Design Your Own Workout!
I harp on people all the time about changing their workouts up. Most people stick with a workout for FAR too long which limits their gains. Your body gets used to the workouts it is asked to do so if you want continued muscle gains and strength gains you need to mix up what you are asking it to do. Now there are lots of ways to mix up your workouts, varying number of reps, types of exercises, varying use of techniques like dropsets or supersets … or you can just design totally new workout plans.
Lets start with a pop quiz.
Who should design their own workout plans?
- People with lagging bodyparts?
- Very experienced lifters only?
Got your answer? Lets start with the first, hardgainers. After the first month of, over 90% of beginers label themselves as hardgainers. Guess what? If virtually everyone is a hardgainer, that means that they are normal and its just their expectations that are all out of whack! Look at it this way. If there were a special workout that made hargainers gain muscle quicker, why wouldn’t EVERYONE do it? They would! The mistake that hardgainers usually make is that they take a really good standard workout program and ruin it by adding tons of sets and reps thinking that more is better. NO. It just leads to overtraining and diminished gains. There is a reason that all these standard workout programs are pretty optimal. Any attempt to improve them just makes them worse! OK so choice #1 is not the right choice, lets look at number 2.
So people with lagging bodyparts, should they make their own workout plans? No. Why? Because in my experience, beginner and intermediate bodybuilders are always WRONG about what their lagging bodyparts are! Its usually biceps or pecs they list as lagging when that is not the case at all so when they “improve” some good basic workout plan by adding lots of curls or bench press, they just ruin it. Its their ENTIRE BODY is weak and lagging, not their pecs or arms!
So who SHOULD design their own workout plan? Great question. People who are very experienced lifters. I would define “experienced” as either having lifted consistently 52 weeks a year for a full decade or someone who is a member of the 1000 pound club (bench + squat + deadlift). People with this level of experience know what they are doing, know pros and cons of various workout philosophies, and know how to work around injuries.
What Scooby Does
I design a new workout plan for every single week! Thats right, I change workout plans every week. Isnt that a bit extreme? Well, the older you get the more injuries you have and the harder it is to hang on to your gains. I have no hope of making gains but I can fight like the dickens to avoid losing. My main issue is injuries, I always have one or more issues to work around. When I sit down to design the weeks workouts, I start with a fresh slate and list all the exercises that I currently can do for each bodypart. From that list, I pick and choose to make the weeks workouts
Lets take an example of the week of September 15 2015. Lately I have come up with a really interesting workout plan that I like. First a bit of background. Many people categorize workouts into little boxes and insist upon it. A workout is either a full body workout, a 2DAW (Day A Week) split, a 3DAW split, or a 5 DAW split – kind of corresponding to my beginning, intermediate, and advanced workout plans. Things get interesting when you mix them up. I am REALLY liking this:
- SATURDAY (intense day) 2-3 hours intense leg centric cardio
- SUNDAY (intense day) 2-3 hours intense leg centric cardio
- MONDAY (intense day) weight lifting – chest, lats, traps, shoulders
- TUESDAY (easy day) weight lifting – biceps, triceps, abs
- WEDNESDAY(intense day) leg workout + 20-30 min HIIT cardio (box jump, tabata sprints, etc)
- THURSDAY (intense day) pull workout – lats, traps and biceps
- FRIDAY (intense day) push workout – chest, triceps, shoulders, and abs
Every body part gets worked out twice in a week so the volume is high. The first workout is a nearly a full body workout but since its done on monday after two days off from the weights, its a great workout. Enough about ME, what about YOU?
Start with bodyparts
Sounds pretty basic but start with the overall plan for the week. 5DAW split? Upper/lower split? 3 day split? A hybrid like my above? Anyway, after you decide then write the bodyparts you are working today at the top of the sheet. In this example, lats, biceps and traps:
Now list exercises
List all exercises that you can think for those bodyparts. List them right under the name of the bodypart as I have done. List them all, not just the ones you think you will do. Leave off any exercises you cant do because of injuries.
Now design the workout!
This is where you get creative. You have to know the limitations of the gym you are using too. If its a busy gym then dont bother designing supersets that have you running all over the gym because by the time you get back to station 1, someone will have moved your stuff and will be on it. If you are working out at home, you know how many weight plates you have and how many spin lock handles so design a workout plan that doesnt have you spending all your time moving weight plates around between sets. Dont be afraid to scratch things off and start over, thats why we use pen and paper rather than software on a computer, its a lot faster and more flexible.
Make it so!
Do your workout! Dont be afraid to redesign in the middle of a workout if you have to either. If your elbow starts to feel tweeky then skip the clapping pullups!