A great personal trainer can be invaluable: Plenty of us wouldn't get to the gym without a guy there rooting for us, and we often depend on trainers to demonstrate good exercise form. The reality for most men, though, is that they can't justify the expense or commit to showing up at a certain time and place several times a week. But that doesn't mean you can't get the same kind of workout: It's easier than you might think to build your own professional training program. Although the lifting and running that a trainer puts you through may seem like a mysterious science, it's not. In fact, most trainers stick to simple formulas to help you build strength and endurance. We tapped some of the best trainers in the country and researched the best fitness books you should have on your shelf to uncover the secrets to getting a proper workout – all by yourself.
Keep a careful schedule.
One foundation of any program a trainer sets up for you is based on the idea that fitness gains come in response to stress: You stress the body, you rest while it adapts, and then you stress it again. But there's a fine line between just enough stress and too much, beyond which lies the clinical condition known as overtraining, characterized by declining strength. When it's time for the next step, use the so-called Texas Method that's used by many trainers, with a high-volume Monday, a light Wednesday, and a try for a new personal record (PR) every Friday. You can find other options in 'Power Training,' by Robert dos Remedios. You'll be tempted to do other exercises, too, but you'll see the most strength gains if you stick to the formula.
Credit: Getty Images