How To Create Your Own Gym Training Routine
Do you want a thorough gym plan that helps you achieve your fitness goals? Then you're in the right place! Many newbies join the gym in hopes of building muscle, but due to a lack of a sustainable workout schedule, they end up doing more harm to themselves than good.
When it comes to creating your own workout schedule, there is a ton of misinformation out there regarding how many sets you need, how much weight you need to lift, and how much time you need to spend in the gym.
Even though this article is primarily for new gym-goers, veterans can also benefit from this guide on how to create their own gym training routine.
Setting Up Your Training Goals
The first step is to consider what your fitness goals are. Your exercise routine should conform to your fitness goals and not the other way around. What kind of physique do you want to achieve? Do you want to build muscle? Or you want to lose weight? The goal you have in mind will determine what kind of schedule you need.
It's also important to keep in mind that your goals are achievable. It's no secret that a Mr. Olympia level physique is not achievable for most. However, with consistency and hard work, you can achieve a great physique.
Consider Your Daily Routine
The next step when creating a workout schedule is organising your day. Are you a student? Do you have an office job? Or are you a mother with responsibilities? You need to consider your other activities throughout the day to make time for exercise.
You don't need to devote too much time to resistance training. As science suggests that for ordinary people, 10-20 sets per week for each muscle group will be enough to build strength and cause hypertrophy (muscle gain).
Choosing A Workout Routine
With the initial steps out of the way, you can now proceed to create your workout schedule. The first thing you need to do is pick a workout routine. We recommend picking one from the following three:
The Bro Split
Most gym-goers adopt this routine. As the name suggests, the bro split refers to a workout routine where you split your days according to body parts. For e.g., Monday for chest, Tuesday for biceps, Wednesday for back, and so on.
But is this the most efficient routine? Sure, many of your gym friends might have achieved a stunning physique with a bro split. However, for many new gym-goers, working on only one body part for an entire session may cause fatigue, which can be hard to recover from.
Furthermore, studies suggest that it's better for your muscle growth if you train your muscle groups more than one time per week. This does not mean that bro splits are bad, just that they might not be the most efficient workout routine out there.
The Upper-Lower Split
The upper-lower split is a modest version of a bro split. In the upper-lower routine, you schedule your workouts to train your upper body (chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, traps, and abs) on one day and your lower body (quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings) the next day.
After hitting your upper and lower body for two consecutive days, you can rest for a day and then start again. An upper-lower routine typically consists of 4 days to maximise your muscle gain.
As you may have noticed, this workout routine also trains your muscle groups two times per week. As discussed above, this is superior to hitting your muscle groups one time per week. The upper-lower split is also beginner-friendly.
As the name suggests, a full-body routine is when you devote each workout session to hitting every muscle group in your body. This may sound like a crazy idea, but both the science and experiences of athletes suggest that it’s an excellent exercise routine.
One of the main benefits of a full-body workout routine is that you, as a beginner, can engage all your muscle groups uniformly without risking one muscle group lagging behind. Instead of causing soreness in only one part and resting it for a week, you can divide the fatigue uniformly in all muscle groups, thus promoting quick recovery.
Full-body workouts also diminish the chances of overtraining in each workout session. Studies suggest that 5-6 sets for each muscle group provide optimal muscle growth, and anything beyond that can be counted as a wasted set.
In conclusion, splitting your sets for each muscle group throughout the week is much better for you as far as hypertrophy goes.
Setting Up Training Days
So, how much should you work out every week? Before answering the question, you need to consider your daily routine. How many days can you devote to the gym? Which days are you free? Consider these questions when picking a day.
If you're doing bro splits, you will need to hit the gym at least five days a week. This is not difficult if you are a college student but very hard if you happen to be an office employee. In contrast, you need to hit the gym only two days a week minimum if you're doing an upper-lower split.
Keep in mind that your quality of workout supersedes your quantity. Hitting the gym seven days a week isn't optimal for muscle gains, and it is not even practical. With that said, a full-body routine with three days a week might be your best choice. However, in the end, the exact days depend on your goals and routine.
Choosing What Exercises To Do
When you have so many exercises for each muscle group to choose from, it can confuse what to pick. Remember that you need a plan that is sustainable and applicable for the long term.
Keeping that in mind, pick the exercise for each muscle group that poses a challenge to you and is fun to perform. Focus on a few exercises and get stronger at performing them before moving on to new exercises.
It goes without saying that your workout routine needs to have at least one exercise for each muscle group of your body. Suppose you want to reduce the number of exercises. In that case, you can go for compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as incline bench presses, squats, and parallel dips.
You don't have to do the same exercise each day. You can set up different exercises for each day of the week. For e.g., if you are doing bench press for the chest on Monday, you can go cable crossovers for the chest on Tuesday.
How Many Sets And Reps You Need?
It should be clear by now that doing too many sets on a given workout tends to diminish your progress by causing fatigue and impeding recovery. As concluded by scientific studies, 3 to 5 sets of 10 reps will be optimal for each muscle group.
Using Progressive Overload
Since you are a beginner, you should start with lighter weights and slowly work your way up when your body gets used to the previous weight. This is called progressive overload. Applying progressive overload with bodyweight exercises is easy; all you have to do is increase repetitions. For example, if you're doing 20 reps of pushups, try to do 25 next time.
Applying progressive overload to resistance exercises works the same way. If you're lifting 12 pounds for a bicep curl, then you should increase it to 15 pounds by the next two weeks. Keep in mind that these amounts are not set in stone. Increment the weights, sets, and reps by the amount you are comfortable with.
How To Structure Rest Days So You Perform 100%
How much you need to rest between sets always depends on how much weight you are lifting or the intensity of your workout. For example, if you are lifting the weight you are comfortable with, then wait 60 seconds. If you are lifting heavier weights for strength, then wait for 2-3 minutes.
Similarly, suppose you are doing an intense bodyweight exercise such as 50 reps of pushups. In that case, you need to rest as long as you need for recovery. Don't forget to rest after you have finished your workouts. Ensure that you always get a nice 8-hour sleep.
At the very least, leave two days for resting from your workout schedule so you can perform at your 100%.
Keeping in mind the above instructions, you can develop a sustainable and long-term workout schedule for yourself. Remember to ensure that you give your body optimal nutrition along with a productive workout session for the best results!