How to Structure a Weight Loss Program:

Fitness, Health & Wellness, Nutrition, Training, Weight lifting, Workout Program -

How to Structure a Weight Loss Program:

            A common question that arises within the fitness industry is “how do I lose weight?” This inquiry is a closed ended question because a sure-fire way for an individual to lose weight does not exist. Trial and error must be utilized in order to discover the best way to lose weight for each individual. In this article, I will outline what methods have worked best for both me and my clients. The majority of people give up on a certain method of weight loss when they do not see “immediate results,” an expected outcome that simply will not happen. If an eager individual truly wants to see real results and make a change in their life, patience and consistency must be evident qualities. Many individuals fall into the trap of short-term transformation bs that floats around the internet, don’t be one of those people. The first few weeks of a weight loss program appear difficult, but once a routine has been developed the entire process becomes easier. The key to a weight loss program being successful lies within the individual’s consistency and patience, so trust the process.


            The most important variable regarding losing weight is nutrition. Nutrition accounts for 80-85% of the importance within the weight loss process, one simply cannot outwork a poor diet. In order to optimize a weight loss program, an individual needs to dial in their nutrition and keep the specific diet in check during the entire duration of the program. Portion size monitorization should also arise as a key component; this variable alone will make a huge difference. Focus on eating fruits and vegetables to ensure the body receives adequate amounts of micronutrients. In addition, maintaining a high protein intake each day pays dividends while dieting. High protein intake slows muscle atrophy that occurs while in a negative energy balance and helps curb appetite when dieting. The body must maintain a negative energy balance for an extended period to experience actual weight loss. A negative energy balance simply means the body will exert more energy per day than consumed. A caloric deficit becomes crucial when wanting to maintain a negative energy balance, which means the amount of calories taken in each day equates to a number below the total calories burned on a daily basis or total daily energy expenditure. Each individual will have a different TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) determined by one’s current weight and activity level. My blog post “Tracking and Calculating Macronutrients” outlines how an individual can find their TDEE and how to calculate an appropriate caloric deficit.


            The training portion of the program, although less important than nutrition, remains a key component. Training accounts for 10-15% importance in the weight loss process. When in a negative energy balance, the body and muscle group trained do not receive the amount of nutrients and energy they need to recover properly thus proper nutrition is vital. In order to avoid muscle degradation, one should incorporate about 3-4 training sessions per week. These training sessions will consist of higher volume and lighter loads to ensure the body does not become overworked. One can maximize a caloric deficit by incorporating cardio sessions into their training protocol. Incorporating cardio sessions allows the individual to maintain a negative energy balance and speeds up the weight loss process. Implementation of two different forms of cardio, steady state (low intensity) or high intensity interval training, exist as choices for an individual. If performing low intensity steady state cardio, the duration of each bout needs to extend longer than that of a high intensity interval training session. Both forms of cardio have their own benefits, so choosing which one will depend on personal preference. Like weight training, one should perform cardio 3-4 times a week.


Example Training Protocol:


Push Day:           

            Dumbbell Bench Press: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Dumbbell Incline Press: x 12, 10, 10

            Push-Ups: 4 sets to failure

            Dumbbell Military Press: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Dumbbell Lateral Raise: x 15, 12, 12

            Straight Bar Cable Pushdown: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Cable Kickbacks: 3 x 12


Pull Day:           

            Seated Cable Row: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Smith Machine Upright Row: x 12, 10, 10

            Wide-Grip Pull-Ups (assisted if needed): 3 x 8-12

            Cable Face Pull: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Alternating Dumbbell Curl: 3 x 12 (each arm)

            Machine Preacher Curl: x 15, 12, 12


Leg Day:

            Barbell Back Squat: x 12, 12, 10, 10

            Leg Press: x 12, 12, 10, 10

            Single Leg Split Squat: 3 x 8 (each leg)

            Dumbbell Walking Lunges: 3 x 8 (each leg)

            Quad Extension: 3 x 15

            Hamstring Curl: 3 x 15


Upper Body Day 2: (optional)           

            Straight Bar Curl: x 15, 15, 12, 12

            Alternating Hammer Curl: x 12, 12, 10 (each arm)

            Close-Grip Bench Press: x 15, 15, 12, 12

            Cable Rope Pulldown: x 12, 12, 10

            Push-Ups: 4 sets to failure

            Wide-Grip Pull-Ups: 4 sets to failure


Leg Day 2: (optional)

            Barbell Front Squat: x 12, 12, 10, 10

            Narrow-Foot Leg Press: x 15, 12, 12, 10

            Dumbbell Goblet Squat: 3 x 10

            Hip Abductor Machine: 3 x 15

            Quad Extension: x 15, 12, 12

            Hamstring Curl: x 15, 12, 12



Example Cardio Protocol:

Steady State (low intensity):

            Incline Treadmill: 3-4 x per week, 25-30 minutes, incline 4-6, speed  3.5-4.5mph

            Stairmaster: 3-4 x per week, 20-25 minutes, level 7-9


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): 3-4 x per week

            Jump Rope: 8 x 30 seconds

            Med Ball Slams: 8 x 12

            Kettle Bell Swings: 8 x 12

            Box Jumps: 8 x 8

            Burpees: 8 x 5

            Jump Squats: 8 x 10


            I hope this article provides insight regarding the concept of structuring a weight loss program. Develop a routine and remain patient, the results will come with time. Understanding the importance of each variable that plays a role in a weight loss program allows the individual to optimize their results. Combining the various principles stated in the article will take one’s fitness to the next level and provide real results. Achieving a personal fitness goal starts with a properly structured training and diet program. Give these sample workouts a shot and let me know what you think!