you have any hopes of becoming successful and reaching your goals, one of the best ways to do so is to gather information from experts and well-seasoned veterans who have been lifting for ages. There are plenty of good books, and, especially in today's day and age, many great articles online that can give anything from nutritional tips and protein consumption recommendations, to full workout plan guidelines and lifting technique variations. Be sure to utilize these resources to continue to expand your knowledge and education on how to better train yourself to reach your goals and aspirations. There are many veterans who have gone before you who are eager and willing to share their wealth of knowledge to help you achieve similar heights. Look to combine different ideas that they give you to help piece together you training routine. Every lifter brings unique experiences and perspectives, and combining some of these can help your workouts begin to pack a lethal punch.

Don't be afraid to utilize the community you live in as well. For most of you, there are many more experienced lifters training side by side with you chasing their goals too! Reach out to some of them and see if they can offer and tips or tricks that have helped them along the way. Everyone has something to offer!

Quick Survey

What are you currently training for?

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Consistently changing your workout routine over time will help keep your progress on and upward trend. Don't be discouraged when life might throw an obstacle in.
Consistently changing your workout routine over time will help keep your progress on and upward trend. Don't be discouraged when life might throw an obstacle in.

Customize to Fit as you Grow

Lifting, like life, is in a constant state of flux.

Simply put, how you train today may not be how you train one month from now, or one year from now. As you grow, you may decide you like a different training split better, or that you enjoy a good burnout to end every one of your workouts. Change is a good thing, and it will help keep your body off balance, unable to adjust to your methods of madness. Consistently changing the weight I use, the rep range I train, the day I train a muscle group, and how long I train it has had a profound impact on my success and has allowed me to push to new heights that I never dreamed of when I was just starting out. Don't be afraid to try new things. Lifting variety is not like those gross vegetables your parents force fed you as a child.

This applies not only to adapting as you progress, but also as life changes. You might move to a different area, maybe you get married or start a family, you might even start your own business. These have can have an impact on your training frequency and duration, but with calculated adjustments, you can still find ways put your body through the subjection it needs to grow. However the waves of life carry you, embrace the change that they bring and continue to strive towards your ultimate goal!

Get out there and seize the day with your best effort in every training session!
Get out there and seize the day with your best effort in every training session!

What are you waiting for?

There will never be a better day than today, so piece together your routine and get started! Don't worry about it not being "just right" when starting out a new routine. The most important part is just getting the ball rolling; from there you can see what you like and what you don't, what you respond to, and what doesn't have much effect. Lifting is truly a sport of continual trial and error. Even after several years, I am still making small adjustments here and there based on what I observe day in and day out.

Anything worth doing, is worth doing right, so don't take a haphazard approach; Do your homework and get out there to utilize the gift of each day!

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