A well structured weight training programme is a vital tool for increasing ones fitness and strenght. There are thousands and thousands of pre-made weight training programmes out there, some of which are useful while others are a waste of time and energy. The truth is your lifting routine has to suit your own individual goals and abilities. Luckily, it is extremely easy to design your own. It is important to remember that there are a few dos and don’ts that one must consider before going about designing their routine.

Keep it to two or three days a week. Depending on your schedule, you will have certain days where weight training is not an option. Remember, for your routine to be productive it must be done regularly but is important ensure you do not lift more than three days a week. You need rest days to recover and build muscle for your programme to work.

Focus on one of the main three compound lifts, one each day. These lifts are the squat, the deadlift and the bench press. These lifts are quite simply the most important lifts in any strength building routine. Go all out on these – lift heavy for low amount of reps (3 – 8 reps per set). The 5X5 methods have become very popular for this reason (5 sets of 5 reps). For example, on day one start with the bench press, day two start on the deadlift and day three start on the squat. Also add relevant assistance exercises to your routine on these days.

Work large muscle groups. There is nothing wrong with isolation exercises and you can add them into your routine if that suits your needs, but for improving strength gains they just don’t cut it. Focus on lifts that work large muscle groups and core strength such as the three main compound lifts, the military press, pull-ups/chin-ups and bent-over rows.

Keep sessions short, and don’t have too many exercises built into each day. Many people try to fit too many exercises into a workout. This results in either over training or slow progress. By keeping it to three of four exercises a day you can really push those lifts to the limit – which is the most effective way to gain strength. By keeping your workouts to around 45 minutes long you are more likely to stick with it, and your workouts don’t take a huge chunk of time out of your day.

One example of a pre-made routine which is tried and trusted is ‘Starting Strenght’ – by Mark Rippetoe. This routine can give you an example of how a programme should be made. Rippetoes book is also an essential read for anybody interested in buidling max strength. 



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