Lots of my clients want to work out on their own in addition to the sessions they do with me.

This is certainly something I encourage as it will enhance the benefits of their personal training sessions.

Some want to workout at home and some in a gym.

Here are some considerations in planning a solo workout


My clients have a variety of goals, some examples of which are

  • Get back to exercise after having a baby
  • Lower Bodyfat %
  • Master a Skill
  • Get Stronger
  • Get Fitter
  • Make Fitness part of daily routine
  • Train for an event

Its important to know what your goals are to when planning a workout, so that you can use your time wisely and effectively.

It is also important to have realistic expectations and make sure you are thinking about your journey with an appropriate timeline.

Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is crucial. The good news is that a strength training workout will get you the results you’re after (when combined with the right eating plan).

Planning a workout - how to choose your exercises


You need to consider how many times a week, and for how much time, it is realistic for you to train outside the personal training sessions. You need to plan a workout to use your time efficiently.

Note that for strength training a MINIMUM of two days per week is needed to maximise muscle growth. Ideally three times per week. This is due to the principle of muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis refers to the way the body repairs and grows muscle tissue after exercise. It is how the body builds new muscle after physical activity.

Muscle broken down by exercise rebuilds through the chemical process of muscle protein synthesis. This physical growth reaction takes 24 to 72 hours to complete for a typical adult.

It is important to use the muscles again shortly after the process for them to maintain changes

Structuring your workouts depends on your current fitness and ability level and can get quite complex. There are lots of variations, but I don’t want to go into this in detail here, and for the majority of my clients a full body session will be appropriate.


Basic movement patterns are a way of categorising exercises based on their biomechanical demands. Classifying exercises into these categories makes it easy to plan a balanced workout.

To simplify it I suggest you consider exercises from the following categories:

Lower-Body Push

Squat, Lunge

Hip Hinge

Deadlift, KB Swing


Single leg RDL, Lunge, Curtsey, Single Leg Squat

Vertical Push

Overhead Press (various)

Vertical Pull

Lat pull down, Renegade Row, Pull Up

Horizontal Push

Bench Press, Press Up

Horizontal Pull

Bent Over Row, Single Arm Row, T Bar Row

Rotational and Diagonal

Russian Twist, Lateral Med Ball Throw, Cable Woodchop

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realise there’s a near endless number of exercises that fall into these patterns — and that’s the beauty of designing your own workout.


Something I would suggest when planning your workout is to think about your body position. Avoid setting exercises that put you in a bent over or prone position together so as not to fatigue the lower back.

For example, if you do a bench row or a deadlift, set it with something that takes you into a supine (face up) position.


If you are planning your workout in a gym it can be useful to use fixed weight machines. These complement free weights well and are also generally safe to do on your own.

Think about taking another piece of equipment to the machine to set the machine exercise with so that you don’t ‘lose’ the piece of equipment to another gym bunny when you wander off to do another exercise!!

You could take a mat, dumbbell, kettlebell etc and find an appropriate exercise to set with the machine exercise.