DFP Exercise Plan Details
My exercise plan is based on the following ideas, principles, and beliefs:
- Traditional bodybuilding principles allow us to build muscle, lose fat, and get a nicely shaped body better than anything else.
- Compound exercises (ones that use multiple muscle groups) are the foundation of a good workout plan.
- Isolation exercises are useful, but used sparingly and only to compliment the core exercises.
- Exercises that require you to use stabilizer muscles are very important, meaning free weight type exercises are better than machines.
- Frequent, intense, short workouts are better than long ones that require many days of recuperation.
- Incorporating different and new sports and activities into your life can be as important as working out.
- Variety is essential to keep your body guessing and progressing, not to mention keeping you from getting bored. Your body will adapt to the same exercise done over and over, and will stop making gains.
- Form is also critical! Never swing the weight in an uncontrolled manner, you risk injury and you will not get the results you would with good form. See the exercise demos for information on proper form.
So in other words my gym-type workouts will be full of various compound exercises that often require you to stabilize yourself. You will move quickly through the workouts to keep your heart rate up. Other non-gym workouts will call for you to play a sport you like, learn a new sport, go on a hike, or the like.
Basic Workout Format
Workout days will be primarily structured as follows:
- 2 days on (mix of weight/stability/cardio training), 1 day off
- ‘Off’ days are not necessarily days of complete rest, because my approach to fitness is to keep moving and active. This continued activity not only helps you achieve a higher fitness level, but will also help alleviate some of the soreness in your muscles from the weight training. On off days I will recommend various activities, but you’re free to choose one that suits you. Either way, don’t just sit around like a bump on a log!
Most daily workouts will progress as follows:
- 5 minute warm up (walk, bike, treadmill, skip rope, anything similar on easy setting)
- 30 minutes or so of hard exercise (usually some combination of weights, balance exercises, or cardiovascular exercise)
- 5-10 minutes of cool down (same as warm up) and stretching.
The Equipment You’ll Need
If you belong to a gym you’ll likely have access to 90% of what you need, or at least reasonable substitutions. If not, there are non-equipment substitutions that can be made, but you will be somewhat limited. If you want to start stocking your home gym, please visit my exercise equipment page for recommendations.
How to Read the Abbreviations in the DFP
My abbreviations are actually more simple than they look. Here’s the format of a single exercise:
Exercise Name – Sets(Reps)
And the format for super sets and drop sets (described below):
Exercise 1 Name / Exercise 2 Name – Sets (Exercise 1 Reps)(Exercise 2 Reps)
An example for pull ups would then look like this:
Pull Ups – 3(10)
That would mean do 3 sets of 10 reps each of pull ups resting about 30-60 seconds between sets (the standard rest unless stated otherwise). If I wanted you to do as many reps as you could until failure (meaning you can’t do any more), then the sets number would be replaced with an pound symbol, like so:
Pull Ups – 3(#)
Sometimes I’ll want you to do a superset, which is one exercise followed immediately by another with no rest between them. In that case the exercises are separated by a backslash and there are two reps numbers in parenthesis, which correspond to the exercises. That looks like this:
Push Ups \ Pull Ups – 3(10)(12)
In this case you would do a set 10 push ups followed right away by a set of 12 pull ups. Then you rest 30-60 seconds before starting it all over again. This is repeated 2 more times to do a total of 3 super sets.
Finally, I might ask you to do a drop set, which means performing an exercise to failure at one weight, then dropping down to a lower weight in order to squeeze in a few more reps. That looks just like the example above, only this time the exercise is repeated on both sides of the backslash, as such:
Dumbbell Flyes / Dumbbell Flyes – 4(10)(5)
In this case you would be doing a set of 10 dumbbell flyes, at which point you’d be tired but press on anyhow by choosing a lower weight and then doing another 5 reps at that lower weight.
Cardiovascular exercises are simple, just the name followed by the time or distance:
Exercise Name – (Time or Distance)
Run – (20 minutes)
What Weight to Use With the Exercises
The reason I don’t give weights in the DFP workouts is because of the variations in fitness levels and strength between individuals The same weight will never work for everyone, even for people of the same bodyweight.
Instead, I simply give you this instruction: choose a weight that will allow you to do the number of reps called for, so that on the last rep your muscles are at or near exhaustion. Without forcing your muscles to work near their capacity, they would have no reason to adapt and grow. This takes a bit of trial and error on your part, but you’ll figure it out quickly enough.
As your fitness level increases you will gradually increase the weights you select, to encourage your muscles to continue to get stronger. This is known as the principle of progressive overload.
Keep a Training Log!
Finally, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to keep a training log. This simply allows you to monitor what exercises you’ve done and what weights you’ve used. That way the next time you go to do an exercise you have an idea of what weight to use, and you also have a way to keep progressively overloading your muscles.
For example, you might add 5 pounds of weight each time you do the bench press. After 10 bench press workouts you’ll have increased by a total of 50 pounds. While this example might be a bit extreme, it highlights for you how little increases add up over time, and the only way you can track when and how much to increase is by having a written log. Unless you have a photographic memory.
With that said, here’s a free training log [PDF Format] for you to download and print out.