Every week we get direct messages, emails, and comments asking us “What is the best workout plan?”
Our response is always the same: the best workout plan is a personalized one.
So today, we are going to give you the tools you need to create a personalized workout.
And the best news of all?
So, let’s jump into it. Here is how to create a personalized workout plan that includes exercise and nutrition.
Table of Contents
First, you need to assess your abilities.
Taking your current abilities into account is the starting point of every personalized exercise plan. Here are the three questions you need to ask yourself to assess your abilities.
Now, let’s break them down individually and look at how they will affect your workout plan.
In this context, body composition refers to your ratio of lean muscle to body fat.
We recommend that you check in on your current body composition before you start your workout plan. Taking into account your current composition can help you establish your goals and give you a way to track progress.
If your fitness goals are rooted in body composition, take a photo of yourself or get an Inbody analysis that you can refer back to.
Interested in changing your body composition? Here are our 7 best tips.
Think back to the last time you worked out. What movements could you easily do and what movements were difficult or even painful?
Write your answers down, as this information will come in handy when you pick exact exercises later on.
For the best results, have a professional fitness coach assess your movement.
The key to getting results from your workout plan is finding the sweet spot of difficulty. You don’t want something too easy or too tough. The perfect amount of exercise will challenge you but just enough to where you can remain consistent.
So think back to different workouts you’ve done. What has been too easy and what was too tough?
Write this down because your answer will dictate how long your weight training and cardio workouts will be and what they will consist of.
If you have access to an airbike or a rower you can use these specific tests to measure work capacity:
For the last part of your assessment, take stock of your resources.
You need to understand your resources. They will have a direct impact on your personalized workout plan.
(Love fitness? Learn our method of assessment here.)
Now you know your starting point, it’s time to define your goals.
First, start by asking yourself why do you want to work out?
Then, don’t settle for the surface answer. Dig deeper into your truer motivations.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then why is this important to you?
Is it to be an example for your family? Or is it to reach your full potential as a human?
Whatever it is, understanding your true motivation will make it easier to stick to your personalized workout plan.
Next, create a SMART goal.
This is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.
If you want to gain muscle, an example is: “I want to gain 2 pounds of lean muscle mass in two months”.
If you want to lose weight, an example is: “I want to lose 3 pounds of body fat in two months”.
These are SMART goals because they are specific (a number of pounds), measurable (pounds can be measured), achievable (it isn’t a drastic goal), relevant (the weight loss or gain is correlated to your goal), and time-based (includes a duration of time).
If you’re new to working out, then we recommend that you start with smaller goals first that are focused on consistency. For example, doing 30 minutes of movement, 3 days a week for a month. These smaller goals will be easier to complete, and as you succeed they will build your confidence.
With the information from the assessment and your goals in hand, it is time to create your personalized workout plan.
A balanced workout plan for general health should include a combination of weight training (resistance training) and cardio (aerobic training).
We like to combine these two types of exercise because resistance training creates a great metabolic advantage, while a strong aerobic system will help you recover faster and boost your immune system.
We will cover how to create two personalized workout plans: one for beginners and one for more advanced individuals.
If you don’t know where you fall, then start with the beginner program. Even advanced individuals will see results.
If you are a beginner, exercise between 4 and 5 times a week.
On 2 to 3 of those days, do full-body weight training workouts.
On the other days, do sustainable cardio workouts. These days may be in the gym, but can also be activities outside the gym, such as walks, hikes, bike rides, and playing outdoor sports.
Alternate between resistance and aerobic training throughout the week.
Monday: Weight Training (Full body)
Tuesday: Walk, Hike, or Bike
Wednesday: Weight Training (Full body)
Thursday: Walk, Hike, or Bike
Friday: Weight Training (Full body)
Saturday: Active rest day
Sunday: Active rest day
If you are advanced, then you’ll likely exercise between 4 and 6 days a week.
On 2-4 of those days, you can lift weights. Split those training days up between upper and lower body days.
On the other days, do sustainable cardio workouts and stay active by walking on your non-training days.
Monday: Weight Training (Upper body)
Tuesday: Cardio (Rowing, Biking, or Walking)
Wednesday: Weight Training (Lower body)
Thursday: Weight Training (Upper body)
Friday: Cardio (Rowing, Biking, or Walking)
Saturday: Weight Training (Lower body)
Sunday: Active rest day
Now that you have the weekly split, let’s lay in the exercises for each day.
For weight training, six movement patterns make up all of the exercises you find in the gym; squat, bend, lunge, push, pull, and core.
If you are a beginner, train 5-6 of these patterns every time you workout. You can read about the benefits of full-body workouts here.
If you are more advanced, divide these movement patterns up into upper (push, pull, and core) and lower (squat, bend, lunge, and core) body exercises.
Then choose one exercise from each pattern. Here is a video list of all the exercises in each movement pattern.
When writing exercises for a training day, order them from the most complex to least complex.
Multi-joint compound movements come first in the training day. Examples include the squat, bench press, and the deadlift.
Simple-single joint movements come next. Examples include shoulder lateral raises, bicep curls, and leg extensions.
For example:A) Bench Press, @3010, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
B1) Bent Over Barbell Row, @2021, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
B2) Landmine Press, @2021 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
C1) Seated Single Arm Bicep Curl, @2021 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
C2) Chest Supported Cable Tricep Pushdown, @2021 10-12 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
Choose Rep Ranges, Sets, and Rest Time
When choosing rep ranges for beginners, we prefer anywhere between 8-15 reps. This rep range is the best for developing your motor control and muscle endurance. A common number of sets for beginners is 2-4.
As you become more advanced, you can perform lower repetitions at higher loads to develop strength endurance and eventually, maximal contractions.
Lastly, don’t forget your rest time. While it’s popular to hit exercises back to back for maximum intensity, taking breaks between exercises is important. Rest allows you to recover and then perform the same exercise at a similar intensity.
Quality over Quantity
When you’re weight training, the goal is to learn the movement patterns and create tension in the muscle.
To see the best results, you need to keep this in mind and focus on the quality of movement over quantity. Reps with poor quality and tension will reinforce bad patterns and be ineffective. 20 really good reps are better than 100 really bad ones.
Cardio workouts are sustainable aerobic exercise performed for an extended period of time. Cardio has a host of health benefits including improved immune function, cognitive function, and quicker recovery.
To create a cardio workout choose a form of exercise. We like walking, biking, rowing, hiking, and running.
Next, pick a duration or distance and go at a pace that you can easily complete. Start by completing the exercise for the determined duration or distance. Then over time start increasing the duration or distance.
Slowly increasing the workout over time will ensure that your cardio progression stays sustainable, which is the key to building your aerobic system.
Sample Cardio Workout Progression:
Week 1: Walk for 20 Minutes
Week 2: Walk for 30 Minutes
Week 3: Walk for 40 Minutes
Week 4: Walk for 50 Minutes
Week 1: Bike 4 miles
Week 2: Bike 5 miles
Week 3: Bike 6 miles
Week 4: Bike 7 miles
This may seem simple, but it is highly effective. To build your cardiovascular fitness, you need to do slow and easy movement that is easily repeatable. Give it a try and you will be surprised by the base you can build.
Sample Beginner Full Body Workout Plan:
A1) Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift @3030, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
A2) Dumbbell Bench Press @2111, 8-10 reps x 3 sets ; rest 60 seconds
B1) Goblet Squat @3311, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
B2) Seated Lat Pull Down @3012, 8-10 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 secondsC) Banded Dead Bug @3030, 10-12 reps x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds
Sample Advanced Workout Plan:
Upper Body Training Day:A) Weighted Pull Up @1221, 3-4 reps x 4 sets x 3 sets; rest 2-3 minutes
B1) Seated Dumbbell Press @2121, 5-6 reps x 3 sets; rest 90 seconds
B2) Single Arm Landmine Row @2121, 5-6 reps x 3 sets; rest 2 minutes
C1) Dumbbell Fly @2121, 8-10 x 3 sets; rest 90 seconds
C2) Plate Loaded Deadbug 10 per leg x 3 sets; rest 90 seconds
Lower Body Training Day:A) Romanian Deadlift @1120, 3-4 reps x 4 sets; rest 2-3 minutes
B) Front Rack Split Squat @2121, 5-6 reps x 3 sets; rest 2 minutes
C1) Kettlebell Front Rack Wall Sit, 30-45 seconds x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds
C2) Weighted Front Plank, 60 seconds x 3 sets, rest 90 seconds
Have you heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”?
Well, it’s true. Your nutrition plays a large role in reaching your health and fitness goals.
But it’s also the trickiest part of the equation. With so much information out there it can be tough to understand where to start.
That’s why we recommend you start by mastering the OPEX Basic Lifestyle Guidelines before you adjust any part of your nutrition. These guidelines are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and when mastered will have a dramatic impact on your goals.
While the BLGs are simple to understand, they are tough to master. Resist the urge to skip ahead to the next step and put them into place first.
Now with the BLGs mastered you can think about specific foods. First, prioritize quality whole foods. These are unprocessed foods that come straight from nature.
If you’re new to the concept of whole foods, a paleo food list is a great resource to look at. While we don’t recommend the paleo diet for everyone, this resource is a great way to learn about whole foods.
Let’s briefly address the idea that calories are king. Yes, your caloric intake matters. But before you begin tracking calories, we recommend mastering the BLGs and food quality.. Most of the time these two steps alone are enough for most to reach their health goals.
If you are still interested in counting calories or macros, you can read a detailed article about our thoughts here.
There is no way around it.
You will have to change your behaviors and challenge yourself if you want results.
But it can be done.
A personalized workout plan will make it that much easier, and unlike random workouts from Instagram, this plan will take into account the most important variable, you.
If you need help creating a workout plan find an OPEX Gym near you and one of our coaches will work with you to design a personalized program. From there, they will monitor your progress and work with you to reach your goals.
Helping people reach their goals through exercise and nutrition is a fulfilling experience.
It is also a skill that can be learned.
In just six months you can become an independent fitness coach, running your own small business and dramatically impacting the lives of those around you.
Download our free curriculum guide today and learn exactly how you can become a fitness coach with our Coaching Certificate Program (CCP).