Designing a strength training program

Whilst weight loss can be achieved without doing any kind of training or exercise (as the saying going: lbs are lost in the kitchen, oz in the gym), there are big advantages to doing strength training. These include: Positive health and mood effects, and the maintainance of your metabolism by telling your body to burn fat rather than muscle (which will help stop you from putting the weight back on).

KettlebellsWhen designing a training program, the best approach is:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Stick to a few basic fundamental exercises (no isolation exercises such as curls etc)
  • Go heavy but not too heavy
  • Keep the reps down
  • Warm up first using mobility exercises

The human body moves in 5 fundamental ways, which should all be covered to ensure a balanced program.  (Sample exercises would include)

  • Upper body Push (Shoulder press, bench press, press ups)
  • Upper body Pull (Pull ups and rows)
  • Squat (Goblet squat, Lunges, Pistols, front and back squats)
  • Hinge (Deadlifts, Swing)

My programs are in 3 parts, vary the exercises but keep the same structure. I prefer alternating 2 different workouts, training 3 times per week. Change when you feel stale.

Workout structure:

Part 1: Strength

Strength is a skill and should be practiced, with perfect technique.

12 single reps, completed within 15 minutes, resting as necessary. Use approx 60-70% of the estimated maximum weight you think you could lift. Doesn’t matter if you get it a bit wrong.

Add 10% ish every 4 weeks.

Best exercises include:

Deadlifts, Clean and press, Squats, Pull ups, Bench press

Part 2: Heavy couplet

2 exercises done back to back for 5 sets of 5 reps. Keep the weight relatively high. Rest as little as possible after doing both exercises, and not at all between them.

Pick the exercises from any 2 of the push, pull or squat categories above. For example:

  • Pull ups, and press ups
  • Presses and goblet squats
  • Rows and Lunges

Part 3: Finisher

5 rounds of 2 exercises continuously.

Pick either 2 handed heavy Kettlebell swings (assuming good technque) or Burpees, do 20 reps.

Then do 2 minutes of running, skipping, stationary bike, eliptical trainer, rowing or similar, as a medium pace.

Repeat 5 times without resting

Stretch and cool down.


As humans we are built to walk. So do so, often. A long walk every week works wonders and complements any training program.


Important note

The program assumes you are in good health with no existing conditions, you should check with a qualified medical professional before embarking on a new training regime.  You should also thoroughly warm up before hand, and use a personal trainer to ensure you are doing the exercises properly.