How To Create A Workout Plan

how to create a workout plan

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Create Your Own Workout Whenever You Want

Take it from an ex-personal trainer: making your own workouts is actually quite easy. As part of our promise to you, DIY Nation, we’re going to show you how to plug together a basic workout you can do from home. You’ll have the power to create a new workout routine for yourself whenever you want!

Basic Workout Blueprint

Workouts need three basic things: an adjustment period, focused exercises, and purpose. The last two are interrelated, but let’s break them down anyway.

  • You need to give yourself time, before and after your workout, to adjust to what you’re doing. Yes, you need to adjust to ‘not moving’ just as much as you need to ready your body for movement.
  • Chose exercises that pertain to the goals of your present fitness needs.
  • Build your programs with purpose in mind. Each program should lead naturally to the next (wait… you mean to say that they have to be progressive? Weird!).

Adjustment Period

Alternatively known as warm-up and cooldown, this portion of your workout program can be as long as you like. Industry bare-ass minimum for a warm-up is typically five minutes, but you’ll do yourself a big favor if you do a targeted warm-up.

What does that mean? If you’re going for a run, walk for a bit first. Working legs? Do leg-focused work (walk, bike, some bodyweight squats or lunges, etc.) that warm up your muscles. Upper body? Honestly, swing your arms. Or row! Like goes with like, so keep that in mind.

Your workout will be much more effective and safe if you’ve properly warmed up.

When you finish your workout, make sure to cool down. This can be walking at the end of a run, using a very lightweight (or bodyweight) to finish a set, and eventually stretching. And yes, you do want to stretch—keep those muscles limber!

Focused ExercisesEasy At-Home Workout Blueprint

We’re going to talk about muscle groups, here. Typically, programming is approached in segments: upper, lower; front, back; push, pull. Your best option is to look at your schedule and see how much time you have to devote to exercise in a week and then plan your workout segments off of that.

If you have four hours each week you can devote to exercise, then you can choose to do four days of one hour or six days of half hours with one hour on the seventh day, or… you get the idea. If you want to do a little bit every day, you’ll want to work with segments that don’t overlap and work on a different segment each day.

You have many muscles in your body, but for the purpose of simplicity, let’s go with the most common movers:

  • chest or pectoral muscles (upper, front, push)
  • triceps or back of arms (upper, back, push)
  • shoulders or deltoids (upper, front, push)
  • abs (upper, front, pull)
  • biceps or front of arms (upper, front, pull)
  • quadriceps or front of legs (lower, front, push)
  • hamstrings or back of legs (lower, back, pull)
  • butt or glutes (lower, back, mostly push)
  • upper back or rhomboids (upper, back, pull)
  • back or latissimus dorsi (upper, back, pull)
  • lower back or erector spine (upper, back, pull)
  • calves (lower, back, push)

So now you have your list. Approach it like the buffet it is and pick exercises that match your goals! We have a variety of workouts you can check out here, for inspiration, or you can turn to the internet and search there.

Your duration of workouts can be anywhere from twenty minutes to one hour. You can do four muscles or hit each one. You can do one set of exercises per muscle, or multiple sets (and then also 3-20 reps per set).


Next, we have the purpose behind your workout. This tempers what you do above (hence their inter-relatedness), so make sure you know why you’re working out first! Weight loss, muscle building (if you are looking to gain weight read this blog post), endurance, function… each has its own merits and each requires a slightly different approach.

For the purpose (sorry for the pun) of this article, let’s assume we just want to get more fit and functional. Teaching all the nitty-gritty is beyond the scope of this article, but we’re open to doing more if you ask!

To improve your overall fitness, you’ll want to approach your workouts in one of the following ways: circuit training, multiple sets, or single set. It’ll depend on your tolerance to exercise and present level of ability.

Circuit training means repeating the same exercises until you are exhausted. Multiple sets mean doing 2-3 sets per exercise. And a single set is just that: do it once, and stop.

If you’re working out every other day, you can easily do full-body programs when you workout. You’re able to work each muscle to fatigue, using the variations you like best. Typically, full-body workouts are 45-60 minutes long to facilitate this.

If you’re working out every day, then you’ll need to look at the brackets in the muscle list. You should build your programs off of upper/lower, front/back, or push/pull so you avoid injury or overtaxing yourself. You can do shorter workouts if you’re working out every day if you like since you’ll be fully exhausting one segment at a time.


Circuit Training: total body fun. There are major and minor movers (think main body and your extremities), and you’ll want to focus more on your major movers for a circuit. Circuits need some cardio elements mixed in with your weight-bearing exercises.

Multiple Sets: total body or segmented workouts. If you choose the total body, think of 2-3 exercises for each of the legs, chest, back, and arms. If you’re doing a segmented workout, you can do 2-3 exercises per muscle group in the list above based on upper/lower, front/back, or push/pull. Day 1 can be upper and day 2 can be lower, for example.

Single Set: if you’re doing total-body, you can try doing an AMRAP workout (do reps until you literally cannot do one more) or use it as a baseline to see where your tolerance is. Segmented workouts are pretty similar, just follow the established parameters for splitting up your workouts.

Sample circuit: pick 7 muscles from the above list, pick two exercises for each muscle, and do 20 reps of each with 1 minute of cardio between each set of 20. Repeat if you have time!

Sample multiple sets: 2-3 sets per muscle listed above for total body. 3-5 sets if doing a segmented workout. Rest 30 seconds between each set. Reps can vary, depending on your goal, but to keep it simple, aim for 8-12 reps.

Sample single set: AMRAP is a simple way of getting this done. Start with a bodyweight program so you know your body’s own limits and test yourself to see how many squats, pushups, lunges, etc. you’re able to do—or see how long you can hold a plank for. You can use this as a way to grow your workout plans for your next program.


Clear as mud! Workouts are easy to compile, hard to execute, and difficult to balance. Try your best to balance out your program, but keep in mind the basic rules: adjust to your workout, mix and match the exercises you want to do, plan with purpose, and cool down when you’re done.

Do you want further assistance with your workouts? Contact us!

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How To Create A Workout Plan