How To Build Your Own Workout Routine

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Part 1: General warm-up

It isn’t always necessary for lifting, but if you’re going high-intensity, a warm-up to get your heart pumping and muscles firing is a good idea. A minute of skipping, sprinting or rowing, followed by five to ten jump squats and a dead hang from a bar will start things out right.

Part 2: Mobility warm-up

Keep this fast and focused. Plan out four to five moves for your upper-body day and another handful for lower-body day, and do them every session. Cat-cow stretches, band pull-aparts and cossack squats are all solid bang-for-your-buck options.

Part 3: Main move

Put full-body compound lifts front and centre in your workouts: that’s squatsdeadliftsbench press or power cleans. If you’re focusing on them, pull-ups can count in this category, and you should be bracing your core and glutes to do them. Keep the reps (relatively) low, and the effort high. If you’re doing any explosive or very technical moves in your workout, do them here while your nervous system’s fresh and firing.

Part 4: Accessory lifts

After one or two main moves, you should switch to moves that work weak spots, further fatigue the muscles you’re using in your main lifts, or target other qualities. If your main move was a deadlift, for instance, you could use Romanian deadlifts to strengthen your lower back, lat pull-downs for your upper back, or just hit some core work and call it a day.

Part 5: The finisher

Optional, but recommended. Rather than adding a separate conditioning session, plan a few short, lung-busting options at the end of a workout: a fast 500m row, ten kettlebell swings every 30 seconds for five minutes, or 100 press-ups as fast as possible will see you right.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.