Time and commitments are important and more often than not, commitments dictate the weekly plan in the gym. If I only have 3 evenings free, they are the times I’m training. A lot of people have out of work commitments with local clubs, community work, children who have hobbies and families to look after. From day one, you need to pick your days and make training a priority before you even step foot in a gym. Don’t have time? Make time. Then, the next step depends on how long you can give to the gym, 30/45/60 minutes? If it is less, stick to the compound lifts that give you more bang for your book. If you have time, add in some accessories and other lifts.
Accessibility is important now. What gyms are close to home/work. Know the opening times, the equipment and the environment. Does it have everything you need and does it feel like somewhere you would love to train? Again, this is something we don’t think about but should consider as your happiness and environment are important when you’re training.
Stress is important as our Central Nervous System (CNS) doesn’t know the difference between physical stress and financial stress for example. Stress is simply stress. This is how you gauge your volume and intensity. If you have a highly stressful job (surgeon) and a stressful house (6 children), don’t go too hard on yourself, less may be more for you. If you are someone who may be in the same position, but not stressed at all, you may be able to increase intensity as your CNS can cope.
Your preferred method of training is very important, as you want to do something you will sustain forever, and adherence is much easier when you enjoy what you’re doing. Pick a method you will stick at as fitness is a journey everyone should begin, but nobody should finish.
Now that all of that is under control, the important aspect of training, what are your goals? Specific goals need specific plans. Make sure you are keeping the goal in mind when you are selecting exercises and creating your program. You want a big bum? Better have some glute bridges/hip thrusters/squat variations and singing movements. Want a big chest? Better challenge it through flat bench, incline and chest flies etc. If you’re training for a specific sport, make sure your strength sessions are adding to that and not taking away from your performance.
This is a lot to take into account, if you do not want the hassle of organising these things, I would advise finding a gym environment you love, talk to the trainers there and let them take care of the rest, the methods, times that suit you, programs tailored to your life and watch your life dramatically improve.