My Exercise Program

Five times per week, I lift heavy things in a gym. Two out of these five times are spent with a personal trainer. It's probably the best money I've spent, health-wise. It's what got me started with this gym routine in the first place (I started my exercise regimen with the PT two years ago and only later started going on my own).

Because I like my rabbit holes, I created my own exercise routine, tested it over several weeks, and asked my PT to help me optimize it. It's still a beta but reasonably complete and should target most muscle groups.

So I am selling it today for $49.99, but if you use code "LOLWHAT" at checkout, you get 20% off... I'm joking; here it is for free.

Disclaimer: This program is optimized for me. I train five times weekly, and my legs are developed enough only to need one weekly leg day. You could use this template to combine both push and pull days for weekly sessions to have a Push-Pull-Leg program. Depending on the available machines, you'd choose 8 to 9 out of all the exercises listed on your push and pull days.

Day Exercise Sets Reps
Monday (Push) Bench Press 4 6-8
Incline Bench Press Machine 3 6-8
Decline Bench Press Machine 3 6-8
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 6-8
Machine Chest Fly 3 8-12
Tricep Triangle Pushdown 4 6-8
Lateral Raise 3 8-12
Front Raise 3 8-12
Overhead Tricep Extension 3 6-8
Tuesday (Pull) Seated (Cable) Row 4 6-8
Single-arm Dumbbell Row 3 6-8
Face Pulls 3 8-12
Reverse Pec Deck 3 8-12
Dumbbell Bicep Curl 4 6-8
Hammer Curl 3 6-8
Barbell Shrugs 3 8-12
Pulldown Machine 3 6-8
Cable Lat Pulldown 3 6-8
Biceps Cable Curl 3 6-8
Straight Arm Lat Pulldown 3 8
Thursday (Push) Bench Press Machine 4 6-8
Machine Shoulder Press 4 6-8
Tricep Triangle Pushdown 4 6-8
Tricep Dips 3 6-8
Lateral Raise 4 6-8
Front Raise 4 6-8
Cable Chest Fly 3 6-8
Overhead Dumbbell Pullover 4 6-8
Lateral Raise Machine 3 6-8
Machine Chest Fly 3 6-8
Machine Chest Press 4 6-8
Lateral Cable Raises 4 6-8
Friday (Pull) Seated Machine Row 3 6-8
Pulldown Machine 3 6-8
(Cable/Machine) Lat Pulldown 4 8-12
Pull Ups 3 8-10
Reverse Pec Deck 3 8-12
Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 6-8
Dumbbell Bicep Curl 4 6-8
Hammer Curl 3 6-8
Barbell Shrugs 3 8-12
Straight Arm Lat Pulldown 3 8
Face Pulls 3 8-12
Weekends (Leg & Core) Leg Press Machine 4 8-12
Leg Curl Machine 4 8-12
Leg Extension Machine 3 8-12
Calf Raise Machine 4 8-12
Weighted Crunch Machine 3 8-12
Weighted Crunch Machine 2 3 8-12
Hyperextension 3 8-12
Side Bend 3 8-12
Leg Raises 3 6-8
Cable Crunches 3 8-12
Cable Woodchoppers 3 6-8
Hack Squat Machine 4 8-12
Hip Abduction 4 8-12
Hip Adduction 4 8-12

How I use this table: My goal is to progress weekly or biweekly, depending on my fatigue levels, by either lifting heavier (using weights to go up 0.5-1kg is perfectly fine even if some machines jump up by 10kg at once) or doing one more rep per set.

If the table tells me to do 4 sets at 8 reps, I do 6 sets. The first two sets only count as a warmup as I do around 20% of my current max weight 15-20 times for the first and about 40% of my max weight 10-12 times for the second. It's only after these two sets that I start counting. My goal is to approach my max weight progressively so that the two last sets I do are at that maximum weight, with the final set to be either slightly heavier or incorporate one more rep.

That was a lot of information, so let me showcase it with one example. Here is what a Seated Machine Row would look like.

  • First Set (warmup): 20 Reps at 15kg
  • Second Set (warmup): 15 Reps at 30KG
  • Third Set: 10 Reps at 54KG
  • Fourth Set: 10 Reps at 61KG
  • Fifth Set: 10 Reps at 73KG
  • Sixth Set: 10 Reps at 75KG (alternatively: 11 Reps at 73KG)

I am satisfied, if, during that last set, I could theoretically do one more proper rep before failure (we call that one rep in reserve, or 1RIR). I then jot down the four counting sets in my notebook before transferring the maximum weight to my spreadsheet.

If you only get started in the gym, don't try to get close to the weights in that example. Start slow and light, and try to find where your limits are. Use the 1RIR principle to find your current maximum weight and write it down.