How To Create A Workout Plan: Step-By-Step

Developing Your Workout – DIY Style

Almost every workout you come across from the internet or from your personal trainer will almost always have you doing 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions (that varies of course but that is the general format). That system does make for a great workout and produces fitness results but the scary thing is that almost no one ever questions it. Why not do 2 to 5 sets? Why that many reps? If you are developing your workout routine these are some very important questions to consider.

It’s not that hard – developing your workout

Why 3 Sets? Why 8-12 Reps?

Three sets are normally prescribed due to the results of a study from 1948 that determined 3 sets of 10 was the best approach for improving leg strength which forever got imprinted on weight lifting.

As with all programs on the internet or if you begin working out with a personal trainer they all normally start out at 3 sets until they get to know you more and can determine how many sets you need in order to work you the most effective.

But honestly, does it make sense to train each specific muscle group for 3 sets of 8-12 reps? Shouldn’t your entire back need more attention than the smaller tricep muscle group?

Doing the same routine for huge muscle groups makes no sense when you consider how much larger they are, how many more calories they can help burn, and how they help improve your overall strength and quality of life!

In fact, depending on your goal, you need to work the muscle completely differently!

Give Me 3 Sets: Developing Your Workout

Determining Your Number of Sets and Reps

When it comes to developing your workout, I personally vary the number of sets depending on the specific exercise and muscle group I’m training that day.

When it comes to determining the length of your work and the number of sets, you should set it up where you are fatigued after everyone’s strength training session, no BS.

If you don’t want to follow my mantra of hitting it hard with little rest between sets (with varying sets per muscle group) one way to determine the number of sets/repetition you do is to follow this approach laid out in a article by the ISSA:

Active Rest

  • Program type: Circuit Training
  • Intensity level: Low (30- 60% of 1RM)
  • Repetitions: 15- 20
  • Total sets per muscle group: 1-3 per exercise
  • Number of exercises per muscle group: 1
  • Rest between sets: 0- 60 seconds

Hypertrophy (Muscle Mass)

  • Program type: Some type of training split tailored to your schedule
  • Intensity level: Moderate (60- 80% of 1RM)
  • Repetitions: 6- 12
  • Total sets per muscle group: Large Muscle Groups- 4- 8
  • Small Muscle Groups- 1- 3
  • Number of exercises per muscle group: 1- 4
  • Rest between sets: 60- 120 seconds

Absolute Strength

  • Program type: Some type of training split tailored to your schedule
  • Intensity level: High (80- 100+% of 1RM)
  • Repetitions: 1- 5
  • Total sets per muscle group: Large Muscle Groups- 5- 10
  • Small Muscle Groups- 2- 4
  • Number of exercises per muscle group: 1- 2
  • Rest between sets: 120- 240 seconds

While it does depend on your goals, you should do enough sets until you are fatigued, out of breath, and beat. If you leave the gym without breaking a sweat then you really need to take a look at yourself and press harder!

Vary up the number of repetitions you do between workouts to help induce all types of muscle growth.

For instance, as you add more resistance during a set, do fewer reps or you can even take away resistance and do more reps. Not only will this approach induce hypertrophy but it can also create a large EPOC effect which can have you burning calories long after the workout is over!


When it comes to developing your workout, the workout you get is totally dependent you!

The same 5 exercise workout can be incredibly hard for one person but incredibly easy for another! That same workout should fatigue both of the participants equally!

If it’s easy for you, up the repetitions! It’s all on you if you don’t get the workout you want. Always try to go to another rep, that’s where the real physical and mental growth happens!

For More See:

3 Sets of 10:

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