Choosing the Right Workout Program for You
There are hundreds of potential training splits and thousands of exercises to choose from. With the potentially unlimited choices, how do you go about putting together one that will work? TEAM PEAK athlete Erin Stern works through important steps that can help!
Define Your Goals
It’s very important to pick your main goal or top two goals that you wish to accomplish. To make things easier, write down your long-term goals along with a couple of short-term goals you’d like to achieve within the next 90 days. Make the goals as clear and as objective as possible. For example, don’t set a goal to “gain muscle” or to “lose weight”, as there’s no clear objective here. If you were to lose 5 lbs. of muscle, you’d definitely lose weight, but your appearance probably wouldn’t make you happy! But instead set the goal to gain ½” on your shoulders and lose 1” around your waist, you can quantify these goals and make a plan to achieve them.
When defining your goals, be sure to choose goals that align with your lifestyle, and goals that align with each other. This is important! It will help keep you on track and can help prevent setbacks. If your goals don’t align with your lifestyle, it will be hard to stick with your program. If your goals are divergent, you won’t make any progress. An example of diverging goals is gaining size in your legs while simultaneously training for a marathon. These goals need to be worked on during separate times.
Define Your Schedule
This one is key. How many days per week can you realistically train? Be honest here. If you design a 6-day training split and usually only train 4 days per week, there’s a good chance that you won’t stick to the plan. You can make great progress training 4 days per week, and you can always add a day!
Prioritize Your Goals
Of your goals, which is the most important? Once you have your main goal, that muscle group should be trained at the beginning of your split. To build shoulders, you’ll want to train shoulders at the beginning of the week. This is typically when you’re most “fresh”, and usually when you’re coming off of a day of rest. Depending on goal #2, it can be scheduled for the day after or later in the workouts each day. If you’re looking to gain strategic muscle and lose fat around your midsection, you can lift heavy for the first few exercises and add some metabolic work later in the workout to help with shredding!
After plugging in your priority muscle groups, you can add muscle groups that you’d like to maintain or that you’re not as interested in growing.
Prioritize Your Lifts
Once you have your split written out, it’s time to decide on exercises. For this, I recommend writing out exercises that you feel are effective or that will bring you the best results. Going back to the example of building shoulders, the shoulder press, lateral raise, and face pull will help with building nice, round, capped shoulders. But, keep in mind that this list is for you – so, choose the exercises that you feel will give you the best results. Once you have the list, pick the top 3 exercises for the particular muscle or muscle group. Place the “best” exercises at the beginning of the workout. This way, you’re performing the most effective exercises when you’re the freshest and strongest! You can fill in auxiliary lifts for later in the workout. These can be isolation exercises that can help contribute to your goals.
Mix It Up
Every person’s body adapts to their training so be sure to switch up your exercises every 4-6 weeks. Variations of the same exercise are fine!
By following these steps, you’ll have a new and effective training program in no time! Thank you for reading! Until next time, train hard, y’all!
Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia | TEAM PEAK athlete