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Fitness 101: The Ultimate Five-Step Guide To Build Your Own Workout Plan

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Whether you’re a complete newbie or seasoned pro in the gym, think back to your very first time.

With fitness, silly.

How would you describe it? Frustrating? Overwhelming? Absurdly confusing? Maybe it was complete and unadulterated torture. But just like learning to speak a new language, cook professionally, or play the piano, working out has a significant learning curve attached.

Naturally, when you’re first diving into the massive, complex, overly complicated fitness world, your first logical move is to sign up for a gym membership and then hire a personal trainer (or latch onto a gym buddy). They’re your master. Your guide. Your Yoda.

We fully support that. It’s important to learn the ropes, get the basics down—especially with form, technique, and injury prevention—and most importantly, feed off of their energy and motivation to kickstart your own explosive workout habit.

But after a few months, fitness should become self-sustainable (unless you like throwing money into a bonfire). The training wheels should come off and it should evolve into a DIY activity. And that’s where building your own workout plan comes in. Your workout plan is your roadmap—your blueprint or set of instructions—to construct the killer body you’ve always wanted.

Basically, you’re IKEA furniture.

But real talk: building an effective workout plan for the general population isn’t astrophysics. It doesn’t require sophisticated formulas or advanced algorithms. Above all else it requires sensible logic, organized planning, and tactical strategy — much like a general would deploy to go to war.

And that’s where we come in. We’re dropping a bomb with Fitness 101: The Ultimate Five-Step Guide To Build Your Own Workout Plan. It’s a dead simple, dummy-proof blueprint that ANYONE can use to construct an effective, gym-based workout plan for themselves or a friend.

There are literally 1,000,000 different ways to organize a successful workout routine. Our guide is simplified so that a HEALTHY individual can work step-by-step, follow a number of logical rules and strategies, and build a regimented workout schedule that’ll build muscle mass, carve out the abs, and keep the body lean and mean.

One HUGE caveat. Top trainers and fitness professionals have the talent to create customized workout plans, structures, and frameworks for a variety of different individuals, depending on individual goals, limitations, injury history, competitive and athletic angles, and about a million other factors. Don’t underestimate that value for more complex cases.

And please, if you have any major injuries or health conditions, consult with a trainer or health professional before designing a program for yourself and jumping right in. Be SMART.

But if you’re like most normal people and just want something that’ll help you feel great and look stellar naked, this is the route you should take. Grab a pen and paper. Start building.


Fitness 101: How To Build Your Own Workout Plan

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STEP 1: Determine Your Magical Workout Number

First things first. Figure out (realistically) the number of days every week that you can get a full, legit workout in. This goes a long way to pre-determining the type of workout split you’ll be employing — aka, the way your workout is organized and divided.

That’s your magical workout number.

Let’s say you’re busy and your answer is TWO DAYS (and don’t be embarrassed, we can work with that). You’ll optimize, cut corners, drop the frills, and organize a workout schedule that’s drastically differently from someone who has the time to crush a workout 6 days/week.

Translated, you’ll have to squeeze more body parts into each workout and focus exclusively on large, compound exercises; things like squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows that are capable of smashing large chunks of muscle—and burning fat—in one fell swoop. Targeted, isolation moves fall by the wayside, because, well, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Conversely, if you’re in the gym 6 days/week, you can spend significantly more time focusing on individual muscle groups, and leverage isolation exercises to pinpoint specificity. Whether that’s honing your obliques, rectus abdominis, and lower abs en route to a sexy set of six-pack abs or destroying your front, lateral, and rear deltoids to produce ripped, cannonball shoulders, more time facilitates a more granular approach.

At the core though, you can build an amazing body with both schedules. It’ll just take a little bit longer and diet becomes SIGNIFICANTLY more important.

→ TO-DO: Figure out how many days you can (realistically) work out each week.

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Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto