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How to make a workout plan

training journal

We get a lot of emails from beginners asking us for help in creating their workout routines.

Making your workout routines sounds simple but most people find it to be extremely difficult and confusing. Before helping you learn how to sketch your workout routine, I would like to say a few words about the importance about a good workout routine.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 

Now it may sound harsh but most people who start working out will never reach their goals.
The reason behind it is crystal clear. Most people start working for a dream that’s just only a dream! They don’t have a clear cut action plan to achieve that dream. It’s like being blindfolded and trying to reach your destination!! How are you gonna know which way you need to go and how far you are from your destination?

That’s why everyone needs a workout plan. The importance of a good workout plan is:

  1. It actually helps you stick to it. You may find it a hurdle in beginning but a good workout plan soon becomes a habit.
  2. It helps you measure progress. This makes you feel like all the effort you are putting in is worth something.
  3. It creates time efficiency and gives you goals to shoot for.
  4. It allows you to focus on the bodyparts you want to develop and is customizable according to your body composition.

You may be aware that I am a former swimmer. I was lucky enough to have an amazing coach and I learned from him that success comes when you train religiously with discipline and schedule. Too many people think hardwork is necessary for success. They don’t understand that hardwork leads to success only when it is done according to a smartly designed schedule with dedication and consistency.

A good training program or a workout routine when faithfully followed over a long period of time can actually give you incredible results. It’s the only difference in those who make it and those who don’t.

A good workout plan is developed around a person’s capabilities, age, goals, time available, diet etc. and therefore is so integral to his/her success and achieving his/her goals.

Let’s now talk about how to create one for yourself that is specifically tailored to your capabilities and needs:

  1. Determine your situation:

    Find out how much time you can devote to exercise. Be it 2 hours everyday or just 30 minutes everyday. Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is essential. Why spend 2 hours if you can get a vigorous workout in just 1 hour?
  2. What exercises you should do?Unless you have been training for years we recommend you to do full body workouts 3-4 times a week. You should choose a few variations of fundamental exercises like pushups, pullups, dips, squats, leg raises, jumps, sprints etc. Perform a few variations of each and you will work every single muscle in your body.If your going to do daily workouts then you should choose a muscle group (for example chest, shoulder, triceps) and do 5-6 variations of a fundamental exercise that targets them (regular pushups, decline pushups, clapping pushups, pike pushups, handstand pushups, dips etc.). In this way you can do daily workouts targeting different muscle groups taking care to give ample rest to muscle groups you have worked a day before.
  3. How many sets, reps and rest interval?This is difficult to answer because every individual is different. You need to try different things and figure it out for yourself. Some people like doing a large number of sets whereas others like to keep the sets limited and the intensity of exercise high. Our free pdf guide on our website will help you a lot.You should not limit yourself to one category, instead you should train with high sets and reps as well as low reps and low sets of a difficult exercise.In the beginning choose easier version of exercise and keep the sets moderate and high. As you grow stronger, you can increase the reps and sets according to your goals. When you can do a lot of sets of moderately high to very high reps, it’s time to move to a difficult version of exercise.
    You should try to rest as little as possible between the sets. Ideally keep your rest times below 1 minute 30 seconds.You can also try pyramid sets, dropsets, supersets and circuit training to bring variety in your training routine according to your abilities. For more suggestions visit our YouTube channel.
  4. Importance of a training journalWe cannot stress the importance of a training journal in a single article. Let it be said that if you want to progress with your training for a long time then keeping a proper training journal is of paramount importance to you. In a few words a training journal helps you with learning, provides informations for analysis, and helps with tracking progress.Follow this example about how you should create your workout routines:

Monday: pullups -> dips -> pushups -> leg raises. (the same pattern applies to pullups, leg raises and dips family as for pushups given in the example above);
Tuesdayjump rope -> squats -> sprints
: dips -> pushups
Thursday: squats -> leg raises
Friday: pullups -> pushups

Monday: dips -> pushups -> leg raises
: sprints -> jump rope -> squats
Thursday: dips -> pushups
Friday: pullups -> leg raises

Monday: pullups -> dips -> pushups -> leg raises
Tuesday: sprints -> squats
Wednesday: rest day
Thursday: pullups -> dips -> pushups -> leg raises

What else to write in a journal?

  • Total reps and sets performed.
  • How you felt during and after workout.
  • Notes on any pain, difficulty or discomfort felt during any particular movement.
  • Hours of sleep, nutritional intake, anything else that you found related to training.
  • What is the best part of your workout and what you disliked!
  • Set goals for the next week.

No matter what you are doing for health and fitness, writing a journal is a valuable tool that will help you remember details and accelerate your progress.

“Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow”. Unknown source

Adorian Moldovan and Winner Nehra

(Work hard and smart, never give up, your dream physique is coming, don’t stop, go and get it)

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Author Adorian Moldovan

Adorian Moldovan is the founder of Old School Calisthenic, a site dedicated to helping people achieve aesthetic and strong physique through bodyweight training. His calisthenics programs helped a lot of people transform their bodies. He is also the author of the programme: High-Volume Calisthenics Workouts.

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Adam says:

    I’m doing bodyweight exercise from last 2 months , I started with your are your own gym workout program with some modifications i made myself , results are good but not that good , i gain good strenght can do 30 pushups , 10 pullups , 50 squats, but my belly is not flat , i did abs workout 3 4 times a week but didnt worked , your pdf is very helpfull for all beginners, i will try this now, my question is should i do more cardio for flat belly or stick with this routine beacuse iam 21 years old and 74 kg weight with a fine belly i want to make it flat specly lower part thanks you

    • Adorian says:

      Hey Adam,

      You should definitely do more cardio routines such as running, skipping rope, swimming (if you can) and some circuit (no break) strength-endurance routines. No matter how many ABS-strength workouts you do, like leg raises, the abs will not show-up without a low bodyfat.

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