When designing a workout routine I have found the first thing to do is to create a structure based on regions and muscle groups of the body. This allows you to form a basic template each session. I use this idea of templating consistently as I design routines around my schedule and with the ability to be adapted to changing circumstances. The most obvious constraint for any workout plan is time. Using the idea of templates allows me to have a basic structure that I can quickly adapt either to a one day change or something like when covid 19 slammed into the two hospitals on Long Island that I work in.
I work 12 hour night shifts 5 to 7 nights a week in the hospital and my shifts can vary in how busy I am. I also have 3 teens that I try to spend time with as well and a very spoiled dog so most days are impacted by something they need that I didn't schedule. Then things like Covid 19 can really throw a wrench into my workout plans so flexibility is key to being able to maintain a consistent workout.
Basic Structure - Regions, Muscles, and Actions
The basis for a workout plan template is a list of the body's regions with the major muscle groups of each separated into an action - push or pull.
- Upper Back
- upper traps
- rear delts
- Mid Back
- lower traps
- upper lats
- Lower Back
- lower lats
- biceps, include forearms
- mid and front deltoids
- upper, mid and lower pecs
Finally core/abs are in their own category along with stretching and cardio.
Make a Basic Template
Next I decide on a structure for the basic template based on the above divisions.
Alternating Actions Plan
The first consideration is what my goal is. If I have not been working out for a while because of vacation or recovering from an injury I will generally make a push-pull template with alternating exercises like a press followed by a row. This type of routine is also great for time because I can easily move from one to other with little to no rest time since they are utilizing opposing actions. This kind of setup is good for a cardio based workout as well because again you can move from one exercise to the next in a circuit type fashion using low weight and high repetition.
It is not necessary to work every body part every workout and our primary goal is to do one exercise per week at least, especially with the more taxing lifts like heavy presses or rows. That way though you are doing pushes and pulls every workout, your plan should involve changing muscles groups that are being worked. For example
|Day One||Action||Day Two|
|Low Back||Pull||Mid Back|
|Front Delts||Push||Side Delts|
|Upper Traps||Pull||Upper Lats|
Single Action Plan
My primary and current plan involves a single action per session, so I have a Push day and a Pull day. Using the above table then you would do all Push on day 1 and all Pull on day 2. Currently I do this with upper body only and then alternate a push and pull on leg day. I'll go into more detail on my current plan in a later post.
With these basic ideas in place I start planning a routine by finding specific exercises for those parts, which is the subject of Part 2 - Creating a Base Template.