The 5 Crucial Steps to Creating A *Customized* Bodybuilding Program

Published about 2 months ago • 3 min read

Welcome to 3DMJ Thursdays 💪

Every other week we’ll now send out long-form, practical tips and strategies for bodybuilders, powerlifters, and serious lifters of all types.

Today we’re going to discuss a more intelligent way to create a tailored training program for yourself.

Most early-stage lifters think that finding a training split or buying a ready-made program is the fastest route to the body they want.

That might work just fine for your very first few months, but once the newbie gains have passed, you’ll quickly see where this falls short.

Here are some common pitfalls athletes often experience on a non-customized, cookie-cutter program:

  • The number of days or time spent in the gym doesn’t fit with their schedule
  • The amount of volume is too much to recover from
  • The amount of volume is too little to progress with
  • The even spread of volume doesn’t align with the athlete’s particular goals or physique weaknesses

So in this newsletter, we’re going to offer a better way to set yourself up by teaching you Inside Out Programming.

What is “Inside Out Programming”?

Rather than starting with pre-assigned “body part” days and blindly filling them up with work that might be useless for your goal physique, you’re going to consciously create your purposeful workload first.

You intentionally select the “insides” (volume per body part) and then you construct the outer container (the split or microcycle).

Let’s get into it.


Do you want to bring up your arms to fill out your shirts?

Are you looking for larger glutes and hams for an upcoming competitive bodybuilding season?

It’s pretty rare that anyone other than a complete beginner should train with completely symmetrical volume for every muscle group or movement pattern..

So deciding which body parts get priority volume is an absolute must.


As you’ve probably heard us mention in our YouTube videos or 3DMJ Podcast episodes, we generally recommend doing 10 to 20 working sets per body part per week.

It’s generally best to start on the lower end of that range and stay there as long as you can until your body’s feedback tells you otherwise.

But to make a customized program, you might want to keep your priority muscle groups a bit higher on that scale while dropping some sets for the less-needy parts of your body.

For example, if you have huge legs and a smaller chest, nothing is wrong with assigning 8 to 10 sets for quads and going up to 14-16 sets for pecs.


Once you know how many sets you’d like to execute per week or microcycle, you need to create the training structure.

Do you only have an hour per day 4 times a week? Or 2 hours in the gym 3 times a week?

Like volume, you want to stay conservative here.

If you know you can *always* get 3 sessions in but *sometimes* you can squeeze in 4 sessions…plan for 3 to ensure consistency.


Take your number of weekly sets and spread it out in a way that makes sense across your allotted training days.

Does it all fit nicely into a split without creating marathon training sessions?

Or does it now seem obvious that you need to trim some sets?

And if you *do* need to drop some sets, you’ll have to decide what makes sense for you and your physique priorities.

As much as we’d all love to train as long as it takes to get the work we *want* to fit into that program, that often negatively affects the long game.

So make sure that all work is quality work, even if the program looks “too easy” on paper.


Now that you know how much work you’re doing per day, keep moving things around until you know your priority body parts and exercises are getting the best of you.

If you are aiming for more chest hypertrophy, maybe have 2 of your 4 training sessions start with 3 chest exercises each.

If your calves are the only part of your lower body that lag, maybe you could start 1 or 2 of your lower-dominant sessions with calf work.

It’s not common, but our coaches have seen how effective programs can be when set up intentionally rather than conventionally.


Once you break free from the old school idea of traditional body part splits, you’ll start to see how much easier it is to create a tailored approach for your physique and your goals.

Just be aware of your training principles as you start shuffling volume around.

Do your part to learn about the relationships between volume, frequency, and intensity so that you can continue tweaking your new program according to your results and your body’s feedback.

Every program takes some modification until you hit a sweet spot.


Coach Alberto Nuñez made a fantastic video explaining this "Inside Out Programming" approach that you can watch here:

video preview

If you prefer very detailed, self-paced video courses (including example programs), check out Bodybuilding Program Design.

And lastly, if you’d like to work with a coach who will create a customized training program for you, check out
our 3DMJ Coaching info page.

Thanks for joining us for this first ever 3DMJ Thursday!

We look forward to sending you the next one in just a couple of weeks.

With gains and gratitude,

- Team 3DMJ


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