Putting Together a Workout Routine

Putting Together a Workout Routine

I am making this for the guys here who train naturally. If fueled by AAS then by all means this may not do the job for you fellas.

These are the things to look at whenever designing a program:

  1. goals
  2. training split (how many days per week? Upper/lower? total body? push/pull/leg?)
  3. exercise selection
  4. sets and reps (volume)
  5. rest interval
  6. rep tempo

Whenever setting up a workout you need to use some type of template.
I like to set my templates up like this:

I. Warm up-Normally some type of stretching.

I will now describe the 4 types of stretching.

  • Static stretching-this is what we have all been taught about as kids. And growing up all through athletics. Holding a stretch for 1-3 sets for 20-30 seconds. This is normally used for post-workout stretching, unless there are muscle imbalances present.

  • Dynamic Stretching-this is a form of dynamic movement stretching. Things like Prisoner squats, Wood chops with medicine ball, 1-legged touchdowns, etc....These are normally done before a workout to get your body loose for the exercises to follow.

  • Foam Rolling (Self-myofascial stretching)-this form of stretching is used with a foam roller, or actually could use a large rolling pin. You get your body in a postition to roll your muscle over top of the foam roller. Once you find the tender spot you hold it for 20-30 seconds. This can be at times very painful. For more info on foam rolling keep posted and I will post more about it at a later time.

  • Active stretching-Its just about like dynamic stretching but a bit different. You use things like tubes, balls, etc... Active stretching has never really interested me because I like to use Dynamic stretching instead.

II. Core Training

Everyone knows what core is all about however I like to pick a variety of different exercises whenever it comes to core exercises.

  1. Stabilization-Planks, Bridges, Cobras, etc
  2. Rotational-Wood Chops (From a low pulley, from a high pulley, from a medium pulley), Trunk Twists, Ball crunches with a twist, etc
  3. Strength-Cable Crunches, Plate decline crunches, Weighted Knee ups, Hyper extensions, etc...

*Keep in mind also there are many different lifts that we do in our workouts that require a ton of stabilization to perform. Things like deadl ifts, Standing Overhead presses, Squats, and many many more.

III. Speed and Agility

(Always optional)

1. Things like Quick foot ladder, Cone Drills, Depth Jumps, etc..

IV. Resistance Training

As we all know there are tons and tons of routines and ways to put them together. I am just going to post a few to get things started and maybe add as time goes on because there are numerous routines!

  1. Upper/Lower
  2. Push/Legs/Pull
  3. Body part Splits
  4. Total Push/Total Pull

The most important thing in keeping gains coming is periodization.
Using different reps, sets, tempos, ri's, and intensities.

Wk1-2-3x10-12, 60 sec ri, 2/1/2 tempo
Wk3-5-3x6, 90 sec ri, Controlled Tempo
Wk6-7-3x3, 120 sec ri, Controlled Tempo
Wk8-De load

That was an example of periodization and a proper loading pattern.

V. Cardio

In my opinion cardio is vital for overall health. I dont think it should be skimped on just because you are trying to put on weight. It is so good for overall health and to be honest what in the hell can being big do for you if you are dead? Or you cant use it because you are out of breath?

I like to use sprints you can get so much done in very little time with sprints. But as we all know there are so many different varieties of cardio. It is also very important to monitor your heart rate. Later on I will post on how to monitor your heart rate and where you need to stay.

VI. Cool down

  1. Here is where you should try to take your heart rate back to where it was and slowly. Without doing this properly you can experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, etc..

  2. Static stretching should be used right here as well. Just as I explained earlier.

Alright let me add to the resistance part of training:

For strength training you are looking at a 2-5 minute rest in between sets. Reps should be from 1-5 reps.

For Endurance training you are looking at 30 seconds or less. Reps here should be from 12-20 reps.

And as for hypertrophy you are wanting to knock it out around 60-90 seconds. As for reps here you are looking for 6-12 reps.

As for routines I will post some examples of routines that have been followed by me and many of my fellow partners in the past. Along with my studies and my experience I feel these programs are some of the best ways to train for the natural bodybuilder. Keep in mind I am just writing out the exercises what you do with the loading and the periodization you use is what is truly important.

So lets go with the first combination I posted which is upper lower. What I enjoy doing with upper lower is whenever I do my lower I like to split it up. I like to use a quad dominant and a ham dominant. So it could go something like this:

7 day week: Day1-Upper 1, Day2-Lower Ham Dominant, Day3-Off, Day4-Upper 2, Day5-Quad Dominant, Days 6 & 7-off

Upper 1
DB Row
OH Press
Chin ups

Lower Ham Dominant
Dead lift Variant
Good morning
Glute Ham Raises
Hyper extensions

Upper 2
DB Incline Press
BB Bent over Row
DB Bench Press
Side Raises

Lower Quad Dominant
Squat Variant
Step Ups
Leg Extensions

As for a push/legs pull routine. In my opinion you really need to concentrate on intensity here since you will only be revisiting that area once each week.

OH Press

Squat Variant
Dead lift Variant (If you can take it)
Good morning

DB Rows
Bent Over Rows

Then of course the ever so popular body part splits. I really don't like this much for strength. An upper/lower routine is much better for strength, but for most of you who are bodybuilders this works very well as long as you can fight off the over training issue. This can be designed in so many ways but for this purpose I will keep each body part separate and think of each as having their own day. Also as far as tempo goes, if you are looking for size really focus on the eccentric part of your lift, because studies have shown an increase of size of individuals who work on the eccentric compared just lowering the weight controlled.

Cable Crossovers
*As you can see 2 compounds and 2 isolations. I like to do it that way if training with body parts.

DB Rows
Bent Over Laterals

Squats Variant
Dead lift Variant
Leg Extension
Leg Curl
Calve Raises

Shoulder Press
Side Raises
Front Raises

BB Curl
DB Preacher Curl
Rope Extension

Planks (Stabilization)
Wood Chops (Rotational)
Cable Crunches (Strength)
*However I still do core exercises 4-5 days a week.

*I would also like to say I care for this routine about as much as I care for my mother in law!

Total push/Total Pull

Total Push 1
2-Limbed Squat
BB Bench
OH Press

Total Pull 1
2-limbed Dead lift
BB Row
Good morning
Hyper extension

Total Push 2
1-Limbed Squat
DB Press
See Saw OH Press
Step Ups

Total Push 2
1-Legged Dead lift
DB Row
Zercher Good mornings
1-Legged Hyper extension

As you can see there are many many different ways to develop programs and what I have just wrote with exercises is not programs, but rather exercises. A program as a whole like I mentioned needs sets, reps, tempos, ri's, intensity, and frequency. Plain and simple any idiot can write a bunch of exercises, but to put something together that will continue to work for months is tougher than it seems.

Some periodization could look like this:

Undulating Periodization

Overhead Press
Week A: 8x3 @ 5-6RM - 75sec RI
Week B: 3x12 @ 15RM – 30sec RI
Week C: 4x6 @ 8RM – 60sec RI

Week 1: 8x3 @ 5-6RM - 75sec RI
Week 2: 3x12 @ 15RM – 30sec RI
Week 3: 4x6 @ 8RM – 60sec RI

Week 1: 4x10 @ 12RM – 45sec RI
Week 2: 5x5 @ 7RM – 75sec RI
Week 3: 5x8 @ 10RM – 60sec RI

DB Row
Week 1: 4x10 @ 12RM – 45sec RI
Week 2: 5x5 @ 7RM – 75sec RI
Week 3: 5x8 @ 10RM – 60sec RI

*Those are just a section of what could be going on with your periodization.

Heres the next form which is Linear periodization most power lifters use this for their 1rm's.

Week 1: 4x12 @ 65%
Week 2: 4x10 @ 70%
Week 3: 3x8 @ 75%
Week 4: 3x5 @ 83%
Week 5: 3x3 @ 88%
Week 6: 3x2 @ 90%
Week 7: 2x2 @ 95%
Week 8: 1x1 @ 100%
Week 9: 1x1 @ 105% - Trying for a new 1rm.

So there are you a few types of periodization you could use. Really beginners really dont have to use periodization. Theres no need for it. They need to work on the tempo and form more than anything to improve tendon strength.

I forgot one of the most important training routines which is a total body routine:

It could look something like this:

Military Press
Front Squats
Tricep Extensions
DB Curls

Day 2
Incline Press
Bent Over Rows
Push Press
Glute Ham Raises

Good Mornings
Rack Press
DB Row
EZ Curls
DB Rear Laterals

Whenever doing total body though I like to divide up the intensities and make one day focusing more on strength, another on hypertrophy, and the final one on endurance.

So it could go:

Day1-3x3 @ 5rm-120 sec ri
Day2-3x8 @ 10rm-75 sec ri
Day3-3x15 @ 17-18rm-30 sec ri

Then the next week could go

Day 1-4x2 @ 3rm-180sec ri
Day 2-4x6 @ 8rm-75-90sec ri
Day 3-2x20 @ 22rm-30sec or less ri

*Those are just to give some examples of periodization I would use for that
Progression: This is important to consider as well.


You are doing BB bench press the progression is into DB Bench, then progress into 1-armed DB Bench

Seated OH Press--Seated DB Press--Standing BB OH Press--Standing DB OH Press--Standing DB See Saw OH Press--Standing 1-armed DB OH Press

Back Squat--Front Squat--Split Squat--Bulgarian Squat--Pistols

Romian Deadlift--1-legged BB Romian Deadlift--1-legged DB RDL--1-legged DB RDL off of an unstable surface

BB Row--DB Row--DB Row Unsupported--BB/DB Row off of 1-leg

DB/BB Curl--DB/BB Curl off of 1-leg

Tricep Extensions--Tricep Extensions off of 1 leg

So thats progression. Its good to use. And it really helps with functional strength. Always good to not only look the part, but be able to use it as well.

Power Exercises: (Weighted)
Clean Variant
Snatch Variant
Push Press
Speed Bench
Speed Deads
Speed Squats
Soccer Throw (Medicine Ball)-10% or so of bw
Chest pass (Medicine Ball)-10% or so of bw

Power Exercises: (Non-Weighted)
Depth Push-ups
Plyo Push-ups
Box Jumps (from low, med, or high box)
Box Landings (from low, med, high box)
Marching Jumps
Long Jumps
Double Jumps
Triple Jumps
Squat Jumps
Tuck Jumps
Ice Skaters

sir, write about how trainees need to gradually increase workload capacity, how to progress steadily and how to manipulate exercise selections to approach training in terms of lifts instead of old school body parts. - Sentinel

Sounds good.

Well I have heard many people from this board wanting to do a body part split and haven't put enough time in fixing postural imbalances, strength issues (one arm stronger than the other), and simply not building up enough joint and tendon strength to move on to something as tough on the body as a dedicated body part split.

Whenever a person starts out they have an idea body in mind. So the first thing they do is pick up a bodybuilding magazine and see Ronnie Coleman in the pictorials benching 500lbs. Then they look to the fold out and see his chest blasting workout. Consisting of 22 working sets total. So they grasp a hold of that workout and run to the gym with all kinds of excitement. After 2 weeks they are burned out and tired. Not understanding why they haven't yet put on a single pound. After flexing in the mirror for 5 minutes they realize they have did nothing with their body.

Realize this, your body doesn't change over night. It took you that long to get fat and out of shape so it will take a while to get your fat butt back into shape. But don't make the mistake of picking up a magazine at a local grocery store and mimicking a workout out of there. Make the most out of your time at the gym. From the beginning of a training regimen your body is imbalanced and things like joints and tendons need to be strengthened. For that reason I like to start some of my clients in the 12-15 rep range for a few months. Also realize your body hasn't did anything for years or months so you don't need a real in depth program to start, just keep it simple. Something like this:

Total Body (Workout 1)
Squat (Do these right!)
Standing Shoulder Press

(Workout 2)
1-Legged Leg press
DB Row
Incline Push-ups
Seated Shoulder Press

(Workout 3)
Squat Press
Renegade Rows
Side Planks

I would use this with clients for a whole month before I felt like we could get more advanced. I don't like using deads with new people. And a lot of times back squats are not used with weight at all. Depending on the goals I may or may not use active rest. With that I keep their reps at around 12-15 with a 15-18rm. Sets are anywhere from 2-4.

After they complete the first month or so I have them starting to get more advanced. Now this doesn't mean I have them go into body part splits. I normally just adjust some exercises and maybe start to go a bit heavier. For example:

The Following are Supersets
Front Squat
DB Bench

OH Press


I have their reps anywhere from 8-12 with sets anywhere from 2-5.

I feel like at this point I have to use good periodization. The body really begins to adapt to a few months of hard training. So at this point its about time to setup loading patterns that I have mentioned in this thread a while back. From this time on I setup their programs anywhere from 1 month to 6 months at a time. Most people just need to realize nothing adapts to outside stressors more than the human body so be careful with the training. But at first do keep it simple.