Designing a gym program for maximal results – Part 1

This article is the first in a series on maximising your results at the gym.

We know the key to development is a combination of stimulation, recovery and nutrition –and that these, when addressed properly will have an impact on a fourth critical element, Hormones. We also saw how the level of stimulation necessary will vary according to your history of training and your development – and as a result the recovery necessary also varies in proportion.

Eventually, as more volume is added, a beginner’s routine will have to be split to include the necessary volume for just a few body-parts. A well designed split also enables training on consecutive days without overloading any particular body-parts.

These facts can be summarised as:

  • Body-parts require more stimulation as they develop (to prompt further development)
  • Sufficient recovery is required between sessions to allow the muscles to repair and super-compensate, however the frequency must be enough to continue positive progress

Just imagine a cup to fill a bottle, but the bottle has a small leak – if you’re too slow, the losses exceed the gains and the water level stays the same or drops – if you try to go too fast, you can’t pour accurately into the neck of the bottle and again lose ground – imagine then that as you develop, it is like the neck of the bottle getting larger, so you’re able to handle more stimulation. At the same time, the leak is larger so you require greater input (i.e. the same workout you did as a beginner would not maintain your larger size)

  • Split routines are a means of ensuring the above requirements can be optimised
  • One common factor in all workouts is the stress on the CNS (Central Nervous System) and this must also be allowed to recover.

Here are some general guidelines that I use to get people started – right through to designing programmes for advanced off-season training or competition preparation at an advanced level.

Getting started (or returning from a long break)

  • The key here is not to overdo it and be so sore that you have to take several days off – this means low weights and volume.
  • Because of the low weights and volume, you will not do a lot of muscle damage, therefore you can train more frequently without over-training and this will speed your progress. This means that even an experienced person starting again would be losing ground if they went to their last “split” that possibly had 5 to 7 days recovery on some or all body-parts – they cannot train hard enough anyway to necessitate that kind of recovery.
  • In the first week you, can train every day or possibly train the whole body every other day – so in the previous example, you would get 3 workouts in each body-part in the first week – much better than waiting 3 weeks to achieve the same stimulation!
  • I suggest just 2 or 3 sets each body-part when starting new or starting back – you might to 1 exercise for 2 or 3 sets or 2 exercises for just one set (after perhaps a warm-up set each). I generally like the latter approach
  • Next workout – add a set to each exercise. The third workout would take you up to 3 sets each exercise.

It might look something like this

The weight selections will vary greatly depending on the person, their sex, their age, and whether or not they have trained before. Weights are therefore just given as “W”. Reps have been set at “10” for simplicity – a reasonable target for starting out. Higher reps (10, 12, 15) are better as they’re safer and provide for greater work volume and hence faster conditioning. Later, AMP Your Workout would help predict the ideal targets. The convention is Sets x Reps x Weight.

Body-part Exercise Day 1 (Monday) Day 2 (Tuesday) Day 3 (Wednesday)
Quads Squats – barbell

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Squats – Hack
Hams Sumo squats

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Lunges
Lower back Deadlift

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Chest Incline bench

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Flat Bench

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Upper back Cable pull downs

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Cable rows

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Shoulders Barbell press

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Dumbbell Lateral

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

Dumbbell rear

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

Triceps Cable Extension

1 x 10 x W

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

Lying EZ extn

1 x 10 x W

1 x 10 x W

Biceps EZ curl

1 x 10 x W

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

DB curl

1 x 10 x W

1 x 10 x W

Calves Calf raise

1 x 10 x W

2 x 10 x W

3 x 10 x W

Time

5 + 33 = 38 mins

13 + 52 = 65 mins

18 + 64 = 82 mins

Work ratio

14%

40%

60%

Sets

11 sets

24 sets

37 sets

The time estimates are based roughly on 3 secs per rep or 30 secs per set, with a 1-minute rest between sets. If there are multiple sets, a 2 – 3 minute changeover between exercises.

Exercise + Rest = Total Time

The percentages are the approximate ratios that you’re actually lifting during the duration.

This can be maintained for some time, adding some sets but maintaining a decent intensity. A beginner would stay on this regime for a few weeks. Someone returning from a break would find after this week that they’re ready to return to a split routine, though maybe not yet their “old” split prior to the break.

For a beginner, the larger body-parts would have the two exercises at 3 sets, possibly 4 sets after a few weeks. The smaller body-parts would stay with two exercises, possibly 3 sets on one and 2 sets on the other.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with our 5 takeaway tips from this article.

AMP Your Workout Smart Tips

1. Don’t forget the important triad of Stimulation, Nutrition, Recovery – which then impact Hormones – too many people train hard and neglect the other factors

2. Training capacity will change over time based on your history and your level of development

3. In the beginning (or after a break), training volume is low and workouts can be more frequent for an body-part

4. As the capacity of the muscles increase, more rest is required so split routines are necessary to give each body-part sufficient rest

5. The CNS (and your general recuperative powers) are commonly taxed each workout regardless of the body-parts, so regular complete rest is also important

For more information, visit AMP Your Workout.com. AMP Your Workout provides the latest technology to optimise training and match it to our genetic strengths – for faster results.