Creating a Workout Program that Works | Tim Nassen

Posted on August 30, 2017 at 12:00 AM


There are many elements to consider when designing your own workout program.  It can be a complex and intricate puzzle that only you hold the key to.  Some of the elements that you would want to consider include: your specific goals, your body type, how much time and energy you can devote to training and the style of training you prefer. 

The training program that I am getting ready to describe is one that is suitable for an intermediate or advanced bodybuilder, with more than a few years of training under their belt.  This program will hit both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.  Rep schemes can be adjusted throughout the program to accommodate your energy levels and goals.   

When I sit down to design a program for myself, I first consider what I am trying to accomplish during this particular training phase.  I generally have three phases in which I train: post contest growing phase, prelude to contest prep, and contest prep.  My training for each of these phases will vary a little in regards to rep schemes, time of rest between sets and the use of “blood volume” techniques and sets.  The variances in my training, as I said earlier, will differ slightly depending on which of the        aforementioned phase I am in.  The foundation from which my training philosophy is built, however, will stay fairly consistent regardless of the phase.  Let’s take a quick look at this very basic foundation.

My first exercise in a training session will usually involve a pre-pump technique. Pre-pump methods are used periodically in the first two phases, post contest growth and prelude to contest prep phases, and in almost every workout during my contest prep phase.  What are my parameters for a good pre-exhaust portion of my workout?   For my pre-exhaust exercise, I am going to pick an isolation movement and keep my rep range around 12-15 reps for 3-4 sets with little (30 second) rests between sets. The weight selected is one that will allow me to complete each set in the prescribed rep range with the desired (limited) rest period. The sole purpose of this movement is to supply the muscle with blood and nutrients and to develop a mind muscle connection that I will tap into for the rest of the workout. 

Pre-pump method, when used (note- it is not used in every workout in the post contest growth phase and in the prelude to a contest prep phase), is followed by an explosive compound movement.  Rep ranges for this portion will vary from as low as 2 to as high as 10 reps. These rep ranges can and should vary from workout to workout.  Rest period can be as high as 2 – 3minutes between your heavier sets.  Generally speaking, I prefer heavier weights and lower reps in the post contest phase and slightly lighter weights with higher reps in the contest prep phase.

A hypertrophy exercise will follow the previously listed explosive exercise portion.  In this portion of the workout, I want to maintain a RPE (rate of perceived exertion) level of 6-8 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Sets are performed with roughly 30 seconds of rest and I try to complete 4-5 sets of the selected exercise with a rep range of 8 to 12.   Exercise selection can be either a compound movement or an isolation type lift.

The last portion of my workout will consist of a “blood volume” exercise or exercises.  It is during this phase that I will use a particular technique to move a lot of blood.  Some of these techniques might include: drop sets, giant sets, time under tension (TUT) sets, rest pause, 1 & ½ rep sets, matrix sets or some combination of these methods.  I feel that by moving a lot of blood into the trained muscle group I am saturating it with nutrition and oxygen, thus starting the healing and recovery process that all growth is dependent upon.  Use your imagination and creativity in this portion of the workout.  Feel free to put different techniques together, for example you might do a giant set with the 1st exercise performed TUT, the next exercise performed with 1 & ½’s and your final exercise performed using rest pause techniques.  It is in this segment that I like to keep the body moving and the muscle guessing.

I would like to thank TSI and Metabolic Technologies, Inc. for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on workout programs.  Their products (HMB, BetaTOR, and PEAK ATP) allow me to train harder for longer and recover more quickly from my workouts.  I hope this article was beneficial to you in some way. 

Tim Nassen, Master’s Bodybuilder


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