How To Build Your Own Strength Workout

The best part of group exercise is undeniable – the energy. At Barry’s, it’s indescribable what goes down in the Red Room when 58 athletes are simultaneously working their asses off, pulsating music soundtracking each rep and sprint. I’ve got chills just thinking about it. It quite literally gets me out of bed in the morning. However, even the most dedicated class go-er will sometimes need to workout alone, and when you do you’ll want to be prepared. Use the format below to help you create your own strength workout to get through those solo sessions in the gym.

Components of Creating Your Own Strength Building Workout

Warm Up

Don’t skip it, okay? I used to be one of “those” who thought my walk to the gym counted as my warm-up. Wrong.

Your warm-up serves two purposes – both mental and physical – to maximize performance and prevent injury. There is no hard and fast rule of how much time is needed to warm up correctly, but most trainers recommend 5-20 minutes, which will vary depending on the level of your workout.

I like to warm up with cardio, gradually increasing the intensity throughout the warm-up period. I start slow, and get closer to the high-intensity segment of the workout, around 70%-ish of max effort. I’ll warm up with cardio even if I’m lifting and will gauge exertion based on my heart rate.

Accessory Set 1

Even with a warm-up, I don’t like to dive right into a lifting session with the meat of the training set. By implementing a superset or a few sets incorporating smaller muscle groups you get your body acclimated for some heavier or compound lifts. The purpose of these “accessory” sets isn’t unlike the warm-up, to maximize performance and prevent injury.

Accessory sets can be anything from a bicep curl using dumbbells or quad extensions using a machine.

Main Set

Exactly what it sounds like, the meat of your set involving compound movements and usually the 2-3 hardest drills in your daily program. Your exact reps, sets, and recovery times will depend on your goals but for general fitness reps should be within 12-20 reps, with 60-seconds of recovery between sets, at 60-70% of your one rep max.

Accessory Set 2

A super set or a few sets incorporating smaller muscle groups or a single body party


A quick set, usually no more than 8-10 minutes rooted in high-intensity or plyometric drills. It’s the grand finale that gets your heart rate way the fuck up and is the cherry on top of your workout to push you to failure and fatigue.

Cool Down

Again, I used to be one of “those” who thought my walk home from the gym counted as my cool-down. Wrong again! A cool down should be a combination of static and dynamic stretching coupled with myofascial release using foam rollers, lacrosse balls, yoga blocks, etc. Not necessary to use equipment, but it sure helps!

How to Build Your Own Strength Building Workout

Put pen to paper and write your workout. The below is how I execute the above and is one of my favorite leg day sets.

Warm-Up: 15 minutes on the Stepmill using a pre-set fat burning program on level 10 or 11

Accessory Set 1:

  • Hamstring Curl, three sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds of rest between each set
  • Quad Extension, three sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds of rest between each set

Main Set:

  • Super Set, four sets of 12 reps, 60 seconds of rest between each set
    • Romanian Deadlifts with barbell
    • Front Squats on a Smith Machine
  • Additional Set: three sets of 10 reps, 60 seconds of rest between each set
    • Bulgarian Split Squats with dumbbells and bench

Accessory Set 2:

  • Super Set: three sets of 20 reps, 30 seconds of rest between each set
    • High volume, low weight front squat with a barbell
    • Squat holds, bodyweight only, 30-seconds


  • Tabata Squat Jumps, bodyweight, eight sets, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest

Cool Down: 10-minutes of glute, quad, IT band, and hamstring foam rolling.



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