How To: Design Your Own Workout Programme

Why a programme?

There is nothing wrong with going to the gym and training what and how you want when you get there. The most important thing is that you're working out at all! However, as we get past the 'newbie gains' stage, we can find that progress slows and motivation stops. This is where a more structured programme can be a great idea to stay accountable.

A programme:

  • Takes away the stress of planning a session on the spot
  • May be more motivating as the day you are tempted to skip could be your only opportunity to train back that week
  • Easier to track strength gains week to week as the same compound movements are chosen and progressive overload is a key driver of muscle growth

Training programmes can be pricey depending on coach, and may not be entirely tailored to your needs, so being able to design your own is a great skill.


Step one

Decide how many days a week you are going to train. Make this realistic, if you’ve only made it twice a week all year, you are probably not going to stick to a six day a week split. Consider not only your lifestyle and availability but your style of training. People who train extremely close to failure or with very high intensity every session like powerlifters may work best with a four day split, for those who prefer to do a lot more isolation work for smaller muscles like the biceps a 'bro split’ of 5-6 days max might be manageable.

Ensure that at least one rest day a week is planned. More isn’t better in terms of muscle growth and may even slow progress, muscles need time away from training to repair themselves bigger and stronger. The results of overtraining.

Step two

Decide how to split up your days based on weaknesses, what you enjoy and potential carry overs into sport.


Day Muscle(s) Trained
Monday Chest and triceps
Tuesday Back
Wednesday Legs
Thursday Rest
Friday Shoulders and abs
Saturday Legs
Sunday Rest


Step three

Exercise selection.

For muscle growth, the common way of training is to start with heavy compounds, move onto machines and then lighter burn outs. Working sets will tend to increase in reps and decrease in weight as the session goes on.


Legs- exercise
Hip thrusts
Walking lunges
Leg press
Leg extension
Lying leg curl


Step 4

Fine tune sets and reps depending on whether strength or hypertrophy is the goal.

Some people like to use 5x5 for compounds, whereas others may simply work up to a 5-8 rep max for that week.

Step 5

Cardio? Cardio can be used as a tool to change body composition and a technique to increase endurance and fitness. If you currently do not do any cardio and are looking to lose body fat, start minimal and increase from there so that you can add more as progress slows. The same principal applies for someone doing a lot of cardio who’d like to move into more of a muscle gain centered phase of their training.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
Post a Comment

Please wait...