How To Build A Strength Program

When it comes to working out, consistency is key to achieving results. A great way to make sure that you stick to a regular fitness regimen is to create a program yourself. By investing the time to think through and come up with what works for you, you develop ownership over it, and your likelihood of following through dramatically increases. But with so many exercises, styles, and methods, knowing where to start to create your own strength training program can be overwhelming. By breaking it down into steps and it building it up as you go, you can be sure to make it a little easier, and have some fun along the way.

A Plan for You

Building a strength training program can involve a lot of trial and error. Each person’s body and mind react differently to increased levels of activity and exercise. Putting all of the pieces together to create a solid program you can follow and see results from, may take some time and experimentation. To figure out what works best for you, a great place to start is with your history of exercise, and your goals. While Sample Programs that you can find online or in books are a great place to start, but they may not be best suited to your fitness level, body composition, and your reasons for exercise. Just as a program created for someone who has been exercising their whole life may not work for someone who has never gone for a run, a program aimed at increasing strength may look different than one for building strictly muscle mass.

As you prepare your new routine, make sure to write down the details of your program. Having a written workout prepared can help you stick to your new program. Tracking what you actually end up doing during each workout can help you continue to plan ahead. As always, remember to track your progress to check how effective you are at reaching your goals.

Movement Types

No matter what your goals are, it’s important to work in the foundations of movement including resistance based exercises that incorporate improving mobility, flexibility, and stability. This will ensure that you are developing a balanced fitness habits. Your strength training program should be part of a complete exercise plan. Cross-training , or incorporating different styles and methods of exercise, is important for overall health and fitness. A great fitness plan should include a balance of strength and cardio training.

When deciding what exercises to incorporate, the simpler the better. Starting with basic exercises from all movement groups and planes will make it easier stick to your program, while still getting a full balance of fitness. Having fewer individual exercises to learn and plan for increases compliance dramatically. By incorporating movements from all planes, helps to make sure you’re strengthening and developing your major muscles groups as well as stability muscles throughout the core and limbs.


As with any exercise routine, strength training comes with the potential for injury. This risk level increases when creating your own plan from scratch. Knowing your strengths and your limits can help to prevent possible injury, so you can keep going and continue your plan.

A great way to find out your strength level and your limits is to discover your 1 Rep Max. By discovering the highest weight you can lift safely, you can then work backwards to find the weight you would use at any point in your new program. Always follow safe progressions when changing any elements of your workout plan, in order to prevent injury related to overuse and misuse. A good recipe is to aim for 5-15 reps for 2-5 sets, with anywhere from 30 seconds - 2 minutes rest between each set. You can play with these numbers depending on your goals, as building muscle and gaining strength may have different ideal combinations.


For any fitness plan, it’s important to give your muscles plenty of time to rest between workouts. A good guideline is to aim to perform strength training 2 to 4 times each week. Making sure to not exercise the same muscle two days in a row, and giving them 48 hours rest between workouts, can help prevent fatigue, decrease risk of injury, and enable muscle growth. Some people opt to have a full body workout every session, each a few days apart. Another way to give your muscles adequate rest is to split up your muscle and movement group workouts by day, to squeeze in more focused trainings throughout the week.

Everyone needs a break every now and then when it comes to working out. Having a few days off per week is more than fine, it’s encouraged. Exercise 7 days a week is a surefire way to burnout and quit your program. Too much can be exhausting, and your body may not be able to sustain that level of activity. Too much time off, however, can be equally damaging to sticking to your program. When you need a break, rather than taking a full week off, lighten your program instead. You can do this by taking a few days off, or just leaving one or two days on per week. A full break from your program can severely hamper your progress and set you far back in your plan. Exercising even lightly only one day per week is a huge improvement over nothing, and will keep your body and mind active and ready to get back on with full steam.

So you know what you’re working towards, what types of exercises to do, how often do them, and how to stay safe, now it’s time for you to put it all together into a cohesive program. Overall, the best program is the one you can stick to. Starting small and building it up as you improve is a surefire way to build lasting habits. Once you’re set there, you can work to increase your training over time. By increasing weight loads, modifying exercises, and changing speeds, you can work your way up to continued progress, and grow along with your program.