Source: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

How to design an effective and smart workout plan you can stick to

There should be three main sections in every session, writes personal trainer David Last.

OVER THE LAST number of weeks, I have given you plenty of information on the various different stages of your training.

Every detail was covered starting off with a movement mobility test, simple basic movements that people need help on and tips to help you keep consistent in all of this.

It’s all well and good knowing the information but how do you mash it all up into an effective 60 minute session?

A big focus when I’m working with clients on a daily basis is to educate them on the whats and whys of their training session.

The goal of any trainer should be to guide their client the right way and a really good sign of a top class trainer is to educate their client with regards to their training plan so that they are well equipped and a lot more knowledgeable when their trainer is not around them any more.

  • Can they now train and design a correct training structure themselves?
  • Does the client know how to warm up correctly?
  • Can they structure a session that really is focused on how they are feeling on that particular day?
  • Are they continuing to make progress when that trainer isn’t around?
  • Is their training structure a smart and effective longevity plan?

Let’s start with the warm up

This is an important part of your workout.

You should set aside 10-15 minutes and have a certain layout that is going to increase your temperature and blood flow around the body.

The goal here really should be to move, stretch and activate different muscles, joints and bodyparts along with working on areas of your mobility that might need some attention.

Ideally speaking I will break my warm session up like this.

Raise temperature and get the body moving first.

This could be anything from jumping on a bike, doing some easy skipping or even getting warm on the rowing machine. All of this should be easy intensity and nothing too taxing.

From there I focus on movements and this can vary from basic leg and arm swings or perhaps bringing in a little power movement like swings or broad jumps to get that central nervous system a little more alert before we move on further into the session.

While doing this I will go back and forth with some activation and stretching drills that my body needs on that particular day. This could be anything from working with the lacrosse ball, doing some x band walks or even just spending some time hanging out on a bar.

Here is yesterday’s structure and I chipped through two full rounds of this which took a total of 15 minutes. It was nothing too taxing and was perfect for what I needed on that particular day going forward into the next portion of the session.

Strength work

No matter what age, gender, goal or fitness level, I have always said that everybody should have some emphasis on strength work in their training plan.

Generally speaking I suggest you set aside at least 20 minutes for this portion of your workout and you pick exercises that generally are the so-called bigger movements.

I’m a big fan of having compound movements in people’s programmes and for this part of the session I suggest you pick out movements such as squats, deadlifts and pressing and pulling movements.

It could look like this:

Six sets (two warm up deadlift and pressing sets at 50-60% load and four full work sets) — ideally get through these four drills in one whole circuit and take your time chipping through this 20-25 minute routine.

In each full circuit give yourself 4-5 minutes to complete and start again at the top of each fifth minute.

I always recommend using a clock in your strength workouts as this will train you to control your training time and tempo. A lot of the time I see people rushing through this part of the workout when there really is no need.

Trap bar deadlift

Four work sets 75-85% load and went with 3-5 reps each set.

Half kneeling single arm landmine press

Four work sets 70%-75% load and went with eight reps each arm each set.

Banded pass through

Four work sets using a PVC or band and went with 12 reps.

Hollow rocks

Four work sets and went with 15 reps.


Conditioning work

This can vary from client to client on what is needed on that particular day. In this portion I am going to bring in a EMOM, which means every minute on the minute.

The goal here is to work on some other lighter and smaller movements while spiking the heart rate a little. Today we will focus on four exercises and in each exercise, I will give you 60 seconds to perform the movement.

It is 16 minutes in length, which equates to four rounds.

Here we have some extra lower body and upper body work along with some conditioning and core work. The goal is not to go heavy while focusing on getting some higher reps in so the load should be 50-70% of your strength level.

At the top of every minute, perform one exercise and ideally you should get 20 seconds rest or so before you move onto the next exercise.

  • Minute 1: Reverse alternate goblet lunge x 7/7 each leg

  • Minute 2: Renegade row x 10 reps (push, pull, pull= 1 rep)

  • Minute 3: Kettlebell swing x 15 reps

  • Minute 4: Ab wheel rollout x 10 reps

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

Subscribe to The42 podcasts here:



Deadlifts are dangerous? No, being weak is dangerous!

Progress doesn’t need to be complicated and more thoughts from the bomb shelter

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies. You can change your settings or learn more here.