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How to Plan a Weight Training Program

A good weight training program can really help to focus your workouts and assist you in meeting your goals and objectives. But what is a weight training program and how can you plan one yourself? Read on for more… 

WHAT IS WEIGHT TRAINING? 

Weight training is a form of strength training that uses weights machines or handheld weights, such as dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells to add a greater challenge to workouts. It offers fantastic benefits such as improved strength and balance, as well as body shaping and weight control. 

Read our What is Weight Training and What Are The Benefits guide for more detail. 

WHAT IS A WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAM? 

A weight training program is a plan you make to ensure you’re consistently challenging yourself and reaching for your goals as you work out. This can be as simple as written notes to show what types and size of weights you are starting with and how you intend to progress each week or month, or could be a spreadsheet or app on your phone. Ideally, you’ll have this with you in the gym to refer to as you exercise; which will also mean you can also mark up any differences between your plans and your actual achievements as you go.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAM? 

Creating and sticking to a weight training program means you’re more likely to challenge and drive yourself as you lift, push or pull. You’ll be able to set and meet measurable goals and appreciate all the benefits from challenging yourself and your body in a targeted way. It also means you can easily track your progress and enjoy the successes you’ve achieved.

HOW TO PLAN A WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAM

So much of creating a weight training program comes down to you – your starting point, your goals, your personal commitment. Whether you’re a complete beginner to weight training or have been working out with weights for some time, it’s important to have an idea of all of the below when creating your program. 

Once you’re comfortable that you’re ready to get started, you can start filling out your plan. Here’s a weight training program template that could serve as a useful starting point.

1. Understand your goals

Why are you focusing on weight training? Is it to build muscle, tone your body or lose weight? Perhaps you’d simply like to feel stronger? Maybe it’s to recover or strengthen your muscles after an injury? Or you’re keen to focus on strengthening and shaping one particular part of your body. It could be that you’re hoping to achieve several of these benefits as you train. Understanding your goals is the first step of creating a program, as this could change how you approach your training. For example, working with heavy weights will help to build muscle mass, while lighter weights over more reps is more likely to help build up endurance.

2. Set short and long term objectives

Once you know what you’re hoping to achieve, you can begin to set yourself challenging yet achievable goals to reach. Perhaps you’re hoping to lift a certain weight within 3 months, or would like to bulk up to a certain size. Note this down and aim to work backwards from here when planning your expected progress. It could be that you then realise your goal isn’t quite achievable in your time frame, so you can rework your program, or maybe you might be on track to meet it sooner than you’d thought. Mapping out your objectives will not only help you gain a better and more realistic picture of how and when you’re planning to meet your goals, but it will give you something specific to aim for and successes to celebrate as you achieve them. 

Remember, you won’t build muscle overnight; it might take some time to meet your objectives. Don’t rush yourself and instead enjoy seeing the improvements during your fitness journey.

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