How to Plan a Workout Schedule? Quick Guide for Beginners

Jeff Baldelli
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How to plan a workout schedule for weightlifting

Once you decide what weightlifting exercises you’re going to be doing, it’s time to pick a workout schedule. I mean, can you really sit down and write a training program that will guide you all the way up from zero to 100?

It’s easier than it sounds, and there are many different ways to do it.

I will give an example of a bodybuilding training schedule that I personally follow. This is a little bit of a longer program that will take you from the start of January until the end of March.

Now, if you prefer lifting some heavy weight for one day a week, that’s fine, but this is an example of a more in-depth schedule that will build muscle and stimulate your muscles for prolonged post-workout growth.

In order to successfully stick to your training schedule, you have a few things that need to be set in motion. Although you can choose to build your own training schedule, it’s best to start with a pre-made template that works for you, so that you can stack on your own specific exercise program on top of it.

For that, you can use the following items as a guideline for helping you plan your workout schedule:

  • Clear exercise goals
  • Defined goal metrics

Hard Gainers

What They Are & Why You Need Help

Gaining muscle and losing fat aren’t always as easy as just putting in more hours at the gym. In fact, there are many people out there who are often classified as “hard gainers.”

The term “hard gainer” is defining a person as someone who is dedicated to their muscle-building and fitness goals but struggles with gaining weight.

This is a common problem among fitness enthusiasts looking to build muscle, and it’s also a problem that can often be resolved through the extra help of a dedicated nutrition expert.

Let’s take a closer look at the term, why it’s a problem, and how it can be solved.

Who is a Hard Gainer?

When people start out in weight training, the general goal is to increase size and strength. This is the same for those trying to build muscle and those trying to lose fat.

The problem is that everyone’s body is different. This means that what works for one person may not work for all, and what doesn’t work for one person may work for all.

6 Major Muscle Groups

As you plan your workout schedule, you’ll want to concentrate on hitting each of the six major muscle groups. Of course, these are just the most common ones. You may have other muscles that’ll need to be trained to accommodate your sport, hobbies, or current state. If you’re not sure which muscle groups you need to train, most of them are pretty obvious:

Your legs are used for everything from walking to running. Pretty much all sports and exercises rely on your legs.

Your chest is used for most pushing movements. This includes push-ups, bench press, and any other pushing activity.

Your back is important for pulling movements. This includes pull-ups, strength exercises with heavy bars or ropes, and anything else that you need to pull.

Your shoulders are used for almost any throwing or punching motions in the upper body, as well as many of the similar motions in the lower body as well.

Your abs are used for a variety of ways to strengthen your core. This includes crunches and sit-ups, but can also include working the core in isolation during other exercises.

Your shoulders are used for almost any throwing or punching motions in the upper body, as well as many of the similar motions in the lower body as well.

To help put it into perspective, your workout will look something like this:

Sample Plan

Remember all of those benefits? How flexible they are? How convenient? How they’re great for everyone?

Well, there’s a downside to them. Namely that flexibility means there are so many different ways that you can put your workout schedule together than you may feel overwhelmed.

Before you throw in the towel and give up entirely on routines, don’t worry. You still have to believe in yourself.

That’s right; even if the possibilities seem endless, you’re ready to tackle them. Here’s what we recommend.

First, we’re going to start with an example workout schedule to get you in the groove of things.

The Sample Schedule

If you’ve been sedentary for a while, then you should start out with a workout schedule that has three exercises: two days of cardio and one full-body strength-training session.

If you’re already a gym rat that spends a lot of time honing your workouts, then you may want to start with a more advanced schedule that has four or five exercises.

How to plan a workout schedule for losing weight

Once you decide to build your workout schedule, the first thing to do is build your workout plan from the ground up.

Begin with a realistic goal. Ensure that your goal is something that you will be motivated to work towards. Do this by visualizing yourself reaching this goal. The more detailed you get with that picture in your mind the better.

You have to be careful setting the goal because you don’t want to create high expectations. People with high expectations are more likely to give up on their workouts.

Keep your first workout schedule simple. Remember that it is not an Olympic training plan. You are training for 30 minute at home.

You need to look at it this way. You have to build up your motivation and stamina. There comes a point when you hit the wall. Don’t worry, you will hit that too.

Preparation is important. Some people hit that wall because they don’t have the right amount of sleep. Some people hit the wall because they are tired and hungry.

Here are a few tips that could help you prevent the wall from happening as you build up your schedule.

Eat Well

After working out, you need high quality nutrition to repair your muscles, replenish glycogen stores, and kick-start the recovery process.

3 Days of Lifting

A. Warm up

Bench Press

4 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

B. Workout

5 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

Wide-Grip Pull-Ups

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

Barbell Deadlift

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

C. Cool down


A. Warm up

Military Press

4 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

B. Workout

5 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

Inverted Row

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

C. Cool down


A. Warm up


5 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

B. Workout

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

Barbell Bent Row

3 sets, 8-10 reps each set.

C. Cool down


A. Warm up

Don’t neglect Balance!

When you’re starting out with working out, it’s easy to overdo it. This can lead you to injure yourself or experience other aches and pains.

Even worse, if you’re someone who likes to push your limits at the gym, you could cause damage to your body. Yet, you always feel great immediately after the workout. Do note, though, that these extreme highs are exactly how you get the extreme lows after a workout.

If you want to stay healthy and strong, you will need to learn how to balance your workouts. This means allowing your body time to recuperate as well as work hard. Over time, you’ll learn how to recognize the warning signs that it’s time to listen to your body.

Never schedule two strenuous workouts in a row. Whether you’re doing cardio or weight training, give yourself at least one day in between each different workout.

If you really must go hard for two days, then follow up with a rest day.

Part of working out is making sure your body recovers. If you always work out hard, you’ll always be playing catch up to recover. This is a exhausting and is likely contributing to your lackluster results.

The 4 Quadrants: Sections

When it comes to planning your workout schedule, it’s important to keep it easy to follow. It’s also important to make sure that you don’t overwhelm yourself. With tons of workout plans available, sometimes you find yourself unsure of how to balance your time and energy.

To help you navigate your workout routine, we’ve come up with four quadrants that include the various kinds of workouts. Each quadrant has a different goal.

Each quadrant can be customized with the amount of time and work you put into it, depending on how intense your overall workout session is planned to be.

Quadrant 1: Time for Your Daily Activity

At the center of this quadrant, you’ll find your ordinary, everyday activities that you do throughout the day when you’re not doing a workout routine. This includes all kinds of physical activities you do during your daily commute such as walking or riding the bus.

If you don’t incorporate some average physical activity into your daily routine already, we highly recommend that you start doing so immediately.