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How To Design an Effective Bodyweight Training Program, Part 1

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The most important thing you need to take into account when designing a bodyweight training program is how much time you have to actually workout. For starters, ask yourself which three days in your schedule is the lightest. If, for example, you say to yourself that the weekends are your only days off then you need to ask yourself if you will actually be motivated to exercise on the weekends.

Some Tips on Scheduling

  • My suggestion is to use either a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule or a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday split. You can even perform a 2-day program and train only on the weekends. Choose something that you know you can stick to for the long-term.
  • I have found that I am able to stick to a program better if I am training at a higher frequency (5-6 days per week), since this way I feel I have something to do each day. But this choice is prescribed only to intermediate and advanced trainees.

Once you have determined which days to train, you need to determine how many hours per day you have to exercise. Use the following as a guide:

Table One:

Lifestyle Description
Approximate Time to Train
I’m A Full Time College Student
5+ hours per week
I’m A Full Time College Student with a Part-Time Job
4-5 hours per week
I’m a Stay-at-Home Parent or a College Grad looking for Work
3-4 hours per week
I Have a Full Time 9-5 Job
2 hours per week
I Have 2 or More Full-Time Jobs or Work 60+ Hours per Week
1 hour per week

Now take the time you have to train and divide that by the number of days you have chosen to train.

  • For example, if you have chosen to exercise 3 days per week and have time for 3 total hours of exercise per week, then your training session will last 1 hour. If you have chosen to exercise 5 days pwer week, and have time for 1 total hour of exercise per week, then your training session will last 12 minutes.

Before we continue, I know what question you have in your head: “How can you get a good workout in just 12 minutes?” You can. I have had intense workouts that only last 4 minutes. I will devote a separate post on this topic.

How much Rest?

The next step is to determine how much rest you wish to take between each set. This will be based on your experience and goals. Use the following two tables to help you:

Table Two:

Fitness Level
Prescribed Rest Time
Beginner
2-3 minutes
Intermediate
1-2 minutes
Advanced
Less than 1 minute

Table Three:

Goal
Prescribed Rest Time
Mass Gain
1-2 minutes
General Health
1-2 minutes
Strength
3 + minutes
Fat Loss
0-2 minutes
Athletic Goals
Less than 1 minute
   

Choosing Exercises

Now that you have your rep range and total time per session, it is time to choose your exercises. I have prepared a video to help determine which exercises you should focus on and have published it before. Here it is again:

Use the video to make a list of the exercise you will use. The second part of this post will run on Monday. I’m letting you guys use the weekends to really brainstorm this stuff. It’s important.

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