Doing Your Homework(out) -Creating A Workout Program

Last week, we discussed how you have access to most of what you need at home for a good workout.  Having a good list of exercises is important, but programming is arguably the most important part of exercising and making real progress.  Creating a workout program also keeps you on track with a regular schedule, which has its own set of benefits for relieving stress and removing some degree of uncertainty.  

The program we’ll be creating is supposed to be personalized to your goals, so this will be somewhat vague.  At the end of the article there will be a template you can try out, but make it your own!  

Here’s what you’ll need for creating a workout program:  

  1. Establish your goals – Any good fitness program will have some component of flexibility, strength, and endurance, but which one do you want the most?  Decide on that first and that will help you determine a lot about what you should do. If your goal is weight loss, you’ll mostly want to focus on keeping rest periods between exercises short, and making sure you’re managing your diet appropriately.  
  2. Select your exercises/movement patterns – The number of exercises you choose will largely depend on how much time you have, but the types of exercises are more predictable.  You should include at least one of each of the following, as these 5 movements cover just everything that a person will do in just about any activity:
    1. Squat
    2. Hip hinge
    3. Upper body push
    4. Upper body pull
    5. Carry
  3. Make your warm up and cool down personalized to your problem areas – If you have a not-so-fun history with your back, knees, shoulders, etc… spend a little extra time on those areas with stretching or mobility drills.  Consider getting a tennis ball or foam roller out and gently massaging those areas for no more than 2 minutes for your warm up. Try some light stretching to those areas, but hold the stretches for 5-10 seconds at a time.  Make sure to keep your warm up short; 5-10 minutes is plenty. Cooldowns should be about the same amount of time, and consist of the same things – stretching, soft tissue work, etc.  
  4. Schedule your workouts – Set a time on your schedule that is exclusive to your workout.  Prioritize it. Move other obligations around your workout schedule.  Aim for 3-4 days a week.  
  5. Record it – “If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.”  If you have a specific goal in mind – getting stronger, faster, leaner, etc. you need to record what you’re doing.  This will let you progressively build up without just guessing.  

So let’s put this together a little.  Below is a template you can use and modify to your liking.  Click on the exercises to see an image of the exercise if you want a visual.  Do each exercise in order (squat → deadlift → push → row → carry → squat…) for the number of sets you feel is best for where you are right now.  If you regularly workout, try the higher number of reps/sets, but if you’re new go for the lower numbers first. Give yourself a day to test yourself on these exercises and see what weight or positions feel appropriate to reach the numbers in the table below.  Creating a workout program is easier than you think!

ExerciseWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Rest PeriodNotes
Goblet Squat2-4 sets of 10 reps2-4 sets of 12 reps2-4 sets of 14 reps2-4 sets of 16 reps60-90 secondsCan do bodyweight squats.  If you don’t have weights, use a backpack. 
Basket Deadlift2-4 sets of 6 reps2-4 sets of 8 reps2-4 sets of 10 reps2-4 sets of 12 reps60-90 secondsUse a laundry basket and put some stuff inside.  You can also use a storage box
Push Up2-4 sets of as many reps as possible (AMRAP) – record this!2-4 sets AMRAP – record this2-4 sets AMRAP – record this2-4 sets AMRAP – record this30-60 secondsCan do these on a table or counter top if doing them on the ground is too difficult
Rows2-4 sets of 15 reps2-4 sets of 18 reps2-4 sets of 20 reps2-4 sets of 22 reps30-60 secondsUse a bag or backpack if you don’t have weights
Farmer’s Carry2-4 sets of 60 seconds2-4 sets of 75 seconds2-4 sets of 90 seconds2-4 sets of 105 seconds60 secondsIf the objects you’re using as weights aren’t equal, just switch the hand each weight is in each set

Try it out 2-4 times a week and see what happens.  Good luck!  

Have questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits.  

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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