Another favorite from my shoot

Creating Your Own Home Training Program | Build it Yourself

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One of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to get stronger or meet specific goals is changing things too often. Today I want to show you how to put together your own program from the vast array of workouts here on the site :)  By doing this, you will see more progress in your training goals and be able to set more realistic goals in the future.

:::: Remember that different coaches will have different styles, but each coach should take the things I am listing into consideration ::::

If you chop and change the exercises too frequently, you will never get stronger at them, so keep doing the same workouts for 4-6 weeks at a time. Don’t give up before you give them a chance!

The good thing is that most of my workouts provide you with the means to reach most general fitness goals at home. While the real heavy lifting can mostly only be performed in the gym environment, I personally feel that major progress (or at least maintenance) can be achieved with your body weight and some Kettlebells/Dumbbells etc.  Progress for beginners; maintenance for experienced lifters.  However, I would argue to experienced lifters that a period of “maintenance training” can aid in much needed recovery/mobility work that can then carry forward into the next phase of your more intense training – it provides a boost, so to speak.

Much in the same way as you would Create a Balanced Workout, I advise you to first select the important movement patterns (in various directions of movement) to help cover all bases, and then simply chose the exercises/or ready-made balanced workouts from my archives that fit the bill and make sure that you cover each movement throughout the week.

Simple, right??

If it was, I don’t think there would be so many trainers out there designing imbalanced workouts and imbalanced programs. But that’s a whole other article/rant!

In order to try to keep things as simply as possible, I have included what I consider to be the most basic/essential elements to cover. More specialised/specific elements can be added down the road, or you can request a more detailed and personalised program by emailing me at: mvk_82@hotmail.com

Basic Movements to try and include throughout the week  –> with consideration given to bilateral, unilateral variations and the direction of the movement ( eg forward and backward; up and down; side to side, rotation etc)

  • Quad Dominant exercises eg: Squats, Lunges, Lateral Lunges, Step Ups etc
  • Hip/Hamstring Dominant exercises eg: Deadlifts, Swings, Good Morning, Pull-Throughs etc
  • Glute Dominant Exercises –> Glute Bridges, Hip Thrusts, X-Band Walks, Band Abduction etc
  • Upper Body Push –> Push Up, Overhead Press, Floor Press, Bench Press etc
  • Upper Body Pull –> Single Arm Rows, Renegade Row, Pull/Chin Ups etc
  • Front Core –> Front Plank (stabilise), hanging leg raises (mobilise) etc
  • Side (rotary) Core –> Side Plank (stabilise), Side Bend (mobilise) etc

As you can see, there is quite a lot to think over, but on top of that you need to consider the following:

Changing the direction

Often, we get stuck moving one direction and even more so, we get stuck standing in one spot while exercising. This is good for many strength exercises, but not good for overall movement quality, agility, balance, co-ordination and … even FUN! So we must move in all directions to get the full benefit of our training. This is something I learned the hard way :-/

You might be thinking “when will I ever get the time to include all this stuff?” well, many of these things can be included in your warm up and even as part of a conditioning “finisher” after your strength section

:::: Remember that just because you don’t use a lot of weight in some directions, does not mean you are not getting stronger –> because strength should be build on strong movements ::::

Some ideas to add in (maybe once per week for variety):

- Side Lunges, Monkey Hustle, Moon Walking (as demonstrated by the lovely Nia Shanks *Teehee*)

- KB Juggling … something I have yet to try!

- Animal movement drill

- Agility drill (eg T-Drills)

- Rotational exercises (Russian Twists, Figure of 8, Chops, Band Rotations etc)

Activate, Mobilise, Strengthen, Stretch and Stabilise

Again, a lot to consider. But have a think about what your training AND lifestyle are doing to your body or, indeed, not doing. For example: do you have tight ankles, tight hips, poor core or shoulder stability, shortened hamstrings or dormant glutes??

You may not even know if you have any existing problems, so I recommend trying to cover most of these by:

  1. Adding Glute Activation and Mobility drills to your warm-up – if you know you have an “issue” with Hip Mobility (for example), this is when you should spend a little extra time on it.
  2. Or – you can activate or mobilise areas right before a specific exercise or between sets eg: Bird-Dogs and Hip Mobility work between sets of Hip Thrusts or KB Swings.
  3. Strength being the focus of the workout … strengthen your body as a unit working together (which is why I love full body training)
  4. Work on Stability at the end of the workout – save your planks, overhead carries etc until you have done the bulk of your training, so as not to fatigue those smaller muscles
  5. Stretch as part of your cool-down.
This way you will cover most things in a more time-efficient manor.
 
In my workout archives, I may not cover everything above (btw I am planning on bringing a little more organisation and variety to the options), but every workout will have good balance between many elements discussed.  Variety in the direction of movements and your own activation, mobility, stretching work will need to added in places.

 

Putting it all together

 
While it might seem super complicated, all you need to do is decide how many times per week you want to / are able to train and then design (or take) those workouts which include complementary elements. For example, Day 1 you choose a Goblet Squat, Day 2 you choose Lateral Lunges and Day 3 you choose Weighted Step Ups.  Each is a Quad Dominant exercise, yet you have included bilateral movements, lateral movement and unilateral throughout the week.  You try to include different variations of the movement patterns in each workout and then repeat said workouts each week for 4-6 weeks.  Each time you perform them you want to improve in any of these ways:
 
- Better form (increased range of movement etc)
- More reps with the same weight
- More weight with same reps
- More advanced variation of exercises ( eg: progressing from shoulder-elevated push ups to full push ups)
 
You might not cover everything in any one program, so don’t get too obsessed all the extra considerations – the most important thing is that exercises are balanced in the most basic ways (upper lower/push and pull). So remember that each 4-week-phase is a chance to work on something that you didn’t focus on before. For example, in Month 1, you might have included more rotational exercises for the core, so in Month 2,  this is a chance to change it up and maybe work on rotary stability. You simply cannot work on everything at once but you can choose what you want/need to work on, based on your current progress and your short-term goals.

 

Free Sample Program

 
Because I am a very nice person :) I have built a sample program for you, using some of my pre-made workouts and a few extra elements to help you see what it all looks like as a finished piece.
 

Workout 1 – Strength

 
Kettlebell Home Strength Workout –> with or without Tabata
Post Workout Core Work:
 
- RKC Plank: 2x Max Hold
- KB “round the worlds”: 2×30 seconds (each direction) –> with feet together
 

Workout 2 – Strength

Kettlebell Complex Workout
Conditioning “Finisher”
 
Complete the following sequence 2-3 times with 1-2 mins rest between each round:
 
  • Overhead Carries (DB/KB): x 30 seconds (each side)
  • Skater Hops: x 30 seconds
  • Band Seated Abduction: x 15-20 reps

 Workout 3 – Conditioning

Step It Up Workout Routine

Workout 4 – Strength and Conditioning

Ultimate Home Strength Training Routine –> Sub Inverted Rows for Renegade Rows x 16-20 reps
And there we have a series of workouts that you are free to do every week for the next 4 weeks. You can do them in any order and decide on the recovery style you like/need between each day.  When it comes to how to “live out” your program, there will be a little trial and error: some people might cope well training 4 days in a row, other may not. 
 
EXTRA NOTE:
 
If you are someone who prefers upper/lower body splits, then you still should apply the same considerations to movement patterns and the directions above, however you could add in 2 of each movement, or mix some compound exercises (at the start of the workout) with some isolation exercises (at the end).
Example: 
1) Pull Ups: 3×5-7
2a) Single-Arm Row: 2×8-12
2b) Double Military Press: 3×5-7
3a) Dynamic Push-Ups: 3×8-12
3b) KB Windmill: 3×8
Finish with 3 round of the following sequence:
- Bicep Curls: x 15 reps
- Lateral Raises x 15 reps
- Tricep extensions x 15 reps
You can also add in “Finishers” that focus on the other body parts – so, you might have an upper body strength session followed by a lower body Tabata, or Sprints etc.
And that’s a wrap, folks :)
 
This article is meant to help you understand that designing an effective program takes a little bit of time and planning, but is worth the extra effort and organisation because it helps you commit more to your goals and it will be easier to measure your progress.
 
Hopefully it is helpful for you and that you will provide feedback below  –> feel free to add to the content by leaving suggestions for your fellow readers :)
 
Cheers,
Marianne
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18 Responses

  1. Thanks Marianne! That’s exactly what I needed. I have been neglecting my training in the last few months so it’s time to make it a priority again.
    And having a plan will be so helpful. I really do appreciate all the hard work you put in this website and all the workout you provide us with.
    I can’t wait to start tonight

  2. Melly says:

    So Marianne, do you feel it is important to have a gym membership in order to ‘lift heavier’, as if to say that one cannot truly reach certain goals without getting into the gym and therefore having access to heavier equipment?

    • Marianne says:

      In the absence of space and funds, then a gym membership is the best way to “lift heavier” and get faster results. You *can* get super strong with body weight and KBs, but I think weight training will be more successful for most people. IMO

  3. Nina_CZ says:

    Just in the middle for creating a 7 week workout plan for myself that I would start next month (currently doing my old one), so this helped me A LOT! Since I just started to work with kettlebells, I wanna start easier (I tend to do too much and overtrain, which I promised myself will NOT happen again). I have about 3 year experience with mostly bodyweight workouts, HIIT, using sandbag for extra challenge, but nothing ever touched me as much as kettlebells did :))) I am on a fat loss quest as well, and fasted cardio works for me pretty well. I am currently building my program around your workouts and cardio sessions along with yoga classes (helps me with my flexibility a lot). Thank you so much for sharing this :))

  4. chrysta says:

    Perfect timing! and wow what a lot of fantastic info on proper programming. There is so much mis-information out there and and finally to learn something that is solid and well rounded is great! You also explained it so well and is laid out in a way that is easy to follow. Thanks so much!

  5. Mickela says:

    This woke me up, I have been neglecting my kettlebells and doing a lot of running and yoga, can’t wait to start up again and having the info. above is a great motivator. home gyms are great because the are always accesible, the only drawback is that sometimes I wish I had a person watching my form etc.

  6. Indre says:

    Super thank you and I am just falling in love with your provided information and brain washing about glutes and the importancy of training them! Smashing!

  7. Isalia says:

    This is great Marianne, thank you for sharing. I am going to start the 4 weeks of the prescribed workouts you listed above on Monday – looking forward to it as well as not having the struggle of choosing which workout to do haha!

    Er, also, how totally rad would it be to see you moonwalking and juggling those kettlebells at the same time?!?!…….

  8. Michaela says:

    Ah…this is so good. Thank you for writing it !
    I have a question though…I for some reason get back pain when I do KB swings ( the muscles on the right back on the thoraco-lumbar region just spasm like crazy ). It happened so many times that I actually gave up on the swing. What other exercise/exercises can I use to sort of replace it ? In many of your workouts I did instead RDLs or SLRDLs, but now that I can finally comment again, I am asking you, since I had this on my mind for so many months.

    • Marianne says:

      Hmm, sorry you are having pain :( In the mean time, I would advise the RDL or SLRDLs and work on Hip Thrusts and Glute activation. This may help :)

      • Kirsten says:

        I have the same problem with lower back pain after kettlebell swings. In my case I believe the reason might be that I am rounding my back a little while bending my hips. I believe the rounding of the back is a result of too short hamstrings due to many years of spine problems in the past. My solution to the problem has been to stretch the hamstrings after workouts, hoping that they eventually will get “longer”, and using lighter kettlebells whenever I dare do the swings. In all other exercises I go heavier and heavier.

        Thank you for the post, Marianne. Very helpful, as always:-)Kirsten

        • Marianne says:

          This could be the case that you have tight hammies. I would continue with exercises like: RDLs, good mornings to strengthen the posterior chain and increase the dynamic stretch of the hammies, with out that fast force from the swing. Over time, it should get easier. Tightness can also be weakness, but it could also be from overuse of the hammies and low back as prime movers of the hip, when this role is meant to be the glutes. Work also on glute activation and strength and this will likely help your swing :)

          • Kirsten says:

            Thanks a lot, Marianne :-)
            Would you recommend heavy weight and few reps for the RDLs?
            Cheers, Kirsten

          • Marianne says:

            I think it’s always best to mix higher reps with low reps. So sometimes do heavier weight and another time do lighter.

      • Michaela says:

        Believe or not, when I do them single handed, I am fine. I don’t know why I didn’t try it before… I found this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgkqQGDNv1Y&list=PLC1A4B98F14838225&index=2 . I have been watching him for a while and he has some really good points about training and fixing injuries.

        • Marianne says:

          Michaela, He has some good points, but I don’t think the 2 handed swing is “bad” for the reasons he states. Shoulder forward rotation will occur with *any* lifting that involves 2 hands and it’s more likely that you will lift something heavy with 2 hands. Also, his point about the width of the stance is not as big a deal either. Some people’s glutes will actually fire a little better when they flare their feet out or have a wider stance.

          Generally, in KB training this is the order of teaching:

          - KB Two-hand Deadlift
          - Two-Handed Swing
          - Single Swing
          - Single Clean
          - Single snatch

          However, if you are finding it easier to swing with one arm, and you get no pain that way, then continue :)

          • Michaela says:

            Thank you for the response, Marianne ! I have been putting off the swing for so long because of the back spasms, I am kind of excited to actually be able to do some and be free of pain. So I will do them single handed. As I always say,especially when it comes about exercising, “something is better than nothing”.
            I might also have tight hamstrings, as I sit a lot and too often not properly work on my flexibility. So I’ll work on RDL’s as well.
            The comments section on your website is such a bag of gems, so much info from people asking and your answers :).

    • noel says:

      check you form. if the form is wrong you back will surely hurt :)

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