Create Your Own Workout Program In Less Than 10 Minutes

STACK Expert Justin Ochoa provides a template, guidelines and exercises you can use to design your own custom workout program.

Whether you're an athlete looking for a new training program, a coach with a full plate and no time to write your own program, or a newbie in the gym unsure of how you should train, I've got your back. When it comes to selecting a program, the number of options available can seem overwhelming.

Everyone's new product or program is the most revolutionary thing that ever happened in the fitness world. I make no such dramatic claims for what I am recommending, but it has been proven effective and it's very convenient for you to set up.

With so many options and training methodologies to choose from, I decided to put together an easy-to-follow outline. It's basically a general-use version of the programs I write for my advanced clients. The goal is to make you strong and lean, which is what most people want to achieve. I've seen variations of this program work incredibly well time and time again. That said, you can certainly tailor it to meet whatever goal you set for yourself.

The beautiful thing is that you will write this program for yourself, and it won't take much longer than it takes to read this article. All you need to do is pick your exercises and commit!

The program you will build is founded upon what I believe are the seven most important movements* in a strength training program:

  1. Upper-Body Pushing
  2. Lower-Body Pushing
  3. Upper-Body Pulling
  4. Lower-Body Pulling
  5. Gripping
  6. Rotating (or Resisting)
  7. Striding

* Not listed in order of importance.

A program that emphasizes these movements, I believe, is an excellent way to build total body strength, power and overall performance optimization.

My goal is to provide you with the tools you need to eliminate all the confusion and create your own training program—one you will love and enjoy. Using the outline below along with the exercise index, you can put together an awesome 12-week program that's unique to you and guaranteed to be beneficial in helping you achieve your goals!

First, here is the program outline:

Weeks 1-4

Monday: Upper Body

  • Upper Push: 5 x 8 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 12
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 12
  • Stride: 3x

Tuesday: Lower Body

  • Lower Push: 5 x 8 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 12
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 12

Thursday: Upper Body

  • Upper Pull: 5 x 8 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 12
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 12
  • Stride: 3x

Friday: Lower Body

  • Lower Pull: 5 x 8 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 12
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 12

Saturday: Full Body

  • Lower Pull: 4 x 8
  • Upper Push: 4 x 8
  • Lower Push/Upper Pull Superset: 4 x 10
  • Grip/Rotation/Stride Cluster: 5 x 12

Weeks 5-8

Monday: Upper Body

  • Upper Push: 4 x 6 [+1 extra set with 8-second eccentric motion]
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 12, 10, 8, 6 each
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 10
  • Stride: 3x

Tuesday: Lower Body

  • Lower Push: 4 x 6 [+1 extra set with 8-second eccentric motion]
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 12, 10, 8, 6 each
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 10

Thursday: Upper Body

  • Upper Pull: 4 x 6 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 10
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 10
  • Stride: 3x

Friday: Lower Body

  • Lower Pull: 4 x 6 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 10
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 10

Saturday: Full Body

  • Lower Pull: 4 x 6 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Upper Push: 4 x 6 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Lower Push/Upper Pull Superset: 4 x 10
  • Grip/Rotation/Stride Cluster: 5 x 10

Weeks 9-12

Monday: Upper Body

  • Upper Push: 5 x 3-5 (+1 extra set of an easy 20 reps performed as quickly as possible)
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 8
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 8 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Stride: 3x

Tuesday: Lower Body

  • Lower Push: 5 x 3-5 (+1 extra set of an easy 20 reps performed as quickly as possible)
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 8 (last set = drop set, all the way down to warm-up weight)
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 8

Thursday: Upper Body

  • Upper Pull: 5 x 3-5
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 8 [+1 extra set with 8-second eccentric motion on both exercises]
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Upper Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 8
  • Stride: 3x

Friday: Lower Body

  • Lower Pull: 5 x 3-5
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 4 x 8 [+1 extra set with 8-second eccentric motion on both exercises]
  • Rotation/Grip Superset: 4 x 10
  • Lower Pull/Push Superset: 3 x 8

Saturday: Full Body

  • Lower Pull: 5 x 3-5
  • Upper Push: 5 x 3-5
  • Lower Push/Upper Pull Superset: 4 x 8
  • Grip/Rotation/Stride Cluster: 5 x 10

General Guidelines

  • Rest 60-90 seconds between sets on non-superset, major lifts.
  • Rest as little as possible between all other sets & reps (30-45 seconds max)
  • Lift at or near failure with the "+/- one principle," meaning aim to come near failure within one rep above or below the prescribed number.
  • Use a wide variety of exercise selection. Prioritize the lifts you want to get good at or what will give you the best goal-oriented results, then fill the program accordingly.
  • Use off-days as active recovery days, not complete days off. Work on lagging muscle groups, conditioning and/or mobility enhancement.

Now that you have the general setup, choose your exercises below. Just plug them in and go! It's as easy as that. You may want to copy and paste the format into a word processor, replace each movement name with an actual exercise and print it out so you'll have a complete follow-along program.

Exercise Index

Upper-Body Pushing

  • Bench Press Variations
  • Overhead Press Variations
  • Dip Variations
  • Push-Up Variations

Lower-Body Pushing

  • Squat Variations
  • Single-Leg Exercises
  • Bridge Variations
  • Jumping Variations

Upper-Body Pulling

  • Pull-Up Variations
  • Row Variations
  • Climbing Variations

Lower-Body Pulling

  • Deadlift Variations
  • Leg/Hamstring Curl Exercises

Gripping

  • Loaded Carry Variations
  • Forearm Exercises
  • Curl Variations

Rotating (or Resisting)

  • Anti-Rotation Variations
  • Turkish Get-Ups
  • Throwing Variations
  • Sledgehammer Slams

Striding

  • Sled Variations
  • Running
  • Jogging/Walking

Now that you have the tools, take some time to map out your custom training plan. Keep in mind that this is a basic outline. I don't know how you move, whether you have any injuries or how fit you are. But I do know that this will help you get strong! It's up to you to choose the exercises that fit you best, using the template provided.

Finally, all reps/sets shown in the template are working sets. Please make sure you incorporate a dynamic warm-up prior to beginning your training session, and always ramp up to the working sets if time allows. This will yield much better—and safer—training sessions!

Dedicate your hardest work to the program. After all, you made it!


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SQUAT | LOWER BODY | PULL-UP | PUSH-UP | UPPER BODY | BENCH PRESS | WORKOUT PLAN | BICEP CURL | EXERCISES