The Secret Way you Should Be Designing your Workouts

Eighty percent of injuries occur in new members of a gym.


Why? Because they actually don’t know what they are doing.



One of the very first things I learned when studying for my personal trainer exam (click  here for fifteen things I’ve learned about personal training) was that a workout needed to follow specific phases, which include exercises from the different planes of motion and include balance, flexibility, strength and cardio training. In addition, a fitness newbie should establish a solid foundation (stability) before entering a strenuous workout program. This is something I touch upon in “Ten Reasons Why You’re Not Reaching Your Fitness Goals”.


Are you new to the gym? Or frustrated with your current routine? is teaching you How you Should be Designing your Workouts.


If You’ve Just Started Working out or Getting Back into the Gym


Your body is going to be deconditioned. It doesn’t matter if you used to be able to run 10 miles at once, the likelihood of that happening currently is most likely slim. Each time you stop working out for long lengths of time your body will “get out of shape”= get deconditioned. As a result, when you are deconditioned you are more susceptible to get injured.


Which means the time you first start back in the gym is when you’re most likely going to get injured so please be careful!


Here are some Helpful Tips to Consider:

 Properly Warm-Up

Two minutes on a treadmill isn’t a proper warm up. You need to prepare your mind and body for what’s to come and if you’ve been sitting all day (chances you probably have) then this will be vitally important.


  • Dynamic Stretching–  is not static stretching (what you do when you cool down) and are movements that mimic what you will do in your workouts Ex. lunge with a twist

         More on Dynamic Stretching here


  • Foam Rolling (Routine here)



Perform better and decrease your chances of injury by properly warming up!

How to Design the Actual Workout


Your actual program design is going to depend on a few different factors. Upon meeting with a client (initial session) it’s important for the trainer to learn about the different injuries, medical history, exercise history that that individual client has. Moreover, the type of job the client has will play a role in imbalances and what their body is going to be ready for.

Related: My Guaranteed Tips to Succeed In Personal Training


Moreover, it’s extremely important to workout for your body type (more on that here). Your body type will determine what kind of workouts you should be doing. For example, if you are an ectomorph (naturally thin) you should stay away from doing too much cardio and focus on strength. Here’s an article I wrote all about this topic.


The Stabilization Phase (for all you NASM’ers) is a must!

(Deconditioned, newbie, getting back into the gym etc.)


If you’re a complete fitness newbie you need to establish a foundation with really basic exercises. Make sure you are properly warming up. Furthermore, after you’ve identified the imbalances that you may have, focus on strengthening those.

So How Do I know What Imbalances I Have?

The Functional Movement Screening is a go to in the Industry. Here’s a Youtube video of some of the tests you can do to identify your imbalances.




Most of us are fairly inactive so we sit all day and stare at a screen of some sorts, whether it is our phone or tablet. Thus we have weak hip flexors, tight hamstrings, weak glutes, weak cores which all can lead to terrible injuries and back pain.

Here are some exercises that I use to see what imbalances a client has:

  • Overhead Squats
  • Push Ups
  • Standing on one foot
  • Single leg squat
  • Toe touch stretch test (can you touch your toes when seated or standing)



Let’s Design that Workout!

Disclaimer: Do not enter a physical workout program without consulting your doctor first. 

Example of Beginner Bodyweight Workout

*Perform each exercise 15-20 times in a slow controlled motion taking one-two minute breaks in between OR perform each exercise 15 reps each with little to no breaks in between until exercise #6.

Dynamic Warm-Up

  1. Push ups (modified)
  2. Squats
  3. Basic Crunches
  4. Back Lunges
  5. Modified Burpees
  6. squat +back lunge


Example of Beginner Weighted Workout

*If you are trying to lose weight (15 plus pounds) do cardio before this. If not do cardio at the end


This is a total body workout do each exercise for 3 sets of 15 with breaks of 1 minute in between

  1. Dumbell Squats
  2. Lat Pulldown
  3. Bicep Curls
  4. Alternating Front Lunges
  5. Chest Press
  6. Cable Row
  7. Leg Press Machine
  8. Overhead Tricep Extension(one dumbell)
  9. Basic Shoulder Press

*notice how I alternated between different muscle groups


Here’s an Example of a More Intermediate Weighted Workout

(working in supersets)

Superset #1

  1. Push-ups
  2.  bodyweight Squats

Superset #2

  1. Basic Crunches
  2. Back Lunges

Superset #3

  1. Modified Burpees
  2. Squat +Back Lunge

Superset #4

  1. Lat Pulldown
  2. Bicep Curls

Superset #5

  1. Alternating Front Lunges
  2. Leg Press Machine

Superset #6

  1. Overhead Tricep Extension (one dumbell)
  2. Basic Shoulder Press

*alternating between different muscle groups but pairing opposite ones with each other. Interested in a challenge? Add a bodyweight cardio exercise to those two exercises. Example: burpee, jump rope, jacks, squat jumps etc.



So What’s the Lesson in All This?

So I can go into more depth about this program design thing, but I’m not trying to drag this out into a book.  I’m hoping that the previous examples have given you an idea on how to progress a workout from beginner to intermediate. When you are first entering a workout program please make sure you are setting up your foundation and implementing a flexibility and cardio program. In order for a program to be well rounded and efficient, it needs to include strength, balance, core, cardio and flexibility training.



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