How to Create a Personalized Workout Plan

How to Create a Personalized Workout Plan

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?

It’s straightforward.

So, let’s jump into it. Here is how to create a personalized workout plan that includes exercise and nutrition.

How to Create a Personalized Workout Plan: EXERCISE AND NUTRITION

Table of Contents

  1. Assess your Abilities
  2. Define Your Goals
  3. Create a Personalized Exercise Plan
  4. Create a Personalized Cardio Plan
  5. Sample Workout Programs
  6. Create a Personalized Nutrition Plan

Step 1: Assess Your Abilities

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.

  • What is your body composition?
  • What are your movement abilities?
  • What is your current level of fitness?

Now, let’s break them down individually and look at how they will affect your workout plan.

What is your body composition?

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.

What are your movement abilities?

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.

What is your current level of fitness?

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:

Assess Your Resources

For the last part of your assessment, take stock of your resources.

  • How many days a week can you work out? 
  • How much time can you work out a day?
  • What fitness equipment do you have access to? 
  • How much can you spend on food?

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.)

Step 2: Define Your Goals

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.

Step 3: How to Create a Personalized Workout Plan

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.

Two Types of Workout Plans

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.

The Beginner Weekly Training Split

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.

Sample Beginner Weekly Split:

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

The Advanced Training Split

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.

Sample Advanced Weekly Split:

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

How to Choose The Right Exercises

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.

Step 4: Create a Cardio Workout Plan

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 Workout Plans

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 seconds

C)  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

Step 5: Create a Personalized Nutrition Plan

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.

The OPEX Basic Lifestyle Guidelines:

  • There are 24 hours in a day; apply work and rest appropriately
  • The sun and moon correlate with our energy patterns. Get sunshine and sleep when the moon is up
  • You will one day die; get over it and get living
  • Water, moving blood, and proper digestion are essential daily routines
  • Drink ½ of your body weight in ounces of water a day
  • Move every day. Blood flow facilitates recovery and faster healing.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Digestion; Food is a 36-44-hour investment, sit down, chew your food, enjoy your food, set the phone aside, and have a conversation. 

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.

Focus on Quality over Quantity 

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

Reaching your health and fitness goals is tough.

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.

Are you a fitness coach or interested in becoming one?

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.

Sound intriguing?

Download our free curriculum guide today and learn exactly how you can become a fitness coach with our Coaching Certificate Program (CCP).

Download the curriculum guide
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