Are you interested in personalizing a bodybuilding workout to meet your goals, but not sure where to start? One recommendation for people working to achieve a specific aesthetic physique goal is to get more strategic with training and nutrition to force muscular adaptations. This comes down to proper training splits, principles of prioritization, muscle isolation, and effective programming and periodization.
In this blog, we’ll talk about how you can personalize your workouts to optimize your results.
Square One: Assessing
Start by assessing your physique for aesthetic strengths and deficiencies and comparing it to an ideal physique that you would like to achieve. This will help you visualize the goals more clearly and start to develop your program based on these specific outcomes.
Bodybuilding is an art where you are the artist, and your body is the canvas! Where an artist would use tools like clay to sculpt their masterpiece, bodybuilders will use training and nutrition protocols to develop their work of art.
A Hyper Look at Hypertrophy
Assuming you (or the athlete) are at a high level of training and work capacity, stabilization and strength endurance are sufficient, most of the training will take place in the muscular development (hypertrophy) phase. This training phase is most appropriate to create muscular adaptations for bodybuilding goals.
There are many ways to structure a body-building plan and personalize it to your specific goals.
A basic training split could consist of 4 days per week with a push day, pull day, 1-2 total leg days, and a total body workout. In this approach, you can prioritize lagging areas with higher set volumes per week and more isolated exercise selections to target these muscle groups.
As you become more advanced, your training split should evolve to avoid a plateau. For instance, you could add additional training days per week for a more complex training split with an emphasis on the muscles you would like to develop the most.
• Mon – Chest & Upper Back/Lats
• Tues – Shoulders & Arms
• Wed – Hamstrings, Glutes, Low back (posterior chain)
• Thurs – Rest
• Friday – Chest & Back
• Saturday – Quads, Calves, Shoulders
• Sunday – Active Rest Day with Corrective Exercise
Other principles to incorporate into your training to help personalize your bodybuilding workouts and achieve your goals are progressive overloading and undulating periodization.
Want to know more about how you can implement these tips into your training? Look into our Physique and Bodybuilding Coach course for more info.
Overloading Over Time
The principle of progressive overload states that one or more of the acute variables should progressively increase over time to avoid plateau or stalled progress. The most common method is to increase the resistance or load used by 3-5% every few weeks. However, there are many different variables at your disposal such as time under tension (tempo), duration, distance, intensity, resistance, and more.
As for undulating periodization, this is another great tool to help keep clients in a specific training plan much longer without plateauing while still achieving personalized goals. The strategy here is to integrate multiple training phases of NASM’s OPT™ Model into a weekly or bi-weekly program.
One example of undulating periodization in a 1-week block is to mix in some phase 2 strength endurance days, phase 3 hypertrophy days, and even some phase 4 or 5 max strength/power days.
The bi-weekly method is to train in a given phase for week 1 (i.e., phase 2 strength endurance) and alternate with a different phase in week 2 (i.e., phase 3 hypertrophy).
These undulating methods combined with progressive overload, higher volumes around lagging areas, and strategic training splits will help you create the perfect roadmap to build your personalized bodybuilding plan.
Be Selective, Be Smart
Another key tool in developing your physique is exercise selection. Be sure to mix in a variety of exercises including free weights, machines, cables, and compound movements that challenge your body. You can personalize the exercises to meet your specific goals and emphasize the exercises that tend to work best for you (or that you simply enjoy most!)
Bonus Tip: Apply and integrate Corrective Exercises into your warm-ups or on rest days! This will help accelerate results by inhibiting and lengthening over-active muscles, increasing muscle activity of target muscle groups, increasing the available range of motion (ROM) of the joints, and decreasing the risk of injuries or inefficient movement patterns.
To take your training and coaching knowledge to the next level, be sure to check out NASM's Physique and Bodybuilding Coach (NASM-PBC) course!