Want to hit the gym and tone your muscles, but have no idea how to structure your strength training workouts? NASM-certified personal trainer Sam Altieri posted this simple workout plan to her Instagram page writing, “For so long, I trained very inefficiently and without a real plan, so I wanted to save you from my mistakes!” Base your workout frequency on the following:
The first thing you need to do is figure out how many days you can realistically commit to working out. Sam told POPSUGAR that beginners should aim to work out for 45 minutes, and as you progress, move on to 60 to 90 minutes, which allows for more rest between sets. If ideally you want to work out five times a week, but you actually only make it there consistently three times a week, then follow a three-day plan. “‘Failing’ to do your workouts or coming up short week after week isn’t fun or motivating,” Sam wrote in photo’s caption.
“It’s optimal to work each muscle group at least two times a week,” Sam said. If you’re new to hitting the gym, start with three strength training sessions a week, with lower volume and intensity. “More experienced lifters typically require more stimulus or more overload, thus may need more than three times a week,” she added. You can absolutely break up your workouts between home and the gym. She told POPSUGAR to take advantage of the gym and its equipment (including heavier weights), and then you can use your own bodyweight, dumbbells, and bands at home.
Your Stress Levels
Rest and recovery is also important. You need to manage your stress levels, keeping in mind that your body doesn’t know the difference between physical stress (like workouts) and mental or emotional stress (like work, relationships, life, and school). “Stress is stress. Too much of it (in and out of the gym) and your body won’t recover properly,” she wrote in the photo caption. That means, when choosing a workout frequency, “More is not better. Better is better.”
Your workouts and how many times a week you hit the gym should reflect your goals and address your weaknesses. Sam told POPSUGAR, people newer to lifting will be in the three-to-four-day range. Only experienced lifters train six days a week, because they can handle that type of volume.
If your upper body needs strengthening, you’ll want to tailor your workouts to that. Or maybe you want to strengthen your lower body because you’re training for a marathon. “Or maybe you sit at a desk all day and need to work on corrective exercise by focusing on your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back),” she wrote in the caption. Make sure that whatever plan you choose has a purpose.
There is no “perfect” plan. The best one is the one that works for you, your schedule, and your goals. This is just a basic plan to get you started, so you can use it as a starting point to design your own workout routine.