Build your own workout plan with this tried-and-tested template
What works for building muscle and strength doesn't have to be complicated
As a rule of thumb, compound lifts are the exercises you should prioritise in your workout plan. These recruit the maximum number of muscle fibres at any one time, while also working through more than one joint.
But which lifts do you opt for? And how do you structure these into a training programme?
Here is a template that allows you to fill in the blanks. The answers will then fall into place.
Build your own workout plan
Pick one lift from each of these categories:
- Upper Body: Pull
- Hip Dominant
- Knee Dominant
- Upper Body: Push
Upper Body: Pull
These lifts primarily work back muscles such as the lats, traps and rhomboids. Emphasis is also placed on the forearms and biceps.
Examples include: Pull-Up / Lat Pulldown / Row Variations
Lifts which hinge at the hips tend to recruit the muscles in your posterior chain. These are the glutes, hamstrings and even the muscles of the lower back (called the erector spinae).
Examples include: Deadlift (all variations) / Barbell Hip Thrust / Back Extension
Russian Olympic weightlifter Dmitriy Klokov demonstrates the weighted back extension in this clip:
Leg exercises working from the knee joint mainly activate your quads. That said, with compound lifts it's impossible to completely isolate one muscle.
Examples include: Barbell Squat / Leg Press / Weighted Lunge
Once you've selected your preferred exercises, there are some further guidelines to bear in mind:
Upper Body: Push
Muscles involved in pushing and pressing movements are your chest, shoulders and triceps.
Examples include: Overhead Shoulder Press / Bench Press / Weighted Dip
Many people assume 'core' is just another word for abdominals, but there's more to it. True, core exercises can strengthen your abs, but you'll also develop the obliques and more.
Examples include: Hanging Leg Raise / Plank / Bosu Ball Crunch
Perform this workout two or three times per week. Aim to complete three or four sets of eight to 12 reps.
Lagging Muscle Groups
If you're really struggling to build up a particular muscle, consider adding some isolation exercises in at the end of each session.
This may take the form of a bicep curl, tricep extension or calf raise.
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