Designing A Training Program: Layout And The Basics!

This article is slightly slanted more towards beginner to intermediate levels, but no matter how advanced you are, there is always something you can learn. Learn about split training, rest time, when to train, and how many days to train.

Now that we have taken some time to consider our goals and why we need a training schedule, its time to take on some more aspects. If you're a beginner, one of your main tasks should be to build up a nice strong base of muscle mass. I'm talking about good healthy muscle here, not bulky fat. If your a little more advanced and already have a good base, your task is to gain a good physique through shaping and balancing your muscle.

For the beginners, basically you need to put in some hard training with some heavy weights. Working out weak after weak will make your body respond to this new strain by building stronger and bigger muscle. Now don't get me wrong, just because you might be a little new to this doesn't mean that the only exercise your going to do is bench presses. You should be performing at least 25 good exercises that are specifically designed to develop the major muscles of the body.

At the end of this intense period you should have lots of healthy hardcore muscle! This will be the material that you can shape into the perfect physique or what ever your goals might be. This initial period that I'm talking about, can last anywhere from three weeks to six years. It all depends on how much motivation and energy your able to put into your training, body type, and genetics. Lets face it, some peoples bodies/genetics are just gifted a little more then others when it comes to packing on muscle. Although, no matter how slow your body might develop muscle, the skies the limit, it just may take a little more time and dedication.


This article is slightly slanted more towards beginner to intermediate levels, but no matter how advanced you are, there is always something you can learn. (More advanced articles are soon to come in this series!)

Split Training

When I say split training, I'm referring to dividing up a training schedule so that you only work some of your muscles in every session. It used to be that professional bodybuilders would try and work the whole body three times per week. They did this by only doing 3 to 4 sets for each muscle group. As time went on they found that by working on more of a split schedule they could do more sets of more exercises which would intern lead to better workouts with better results.

I generally recommend using the following splits in schedules:

  • 3 day split (taking 3 days to train the entire body). This will usually entail training each body part 2 times per week.
  • 2 day split (taking 2 days to train the entire body). This will usually entail training each body part 3 times per week.
Rest Time

When planning a schedule, it's very important to include rest days. Whenever the body is put under intense strains it will require time to recuperate and repair its self. This is the time when it has the chance to build strength and mass. I can't stress enough how important it is to get a good night sleep. This means you need to be getting at least eight hours of sleep a night. Ask any bodybuilder how important sleep is and I'm sure it will be quite near the top of their list. Also, it's important to get your priorities straight. If your main goal is to build large amounts of muscle and mass, it is important that you don't exhaust yourself doing other sports and physical activities. It's also very important to rest on your rest days. Sure, you can get out of bed and get a little physical, but don't go out and bike 50 miles. If this is done, you won't be able to work at all the next day in the gym. For all you athletes out there that have training to do other than lifting, it would be wise to make a schedule with more rest days then workout days in it. This way you will also have time to do your other training as well.

When to Train

This aspect is totally up to you. Some people prefer to train in the mornings, while other like afternoons or nights. If you think you perform better in the mornings but also have school or a job to worry about, there is no problem with getting up a little early and doing your workout. This might just take a bit more dedication on your part, but hey, the more dedication, the better results! Just do a little self-evaluation of when you think you work the best, or hey, why not ask a partner and get their opinion when your putting out the most intense energy!

Number of Days

The number of days that you choose to workout is strictly up to you. If all your doing is bodybuilding, then sure, you can workout five or six days a week. If you have other training that needs to be accomplished, then that number may be reduced to four, three, or even two. Just pick however many days that fit into your schedule and bust your butt!

Hopefully now a little better picture is being formed in your head of what a training schedule is and the aspects and details behind it. At this point you should have a general idea of what you should think about when you sit down and plot out a schedule. You can probably even sit down and make a pretty decent one right now. In the next part of this series I will give some examples of programs that one might use or build on. Until then, consider what you have just read and draw out a possible schedule that you think might work out and give you good results.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at

*Jeff G*