How to Structure Your Training

You Need to Workout Every Single Day

When it comes to training, the tendency is to think that more is better, that we should train every single day.  While that might be a great sentiment, it is a 100% unrealistic schedule to adhere to.  What you should do is figure how many days you can, with 100% confidence, dedicate to training.  This means taking an honest look at what your life is like, what your schedule can allow, and what you can keep up with.

This is where many people make mistakes, thinking that they want to or should train 4-5 days a week.  But their life is a stressful mess, and when they say 4-5 days, its really more like 2-3.  This can set someone up for failure.  Think about it.  If you told yourself you were going to go to the gym to train 4-5 days a week, then you wind up only going twice, how would you feel?  You’d likely feel like a failure, that you didn’t live up to expectations of yourself.

So instead of shooting for this lofty, unrealistic schedule, make a realistic one.  A schedule you can adhere to with 100% confidence.

How To Structure

Depending on how many days you decided you could confidently get to train, there are multiple ways to structure your program.  Side note: I’d recommend at least 3 days of strength training per week, but if that’s not your ideal fit, then no worries.  I would add that no more than five is a good max, as recovery time is an important part of making progress and gains.  Remember it’s not about how much you can exercise, it’s about how well you can recover from your workout and get to the next one.

Here’s your breakdown:

  • Body Part Split
  • Push/Pull
  • Upper/Lower
  • Full Body

Each one has its strengths and its drawbacks.  Some will be better suited for whichever amount of time you’re committing to.

 

Body Part Split

Back in my younger days when I first started lifting, this was the routine I went for.  Mostly because I had the time to do such workouts.  What a body part split essentially is, is breaking you into parts, and solely focusing on that one group for that day. There was a day for chest, back, legs (sometimes), a day for shoulders and a day for just arms.  Cause you gotta get swole!

This ended up creating a high amount of volume for each body part, and it does produce results.  The one drawback is that it’s incredibly inefficient and time consuming as you wouldn’t get back to that muscle group until a week later.  Plus it required at least 4-5 days of training hard and that limits recovery ability as well.  So if that doesn’t fit your scheduling availability, then you’re probably going to have to move on to a different style of programming.

Upper/Lower

With this style of programming, two days per week are devoted to lower body lifts and two days for upper body lifts.  Makes sense?  Your lower body days will consist of squatting, hinging, and some single leg exercises.  You could break this down further into a squat focused lower body day and a hinge focused day.

As far as the upper body day, you could look at doing vertical movements one day, say pull-ups and overhead press for example.  Then on the second upper body day, perform horizontal movements like the bench and row.  The choice is yours.  Ideally this works when you have 4 days to train, but you can get away with 3 if you’re creative with your exercise choices.

Push/Pull

Setting up your program in a push/pull fashion takes attention away from body parts and focuses more on the body’s movement patterns. Two days are devoted to pulling movements, meaning you may see exercises like deadlifts or RDL’s but also pull-ups, and different row variations.

The other days will see pushing movements like bench, overhead press, squats, and maybe even some step-ups for fun.  This type of set up typically works when you have 4 days to train, and can promote balance between training the front and back sides of the body.

Full Body

Short on time or days in which you can train?  This may be the perfect way to schedule your weight training. With this comes the important need to employ solid recovery strategies after each workout and in between each session.  Because you’re using and taxing every muscle in the body on any given day, recovery is vital so you can have your muscles firing on all cylinders.

This style trains the body as a whole which can be more efficient if you don’t have many days in which to lift.  It can be altered to fit 2, 3, or 4 days a week, plus its a great way for beginners to get familiar with the gym and with certain exercises.

Upper/Lower/Full

One last option is going with a schedule where you will do an upper/lower split with a third day being a full body workout.  This actually is successful with many of my clients that train three times a week.  What ends up happening is devoting two days towards strength workouts and then a third day that is more of a full body conditioning/strength session.  This allows them to utilize the strength that they are building from the first two days.

 

Takeaway

Your weight lifting schedule is largely going to depend on two things.  What your goal is and how much time you can commit to your training.  You have to have a clear definition of your goal in order to see what schedule may work best for you, but ultimately time is going to be your biggest factor as well.

 

Remember, the best weight training schedule is the one you can stick to with and consistently see results.

 

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