Building Workouts On The Fly

If you are looking to build a new workout in a new gym then you need to follow this guide to do just that, have a think and see if you have heard this one before, “If you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail”.

The best way to see consistent progress in the gym is to have a set plan in place and follow a program. Basically you address your weaknesses, build upon your strengths, build some balanced strength and keep moving towards that direction.

Taking a few helpful hints on board can actually help you progress much further in your workout.

There comes a time though sometimes when it makes more sense to think outside of the box. Maybe training has become stale and you are tired of doing pretty much the same thing over and over again. This would be a time when it would be silly to ignore it. Maybe you are tired of being told what to do for every rep and you want more room to experiment and explore, this is ok as well.

The templates I am putting up below will allow you to go into the gym and have a great training session with no fret over the finer details. I would not recommend using this as your only program but they do work great as a one-day vacation, a one-week adventure or even a one-month non-program program.

Option 1: The 3-Day Total Body Split

The best way to build a great workout on the fly is to make sure that it is not totally random. As an example, the template below provides plenty of room for interpretation, but at the same time, it covers all the major movement patterns needed for full-body muscular development and strength.

A great body is an excellent by-product of fantastic workouts and diet.

Without any further ado, here is the program as well as 3-4 options for each movement variation. If there is something you want to do that isn’t on the list but fits in the category then you can definitely sub it out.

Monday

  1. Bilateral Squat Variation: Back squat, Front squat, Double-kettlebell front-squat.
  2. Push-Up Variation: Push-up, feet-elevated push-up, weighted push-up, single-arm push-up, band-resisted push-up.
  3. Split-stance variation: Split-squat, reverse lunge, forward lunge.
  4. Row variation: Dumbbell row, chest-supported row, T-bar row.
  5. Core exercises: Your choice.

Wednesday

  1. Compound press: Bench press, incline bench, dumbbell bench, military press.
  2. Supplemental posterior chain: Barbell Romanian deadlift.
  3. Pull-up/chin-up variation: Weighted, unweighted, TRX bodyweight row.
  4. Knee flexion: Glute-ham raise, Nordic hamstring, ball leg curl.
  5. Core exercise: Your choice.

Friday

  1. Deadlift variation: Sumo deadlift, conventional deadlift, trap-bar deadlift.
  2. Accessory press: Floor press, close-grip bench press, dumbbell bench variations.
  3. Single-leg variation: Step-up, Bulgarian split-squat, pistol squat, single-leg deadlift.
  4. Gun show: Biceps and triceps exercises of your choice, supersetted.
  5. Core exercise: Your choice.

How do you choose which exercise variation to use? Use your goals, intuition and curiosity to help guide you. If there is something you have wanted to try, give it a go for a few weeks.

When you go to the gym and you can’t get the equipment for one variation, try another one. Be flexible, but push yourself whatever you choose.

Bodyweight sets are great to supplement your main workout.

Option 2: The 4-Day Upper-Lower Split

If you have some spare time on your hands and are up for less recovery time then here is a four-day split you can use to build your workout on the fly.

Monday

  1. Bilateral squat variation: Back squat, front squat, double-kettlebell front squat.
  2. Supplemental posterior chain: RDL, good morning or other glute and ham builder.
  3. Split-stance variation: Split-squat, reverse lunge, forward lunge.
  4. Knee flexion: Glute-ham raise, Nordic hamstring, ball leg curl.
  5. Core exercise:  Your choice.

Wednesday

  1. Compound press:  Bench press, incline bench, dumbbell bench, military press.
  2. Pull-up/chin-up variation: Weighted, unweighted, TRX bodyweight row.
  3. Accessory press: Floor press, close-grip bench press, dumbbell bench variations.
  4. Shoulder assistance: Either rear/side/front variations for size, or face-pull or kettlebell arm work for shoulder health.
  5. Core exercise; Your choice.

Friday

  1. Deadlift variation: Sumo deadlift, conventional deadlift, trap-bar deadlift.
  2. Front squat variation: Barbell, safety-bar front squat, double-kettlebell front squat.
  3. Single-leg variation: Step-up, Bulgarian split-squat, pistol squat, single-leg deadlift.
  4. Hip thrust variation: Single-leg variation using bands or chains or barbell version.

Saturday

  1. Row variation: Dumbbell row, chest-supported row, T-bar row.
  2. Push-up variation: Push-up, feet elevated push-up, weighted push-up, single-arm push-up, band-resisted push-up.
  3. Triceps: Your choice.
  4. Biceps: Your choice.
  5. Core exercise: Your Choice.

You can mix up your workouts whilst on vacation quite easily.

The Details Of Freestyle Training

You’re probably thinking “What about the sets and reps?” The best thing about this style of training is the ability to adapt it to work for strength, size or fat loss quite easily. So long as you know your goal you can then make a template for any goal.

Think of the bigger picture. Think of training as two ends of the spectrum. At one end, you have got more neutral-focused training which builds strength and power whilst at the other end you have got more metabolic-based training, this hammers on hypertrophy and fat-loss.

Neutral Training                        Metabolic Training

Fewer reps per set.                          More reps per set.

More total sets.                                Fewer total sets.

Less time under tension.                More time under tension.

Longer rest periods.                        Shorter rest periods.

Time to unpack all the jargon. Let’s say your primary goal is to get stronger. For the exercises, you’re going to lean towards the neutral side of the spectrum so your program may look a bit like this:

Back squat:  5 Sets of 5 reps, rest 3-5 minutes.

Everything about this structure implies that you will be moving some pretty heavy weights around. When you move heavy weight, you are not going to be doing it excessively slowly or fast at any point during the lift so don’t worry about tempo or time under tension. Just lift and then rest. Your nervous system takes much longer to recover than the muscular system does so take ample time between sets.

Variety is very important when it comes to successful gains.

Let us now take a look at the other end of the spectrum. If your goal is to shed some body fat or build some muscle, your program may look a but like this:

Back squat: 4 Sets of 10 reps, 3010 tempo, rest 90-120 seconds.

The tempo above refers to the speed of the various parts of the lift. In this case, it means a three-second eccentric or lowering phase, zero seconds in the bottom, one second to rise and no pause at the top before beginning another rep. The aim is more reps per set,slowing down the repetition speed which increases the total time under tension and shortening the rest period. All of this equates to a workout that is much more metabolic in nature.

It would be daft of course to take some of these movements like the gun show really heavy so don’t forget to use a bit of common sense here.

Take Control Of Your Training

This approach will best suit a lifter advanced enough to know how to perform a wide range of exercises with good form. If you are a beginner, you are probably better off with something a bit more structured that allows you to get lots of practice at certain movements.

Having variations of an exercise enables you to work the muscle in different ways which in turn encourages growth.

I also don’t think of this type of training great for months on end. As a way of mixing things up or just to make sure you are still getting some quality training whilst on vacation or travelling, this approach can work wonders.

If you can adapt your workout to suit this method then I can see it working really well for you. Click here to learn about the 3-week diet that can shed pounds and get you lean in no time.

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