When designing a personal weight training program it is important to have a clear idea of what your goals are. Whether you want to increase your overall strength, build a well-proportioned and balanced physique, lose weight, or if you training to recover from sort type of injury, you must meticulously design a routine that builds every muscle group in the body. For many people these days considerations such as a work schedule, family commitments, or other requirements may impact the time they have in which to implement a training program. In the beginning especially, special consideration must be given to how much recovery time your body will require; with careful planning however a personal training program can be developed that suits all of your needs.
Setting goals: To design the most effective workout, it is important to understand exactly what you want to accomplish by exercising. People workout for a lot of different reasons aside from their overall health, and while the level of devotion may be the same across the board, the results usually are not. If you want to build muscle mass and get "huge" so to speak, then your program will vary from that of someone who is simply trying to lose weight, as will the type of equipment to use. Visualize what you want and once you've set that image to memory, it becomes much easier to design a plan that will aid you in accomplishing your goals.
Setting goals will not only aid you in designing your program to be the most effective, but also gives you something to strive for when motivation, or lack thereof, becomes a factor. Losing your motivation happens at times, and it does happen to everyone at one point or another. Whether you miss one workout, or an entire week, an occasional lack of motivation occurs. The key to overcoming a lack of motivation is to not let it discourage you, there's nothing wrong with taking a day off here and there, but it would be best not to spend it laying around on the couch. Understanding your goals will keep you motivated inspite of any challenges that may arise, and the greatest thrill of all is when you have the opportuntiy to exceed the goals that you have set for yourself.
Time Constraints: In a perfect situation we'd all be able to do exactly what we want to do at any time that we choose, but unfortunately that isn't the case. Your training program will likely have to be adapted to serve a greater schedule, such as your job schedule. Health issues such as injuries or illness can prevent some people from doing some of the same exercises that others can perform. This doesn't have to stop you from putting together a great training program though. Prior injuries are important to consider however because there may be exercises that you simply cannot perform. When dealing with prior injuries or illness, don't rely solely on the advice of the "gym rats" that you come across in your gym, seek the advice of a medical professional who understands your own specific needs.
Now on to the program itself,to design an effective program you must first consider all of the specific issues that have been addressed above and determine which of these situations applies the most to you. If your goal is build sheer muscle mass and become a competitive weightlifter or bodybuilder, then be prepared to spend a lot of time in the gym. This could represent as much as twenty hours a week in the gym over the course of five to six days, and will require that you rely on the principle of "periodization", which means modifying your workout every few weeks or so to avoid hitting a wall, often referred to as a "plateau". When designing such a complex and extensive progam it is helpful to create your own training diary.
When dealing with time constraints it may be necessary to develop what is sometimes referred to as a split-program; whether you are a just beginning or are at an intermidiate stage this system works in the same way. A split program requires isolating muscle groups that work in conjunction with one another and training them on the same day. The pectoral muscles of the chest, the triceps located on the back of the upper arm, and the front deltoids all work together to perform many types of pressing motions, therefore it is a highly effective practice to work these muscle groups on the same day. An example of this type of program would entail following up your bench press sets with tricep extension sets. Training the front and middle deltoid muscles on this day can also yield noticible results, just to be sure to isolate these groups thoroughly to avoid overtraining any of them over the course of the week.
In the case of training the back, the biceps aid in the movements that are most common for building the lateral muscles of the back, such as rows or lat pull-downs. When dividing your training scedule into a push/pull sytem such as this it is effective to follow up your sets of back exercises with bicep curls. As mentioned above, the deltoids should also be divided up in this manner, with the rear deltoids being trained with the back. With a little research you can discover all of the muscle groups that work together in this manner and custom design your training program. Another effective form of a split, or push/pull, program is to divide the leg muscles into two groups as well; it is accomplished by devoting one entire workout to quadriceps located on the front of the upper leg, the hamstrigns and gluts with the abck muslces, and train your calves on the same day as of your upper body muscle groups. Just be sure to space your upper body split program, and lower body split program, far enough apart throughout the week so that certain muscles groups aren't over-taxed by overlapping exercises.
By relying on a split-program you can accomplish a lot more in the gym within a much shorter period of time. There is another way to minimize your time spent in the gym, and that is to train opposing groups together in what are called supersets. This contradicts the spilt-program mentioned above, and this type of reversal in your training regiment is what is called "periodization". To perform supersets we'll use the biceps and triceps as an example. The guiding principle behind this technique is that when one muscle group contracts, it's opposing muscle group relaxes. To accomplish this effectively immediately following a set of bicep curls, and without a rest period in-between, perform a set of tricep extensions. These supersets force the muscle group that is not being used to relax and speeds its recovery rate, but it is important to consider your energy expenditure in this case.
If you rely on a superset program then be sure to alternate which muscle group you work first from workout to workout, this is because of the drain it puts on your body's capacity to fuel the muscles. The exercise that comes second may always seem harder because it is receiving slightly less fuel from your energy reserves than the first muscle group recieved. For this reason it is important to alternate the order to avoid one of these groups receiving a better workout from week to week. Some other opposing muscle groups that this principle can be applied to are the chest and back, the quadriceps and hamstrings, and the front and rear deltoids.
These are only a few suggestions and considerations when it comes to creating an effective training program. There are many fitness magazines and resources of various sorts out there that contain tons of information about ways to best utilize the time you spend in the gym. One of the most informative books to reference, regardless of what your goals may be, is the "Arnold Schwarzenegger: Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding". This book is not only filled with many different ypes of exercises and training techniques, but dietary and scheduling tips as well. The most important thing to consider when designing a weight training program is that it must be designed to fit your needs, what works for other people may not be the best thing for you, so feel free to experiment with various exercises to find out what works best for you.