How to Create a Workout Program

How To Create a Workout Program


How to Create a Workout Program

This post will give
you an introduction
to how to create a
workout program
by seeing what mine
looks like. To clarify,
it’s my trainer who
does it, but as I am
learning more, it has
become a joint task.

I know! I know! Certainly the quality of these two pages leaves sooo much to be desired. For example, the dark background, small print, and incomprehensible format are all challenging. But, bear with me, as all will be revealed!

Maybe with the next one, I’ll have figured out how to make it lighter and easier to read. And if any of you have ideas of what I can do, please leave them in a Comment, below. I just took a photo of the hard copies, saved them as jpegs, then uploaded them here.

Therefore, consider this an introduction to how to create a workout program using mine as a possible model. I’ll redo it when I’ve figured out how to!

Planning Your Way to Success


So, what is this? This is the system, my gym, Planet Fitness, uses to give us a methodically progressing structure for working out. Therefore, the system you see here shows one pattern for how to create a workout program.

It’s part of their free Design Your Own Program system. Their system enables us to create a plan with the advice, expertise and analysis of the trainer. However, not everyone wants or needs it.

Additionally, those of us who want updates of the original can meet with the trainer as often as we and the trainer deem appropriate. For example, when I first started, we met approximately every month. Now we meet every three months.


In my experience so far, updating has involved:

  • Changes in equipment and/or devices to use
  • Number of sets and reps as I progress
  • Recommended weight changes (Not my body, people! The weights!
  • An occasional special challenge (just got my first, and it’s got me super jazzed!)
  • Other ways of mixing up routines, keeping short and long-term goals in mind

My understanding is that every Planet Fitness trainer does things differently. And, of course, it will also vary from gym to gym. Consequently, don’t view my experience of how to create a workout program as the norm. It likely may not be.


In my last post, I told you a little something about Chris Butler, the trainer at my Planet Fitness. You’ll learn more about him, his philosophy and how he works once he starts his contributions here. As you will see, Chris’ approach has largely shaped my experience.

In addition to my workout programs, I will soon be posting weekly information about my changing weight and measurements. You will also learn about my food plan screw-ups, other failures, and “learning opportunities”. But I have always refocussed and recommitted. I have also learned to incorporate “planned” or intentional “failures” into my food routine. Does cheat day sound like a familiar concept? Keep a lookout for all these topics!

By the way, I do not intend this to be an advertisement for Planet Fitness. I don’t receive any financial or other remueration for talking about them. And Planet Fitness has nothing to do with the blog. Thus, this is just one of the parts of the blog where I tell you what I’m doing and how I’m progressing.

What to Look for on this Program Spread Sheet

The spread sheet format of this “how to create a workout program” model has several sections, organized both vertically from top to bottom and horizontally from left to right.


Which Muscle Groups and When

Each vertical section on the left side of the page contains information about a muscle group or groups. Furthermore, you will see the day in the sequence you plan to work on them. This organization depends on what you and the trainer decide you should do and how many days per week you intend to do so.

Sets, Reps, and Devices

Under the name of each muscle group, the trainer lists the machines and other devices to use for that section. You will also see on the column’s right side the number of Sets and Reps to perform with each device.

Additional Considerations

These activities and how much to do each take into account one’s age (me, 73 and kickin’ it!) and any physical issues. For instance, mine include my weight, an umbilical hernia, crappy knee tendons, carpal tunnel syndrome, super-tight back muscles, and my ever-present foul temper and mouth. Not so sure those last two aren’t benefits rather then limitations, frankly! Harrumph.

My Personal Program

So, for me, the vertical organization is as follows:

  • Chest/Triceps – Day 1
  • Back/Abs/Biceps – Day 2
  • Shoulders – Day 3
  • Legs – Day 4
  • 360 Room – Day 5
    For clarity, the 360 Room is the location of the Synergy360 equipment, Apparently, this is usually used sor group workouts but also for individuals. Here is a link where you can find more about it, if you’d like to:

Use Notes to Help You Remember Things

My notes on the spread sheet show that I have added other machines and strategies to various sections. This is the result of things Chris has had me do in different group classes he teaches at Planet Fitness.

Additionally, following some of the machines, I have put notes about seat and other positions and settings. I note these things because my memory is the pits. I’d love to chalk it up to age, but I don’t think I can get away with that. Lack of attention and focus are much more likely!


Notes and Weight

To the right of the muscle groups column, you will see one column for Notes and three for Weight. Both Chris and I put notes that don’t fit elsewhere in the Notes section relevant to the particular muscle group .

The Weight colums are for recording the weight to set for each activity. Therefore, I can track the changes over time in the weight I can lift on each device.

Follow My Progress!

Once I’ve posted earlier versions of this spread sheet, you will see large improvements in the weights I can lift. However, there are also muscle groups for which I have not been able to increase the weight much at all!

For example, my shoulders. Total disaster! Even though I have developed noticeable shoulder muscle since I started last July, the amount of weight I can lift has remained frustratingly static. Consequently, Chris must constantly reassure me that this is not at all uncommon. I hate it but don’t complain about it any more – much. By the way, managing expectations is one of his skills!

My chest muscles have shown exactly the oppostite pattern from my shoulders. Although I have increased the amount I can lift on certain devices, I have observed remarkably little muscle development. Chris keeps having me try different things, though, and just recently I’m finally feeling a bit of development. I am ecstatic about that!!

APRIL 23 – JULY 27

I have two goals for this period of time, and I’m very excited about both!

  • Goal #1. Increase the weight I can lift with each device by 5 pounds each week – if possible. As I increase the weight, I will need to reduce the number of reps for each set. It occurs to me as I write this that I may need a little more guidance from Chris on this. Stay tuned for an update!

    By the way, building muscles or bulking up do not concern me. I want muscle! I want to be and to look strong! But not every woman wants that. Plus, I want to fill the bat wings of my upper arms with something besides fat as I lose weight! Who can relate?!
  • Goal #2. Increase the weight of a single lift on the Smith Machine from 50 pounds to 100 pounds. Here’s a link to information about the Smith Machine, if you’re not familiar with it. I certainly wasn’t before last July!

    I am so jazzed about this one that I can hardly stand it! See the details of how I’m to do this on the upper right side of the spread sheet. If I achieve that, you’ll all hear me screaming all the way from here in Metro Phoenix, AZ, to wherever you are! Yee Haw!


So, there you go! In conclusion, and although this is a longer than intended intro to how to create a workout program, it shows you one organizational method to use – my own and how I know what to do and keep track. I just hope it made sense to you all. As you should have seen by now, I do tend to talk an awful lot!

And as I’ve indicated, over the next few weeks, I’ll be uploading my earlier versions to show you my progression. Then, as I move forward with this process, I’ll upload the new ones from each 3-month or longer period.

It is always my fond hope that you will find this information helpful, and I welcome and look forward to your comments, questions and feedback!

And remember — Fitness with Attitude, everyone!

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