Get In Touch

To make an enquiry with Craig Budgen,

please email


Where To Start With Your Gym Programming

Getting yourself up for going to the gym can be hard enough but what about what you’re actually going to do in the gym whilst you’re in there? 

In the health and fitness world, one of the most frustrating elements can be when you don’t get rewarded for your hard work. 

Working hard is good, working smart is better, working hard and smart is best. 

What do I mean by this? 

It doesn’t matter how hard you perceive to be pushing yourself if your effort is going into the wrong place. 

Going quickly down the wrong road isn’t eventually going to bring you to the right road. 

Efficiency with time is something I am very conscious of with my clients. 

I’m with them 3-4 hours a week at best and we need to make those precious hours count.

My clients are way to busy to be in the gym for 8-10 hours a week and there’s a good chance you are too. 

That’s life. You have work, family, friends and other passions to follow. 

And you should make time for all of the above, to go alongside your training. 

So once you’ve committed to the gym, you have 3 primary options… 

1 – Hire A Personal Trainer

2 – Devise Your Own Training Routine

3 – A Hybrid Approach

Option 1 is great if you have the financial resources and don’t have the time (or desire) to learn how to programme a gym workout effectively. 

Option 2 is great if you have the time and desire to learn how to programme a gym workout effectively. 

Option 3 is great if you can’t afford a full-time Personal Trainer but do have the resources for a session or 2 a month, or to communicate through online training. 

This blog post is predominantly for if you are in the option 2 camp. 

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself to ensure your workouts are covering the basics. 

1 – Is there balance? 

For example…

Do you have a back exercise for every chest exercise?

For every quad dominant exercise, is there a hamstring or posterior chain focussed exercise somewhere? 

It’s doesn’t always have to be a perfect 1:1 ratio of most opposing muscles or movements but if you’re unsure where to start using that ratio is a pretty solid way to go. 

You don’t want to create structural imbalances, which can lead to injuries down the track. 

2 – Is there progressive overload? 

How is your programme going to change session-to-session? Are you going to increase the weight, reps, sets, etc? 

Repeating the same programme in exactly the same way every time for months is quickly going to lead to a plateau, which a very frustrating place to be in. 

3 – Is there enough repetition of the programme? 

To measure progress, you have to compare like-for-like. 

That means repeating the same exercises in the same order for a number of times and not just flip-flopping day-to-day or week-to-week with completely new programmes. 

You can do this if you want entertainment, but not if you are serious about making progress.

Getting it right between points 2 and 3 above is critical.

Here’s a quick example of what a full-body programme could look like… 

A1 – Back Squat, 4 Sets, 8 Reps, 90s Rest

A2 – Pull Ups, 4 Sets, 8 Reps, 90s Rest 

B1 – Leg Curl, 4 Sets, 8 Reps, 90s Rest

B2 – Bench Press, 4 Sets, 8 Reps, 90s Rest 

C1 – Roll Out, 4 Sets, 10 Reps, 90s Rest

C2 – Air Bike, 4 Sets, 30s Sprint, 90s Rest 

With this structure, you could look to have incremental weight increases over a 4 – 6 session block to ensure there’s progressive overload. 

Have a think about what’s going to work best in the long-term. 

Can you be bothered or do you even have the time to learn all about gym programming? 

If you can’t, get yourself a competent trainer in some capacity to take away the guesswork and put your mind at ease that when you are in the gym working your arse off, you are channeling that work in the right way.

Thanks for reading, have a great day.


Do you need confidential help with your health, fitness or nutrition? I have a range of services available, with Personal Training in my Private Gym in Manchester, also at your home or workplace in the surrounding areas. For clients further afield, I provide Online Personal TrainingNutritional Consultancy & Private Fitness Holidays.

Make An Enquiry

© 2023 Craig Budgen | #1 Personal Trainer Manchester

Newsletter Signup

× Make An Enquiry