I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite treats as a kid was a make your own Sundae from Stewarts. Basically you picked your ice cream, and had your choice of any and all toppings to make the perfect ice cream creation.
These days, making my own workout excites me. Now that I know the ropes, and my way around the gym, I love being able to have carte blanche to create a plan that will kick my butt. Some days I plan ahead, but most days I pick exercises as I go.
Having a plan from a trainer was great, because I never had to think about it. The plans were usually flexible, so if I wanted to switch my rest days around, I could. But these days, if I want to do a shoulder day, followed by a leg day, instead of vice versa, or what have you, I can. I don’t feel so compelled to stick to the plan, and I find that since it’s me vs. me, I push myself even harder, whether it be another rep, or to failure, or adding in a dropset.
I had tried both a 5 day bodypart split, and a two upper/two lower day split before. While I liked both, I have been using a 5 day split, since I do enjoy lifting more often. This usually involves 2 leg/glute days (build the booty!), back/biceps, chest/tris, and shoulders. I sprinkle in abs as I see fit (usually 2x a week), since afterall, abs are made in the kitchen. I know this for certain, when I had abs I worked them on average 2x a week, and everyone asked me my secret ab routine….
I had pretty much cut out cardio for a while, adding some HIIT sprints in here and there, and I find I can get my heart rate up just fine with heavy weights. Occasionally, once, sometimes twice a week, I’ll throw in some treadmill incline walking at home. If I want to make it an interval workout, I’ll sprinkle in some HITT sprints, or throw in some skipping (yes!) or high knees, or farmers carries with kettlebells. I’ve also tossed in some shuffling, burpees, jump rope, tuck jumps or jumping jacks, etc. (off the treadmill) to get my heart rate up. The time flies, and my muscles are nice and loose afterwards. It’s just a nice way to start the day sometimes.
This all has been working out great and I’m seeing strength gains, PRs, and changes in my body that keep me motivated to work harder.
So anyway, I thought it would be nice to share a kind of “Make Your Own Workout” menu that I use to lay out my time in the gym.
I always have the major lifts to start: Squats, deadlifts, bench press, pullups/rows, and overhead press- for legs/glutes, chest, back, and shoulders. 5 sets of each of these, descending in reps to focus on strength. Biceps and triceps are secondary, since they assist with the larger muscle groups and therefore are pre-worked. Then I add in 3-5 additional exercises for the large muscle groups, and then I add in 2 moves to target smaller groups, like bis, tris, and abs, on their respective days. Usually 4, sometimes 3 sets if focusing on a single side at a time. Abs happen when if I’m not dead yet from a workout.
On to the menu, where I offer up my favorites:
2 leg days with a heavy focus on glutes(trying to build the booty): 1 day is squats (usually barbell back squats, sometimes sumo- 5 sets), 1 is deadlifts (or variations), 5 sets, then I pick 4-6) from the following, doing the moves only once a week if at all– for variety:
- Barbell hip thrusts
- Split squats
- Leg Press
- Cable Pull Throughs
- Barbell Good mornings
- Lunges- front, reverse, walking, side, front foot elevated…the list goes on
- Weighted step ups
- Goblet squats
- Jump Squats
- Kettlebell Swings
- Weighted Calf Raise machine or with Smith Machine
- Cable kickbacks
- Leg extension machine/leg curl machine (the machines at my gym are giant or something, so they’re uncomfortable for my 5’2″ self and haven’t used them in months)
- Back extensions holding plate
Back- Pullups (as many as I can -I can do them now! Well, 1 1/2) then reverse pullups, and/or assisted pullups, then 3-4 of the following)
- Inverted rows
- Bent over rows
- One arm dumbell/cable rows
- Narrow grip lat pulldown
- Seated Cable Row
- Face pulls
- T-bar rows
- Straight arm cable pulldown
Biceps (usually pick 2)
- Cable bar/rope curl
- Hammer curl
- Incline Dumbell curl (regular and pronated grip)
- Preacher Curl
Chest (Bench Press first, then 3-4 of) (BTW I’ve made awesome gains on the bench lately! Woo!)
- Incline bench/dumbell press
- Decline flys
- Vertical chest press machine
- Pushups, decline pushups, walking pushups
- Cable flys
Triceps (Usually 2)
- Dips/assisted dips
- Tricep rope pushdown
- Skull Crushers
- Narrow/diamond pushups
- Overhead triceps extension
Shoulders (Usually Start with Overhead Barbell Press- 5×12,10, 8, 6, 5; then 4-5 of the following)
- Seated dumbbell press
- Arnold press- seated/standing
- Front raise with plates or dumbbells
- Lateral raises- standing/seated/bent over
- Upright Rows
Abs (2 exercises, 3-4 sets, 2x a week)
- Cable crunches
- Captain’s chair
- Decline bench crunches with medicine ball
- Bicycle crunches
- Palloff Press
Workouts usually take me 50-60 minutes, depending on time I have, and how I’m feeling. That includes a 5 minute warmup. If I think I’ve pushed myself and got it in, there’s no need to spend much longer there. Sometimes I’ll throw in like 3 (yes, 3) all out hill sprints (the throat burny kind) if I’m feeling saucy. And that’s it. I usually wear a HR monitor, which also helps to motivate me, and I definitely enjoy my intense, heart rate spiking weight workouts more than any cardio workout, which is huge for a former cardio bunny/addict. It just works for me and meets my needs. And I feel like a badass knowing my way around the weight room more than most guys there.
What’s your favorite workout?
Do you plan your workouts? Make it up as you go? Have a trainer plan it for you?
And just for fun, what’s your favorite Sundae toppings? I love me a brownie sundae. Nom!