Things You Should Know When Creating Your Own Workout Plan

Jake Thorp
Jake is a competitive crossfit athlete and 85 kg weightlifter based out of Albany, NY. He is the in-house weightlifting coach at Crossfit Beyond as well as a crossfit L1 trainer there. He has recently graduated from the College of Saint Rose and has a bachelor's of Science in Molecular biology. He has been involved with the fitness industry for over five years, between personal training, corporate fitness, crossfit, and weightlifting. During his free time he trains and competes throughout the northeast region, and enjoys experiencing the great outdoors as often as possible. Find him on Instagram @hammerofthorp for movement demos and training tips.

So you just got out of school, snagged a new apartment and walked into your first real job. You’ve realized that those past few years of going out, drinking all week and ordering out for $4.00 student specials is really starting to show on the scale; and if you’re a 20something and broke as fuck, a personal trainer probably isn’t on the top of your priorities list either.

You want to start working out, but all of the information you see or hear is so confusing that it’s difficult to come up with a structured program that you can stick with. If you’re planning to structure your own workout regimen, here are some tips to keep in mind.


Back to the basics

 Squat, press, and pull. You don’t have to one-legged squat on an exercise ball with a kettle bell over your head to achieve great fitness gains. In fact, that would be complete nonsense. Stick with the basic movements. In science, there is a philosophy known as the law of parsimony: the simplest solution is often the right one, and it is no different in strength training. If you stick with the basics – squatting, pressing overhead, and pulling from the ground with solid form – you will get your entire body stronger and avoid injury as well.

Try this: For a M/W/F split routine, backsquat on Monday, bench press and strict press on Wednesday, deadlift and bent over rows on Friday. These compound movements will be the foundation of your strength training. Accessories can be added later based on your tolerance to volume and intensity.


Master your bodyweight 

Yes, we all want to bench 315. But how do you expect that to happen if you can’t properly push yourself off the ground? Basic bodyweight movements (hmm, do you sense a recurring theme?) -pushups, situps, pullups, chin-ups, planks and other static holds – will yield incredible results and can be done nearly every day.

Try This: Your Bodyweight training should complement your heavy lifting. On days you backsquat, work on core strengthening movements likes planks and rollouts, as well as air squats to reinforce good positioning and mobility. On days you bench and press, dips and pull-ups make for a good accessory super-set. Glute-ham raises, good mornings and any core movement are a good choice on deadlift day as well.


Plan rest, but not too much

One benefit of having a trainer is to slap you in the ass when you’re dogging it between sets. However, with just a drop of discipline and a bit of knowledge you can take care of that too. Shoot for 60-90 seconds rest between “light” sets (8-10 reps) and 2-3 minutes between heavier sets (3-5 reps).


Go heavy and go light

Doing sets of 10 will get you a nice pump and help you fill out your shirt, but if you actually want to lift heavy things, you need to practice lifting heavy things. Go a few weeks of lighter sets to get that pump, and then progress yourself to heavier loads.

Two weeks of sets of tens, then two weeks of sevens, two weeks of fives, two weeks of threes, then, if you feel good, have a field day and max out.

That’s two months of reps schemes done for you right there, have fun.

Example:   Part of your week 1 split may look like something like this: Deadlift: 3 sets 10-12 reps with 90 seconds rest between sets, good mornings: 4 sets 10 reps 90 seconds rest between sets. And week 6 may look like: Deadlift: establish a 3 Rep max. Then, 4 sets 3 reps at 90% your 3-rep max, 3-4 minutes rest between sets. Good Mornings: 3 sets 5 reps with 2-3 minutes rest between sets.


Cardio for gains

Your heart is indeed a muscle – a very powerful, important one. Doing a set of 12 or 15 back squats will have you breathing heavy, condition yourself for those sets. If you actually want to see results, run hard and push yourself. You don’t have to run every single time you go lift. Two or three days of hard running for 15-20 minutes will benefit your lifting.

Try this: An effective running routine I find has worked well for my training is: 9 rounds: 1:40 sprint and: 20 rest, with a 2 minute rest after round four. This will maintain a high level of intensity while running and only take you about 20 minutes. If you have access to a rower, this works very well for rowing also. Do this after your lift, or on days your not lifting at all.


Do some research

As a 20something you have an innate ability that your past generations do not yield – navigating through YouTube. If you are unsure of how to do a movement properly, look up videos on proper form and avoid injury that will set you back.


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