How do I schedule my workouts?
Especially if you are working out at home, it can be hard to plan your workouts of the week. Also, it is important you follow a structured plan that fits your body’s needs. Fitness should be your tool become a healthier, fit version. Strong muscles will help you prevent injuries, maintain weight or lose fat and gain self-esteem.
However, it is crucial you know your body’s limits and don’t follow somebody’s fitness plan, although that person is very advanced. Everyone starts somewhere and you need to follow a plan that teaches you the proper moves and builds a stronger, leaner version of YOU.
The following plans are basic and can be used by Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced trainees. Make sure to push yourself hard during your workouts but if something hurts – stop. It is better to take it slow than to end up injured … .
How to Schedule your Workouts
Why it is important to follow a schedule
For anyone who is new into fitness and working out, I definitely recommend following a program for the first 4-8 weeks. When I was first starting to work out, I did not know anything about workout splits and how to train to build a balanced body.
I started training because of back pain and I was told I need to strengthen my upper back and muscles surrounding the hips. So, I did rowing exercises and Squats, Lunges etc. every day. It was effective in the first couple of weeks, as I had literally no muscle mass and doing something was better than nothing. At first, I did bodyweight exercises but then I progressed to water bottles 🙂 As I was trying to lift heavier, working out every day the same muscle groups began to become impossible due to the soreness. Plus, it really was not fun at all. I have been into sports my whole life, so I have always enjoyed moving but doing the same thing day after day was not a pleasure at all.
When I started reading about sports science, I found out how to effectively train your whole body. Since then, training is my hobby and it helped me to become and stay pain-free.
The following contains a guide for a beginner, an intermediate and an advanced exerciser.
Who this Guide is for: You are just starting out training or you have been working out less than a year
4-8 weeks: Total Body workouts 3x per week + 2 additional Cardio sessions. As a beginner, it does not make any sense to start with body part splits. Your body needs to get used to the new stimulus and increase the metabolism. You need to build a connection between the brain and the muscles, so that you can activate each muscle when we progress to body part splits later.
Also, after your strength training session, do 5-10 Minutes of Pilates Abs Exercises. Read more about the importance of that here. This will build a strong core, which is needed to lift as heavy as you can once you progress.
Example of a training week:
- Monday: Total Body Strength Training 30-45 min + Abs
- Tuesday: Cardio-Session 30 min
- Wednesday: Total Body Strength Training 30-45min + Abs
- Thursday: Cardio-Session 30 min
- Friday: Total Body Strength Training 30-45min + Abs
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Active Rest (go walking for 30 min)
Example of a Total Body Workout
Do 1-2 Sets per exercise, Supersets
- Squats – 15x & Push ups – 10x (either from knees or toes)
- Deadlifts – 15x & Bent over Rows – 15x
- Glute Bridge – 20x & Rear Delt Fly – 10x
- Lunges – 15x & Overhead Press – 12x
Finish with Pilates Abs Exercises
Who this Guide is for: You are familiar with weight training and would like to furthermore shape some body parts.
Body Part Split: Upper- and Lower Body
When you progress to splitting up your training sessions, it is best to start with Upper- and Lower Body Training. Complete body part splits (Chest, Back, Arms etc.) are effective if your really want to build muscle and are into bodybuilding. I personally favor Upper- and Lower Body Part Splits.
Still, I customize my workouts so they fit my own needs. As I need to strengthen my Upper Back, I do not work my Chest much. However, I include exercise for the Back and Latissimus dorsi in every Upper Body workout.
Example of a workout week:
- Monday: Lower Body Workout 30-60min (depends on how much time you have)+ Abs
- Tuesday: Upper Body Workout 30-60min
- Wednesday: Lower Body Workout 30-60min + Abs
- Thursday: Upper Body Workout 30-60min
- Friday: Cardio 30min + Abs Workout
- Saturday: Cardio 30min
- Sunday: Rest
If you are more advanced, add in some HIIT into/after your workouts or on Cardio days. It will help increase the metabolism and burn more fat.
If you want to add more size especially to your Glutes, train the Lower Body 3x/week. Check out my article on how to train the Glutes 3x/week without risking overtraining!
Sample Workout for the Upper Body
Do 2-3 sets (4 if you can), superset
- Scarecrows- 20x
- Bodyweight Reverse Fly – 20x
- Seated Band Row – 15x & Push up -10x
- One arm Row– 10x & Overhead Press – 10x (one arm if you can)
- Squat with Tricep Extension – 10x & Back Bows (Raise your arms as much as you can) – 10x
5-10 min of Abs Exercises
If you are short on time, try this split:
- Monday: Total Body Strength Training 45 min
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday: Lower Body Strength + HIIT/Abs
- Thursday: Upper Body Strength + HIIT/Abs
- Friday: Cardio 30 min / Rest
- Saturday: Either just HIIT + Abs or Total Body Strength Training + HIIT
- Sunday: Rest
You can also do 3x Total Body Workouts and additional Cardio/HIIT if you have time. Just focus on lifting as heavy as you can!
Who this Guide is for: You have perfect form on most/all exercises and lift as heavy as you can each session. You have already reached your aesthetic goals and now just want to focus on being fit and healthy (maintaining).
As an advanced exerciser, you already have decent muscle mass. You can work with an Upper-/Lower Body split, or use a body part split (Chest – Back – Quads etc.).
If you are short on time, you can get away with just one to two workouts per week. You will not build additional muscle mass or burn fat but they will be sufficient to maintain your current state of leanness. Just make sure you lift as heavy as you can and really focus on your form.
Play around with repetitions, sets, rest time and overall volume. You should still try to progress each session.
If you are happy with your muscle mass and do not want to build more, lower the weights and increase the repetitions and add in more HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to challenge your fitness and stay lean.
My checklist when I schedule my workout week
- How much time do I have?
- Which body parts do I want to work the most?
- What is my current goal? Losing fat, maintenance, building muscle are all different goals you could have.
Here is an example for a normal week for me (at the university):
- Time? → on the weekend, during the week around 3x, so 5x total, 60-90 min per day, in the evening
- Body Parts? → Back, Core, Glutes
- Current goal? → Build muscle, maintain, general fitness
A sample week of training
- Monday: whole day at the university; maybe 15 min of Pilates or Stretching in the evening
- Tuesday: Lower Body Strength (heavy weights, Glutes and Hamstrings focused) + short HIIT
- Wednesday: Upper Body Strength + HIIT + Abs Routine
- Thursday: Whole day at the University; maybe 15 min of Stretching/ foam roller in the evening
- Friday: Lower Body Strength (lighter weights) + short HIIT
- Saturday: Upper Body Strength + moderate Cardio + Abs Routine
- Sunday: Lower Body Strength (heavy weights, Glute focused)
As I am on vacation at the moment, I still work out 5-6 times per week but I mostly do Total Body Workouts. I don’t have heavy weights here so I do not get sore. It has been 3 weeks and I have not lost any muscle, which I am very proud of. In the past, I always lost weight on vacation …
- Never train a body part 2 days in a row: Recovery is very important for achieving any fitness goal.
- Do not feel bad if you have to skip a workout. I read this quote somewhere and I always remind myself of it:
” It doesn’t matter if you are in the gym today or tomorrow, what matters is if you will be there in 20 years”.
- Find ways to make working out enjoyable for yourself. Don’t to strength training every day, try new sports and always remember why you started this. You want to be fit and healthy not only now but in 10, 20 years. It’s totally fine to have short-term aesthetic goals but never get lost in those “OMG, my thighs are so big”– thoughts, always try to look at the bigger picture…
I hope you find this Guide useful to schedule your own workout week. I always plan my week ahead on Sunday but adjust it during the week. Don’t panic if you don’t get in all your workouts, adjust your plan and then try to stick with it.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend!
As always, let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for new topics I could write about!