How To Plan A Week Of Training

There are lots of ways to plan a week of training, but here are some the fundamentals that go into most of my programs for clients. If you feel like your program is broken and you’re not making progress, you’ll want to investigate these areas.


First off, ask yourself: how is my weekly program is structured?

Are you getting enough recovery between heavy workouts? How many heavy workouts can you handle per week for certain body parts or key exercises? And within that, how many sets are you able to recover from on each exercise?

It’s easy to do some googling and get a rough idea of how many sets and reps are within a normal range for a given workout. For strength training, google Prilepin's Chart as a starting point.

Assuming that your sets and reps aren’t way off base, you want to look at planning your week.


Within a cycle of training, your basic goal is to make teeny tiny progress week over week. As simple as that sounds, you generally want to make some progress each week and have a good performance during each workout.

Does this mean hitting a new 1-rep-max each week? Nope. In this dimension that’s not feasible.

But let’s say you’re working on back squats with a 3-sec pause in the bottom for 4-6 reps. You want to be able to use a little more weight or do a few more reps than the previous week. In some cases it might even mean doing the same number of reps as last week but having them feel easier, as if you had more reps in reserve.

It’s nothing earth shattering, but for the given variation and rep-range that you’re working on, try to do a little better.

As long as you’re able to do just a smidgen better, you’re looking good.

And as soon as you start staying the same or doing worse (aside from the odd workout here and there that’s just an off day), then you’ve arrive at rule #2.


Rule number two is basically “when something stops working, change it.” Insightful stuff, I know!

At that point the current program has served it’s purpose and taken you as far as it can. Now it’s time to make more substantial changes and pick new exercise variations or rep ranges.

Here’s an example with a bench press workout that you’d do weekly.

Week 1: Paused Bench Press 3 sets of 8 @ 200lbs
Week 2: Paused Bench Press 3 sets of 6 @ 205lbs
Week 3: Paused Bench Press 3 sets of 8 @ 205lbs
Week 4: Paused Bench Press 3 sets of 7 @ 205lbs
*performance dropped off, so it’s time for a change

Week 5: Bench Press 4x4@235
*In this new phase we’ve changed the exercise variation from a paused bench to a normal one and also changed the repetition range to help spur more progress. Depending on the situation, it might have also been appropriate to take recovery week, something I’m going to talk more about next week.
Week 6: Bench Press 4x4@240
Week 7: Bench Press 4x5@240
And so on…


The first question to ask is: can I consistently accomplish what’s in my workout and am I able to progress a little each time?

If you can follow the plan and see a bit of progress, congratulations, you’re on track!

If you can’t, you’re either doing too much or too little.

If you come into your workouts feeling beat down and without much pop, chances are you’re doing too much. For strength training, most people don’t do well with more than 2-4 hard workouts per week. You can usually train upper body exercises more each week, doing hard training around 3 times. Lower body training is more taxing and most people probably do better with only 1-2 hard workouts per week on these.

That might break down to something like this:

Monday: Hard lower body training
*with Sunday off, you know that you’ll have the best chance a feeling recovered for this key workout
Tuesday: Hard upper body training
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: Hard upper and lower body training
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Hard upper body training
Sunday: Off


Monday: Hard lower body training
Tuesday: Hard upper body training
Wednesday: Light lower body training + extra core work + skill training
Thursday: Off
Friday: Hard lower body training
Saturday: Hard upper body training
Sunday: Off

If you come into your workouts feeling fresh but you’re not making progress, you’re either not training enough, not training hard enough, or there’s a bigger problem with the larger structure of your training program month over month. I’m going to talk about that in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!