When I first got into bodybuilding I developed a program that was intended to carry me through my first year to establish a "year one baseline". It has ended up being a permanent fixture in my training, as well as the foundation for all of my clients` programs as well.
It is based on 4 13 week "phases". 12 weeks of training,1 week of recover/recoup/whatever you`ll call it (I like to call it CNS deprogramming LOL). For the very new trainee, the first two weeks is reserved for anatomical adaptation training. I`ll illustrate the program for the experienced trainer:
weeks 1 - 4: Setting baselines, establishing your foundation. Basic, compound lifts to build a strength base and strengthen joints, and to build a frame of skeletal muscle stimulation. Heavier lifts, fewer reps (6 to 8, generally), more rest between sets. This is also where anatomical issues like biomechanics and injuries will identify themselves.
Weeks 5 - 8: Evaluate your goals, refine the program. Focus on lagging lifts or bodyparts. Start to see your body as a whole, develop your eye for personal symmetry. Less barbell work, more specific lifts, slightly higher rep range (8 to 12).
Weeks 9 - 12: Specific effort to attain a specific end result. (very personal. Can be anything from crazy oblique striations to better bicep peak or even that last inch from the waist or those last few pounds you were shooting for). CLEARLY identify your goal. Make any necessary changes to the program to get you there, maintain what has proven effective over the previous 8 weeks.
Week 13: reevaluate. Did you hit your goals? Why or why not? Use this week to applaud yourself for the effort and to gear up for the next round.
Training frequency will stay the same same throughout. I prefer a schedule that gets each muscle group three times in two weeks. (My legs are freakishly responsive so I`m lucky if I train them 2 or three times a month, but that`s another discussion). I do encourage a split routine to keep the intensity very high and time in the gym to an hour or so on the training itself. Cardio can tack on a few more minutes. My personal split is chest/biceps/triceps, shoulders/back, legs. When I`m in full force, my routine is this : Monday CBT, Weds SB, Friday CBT,Sunday Legs, Monday 2 SB, Weds 2 CBT, Friday 2 SB. That gives a full day between upper body workouts, and three days recovery before repeating the bodypart. I do abs just about every workout. I will usually superset them in with my last exercise of the day. I`ve discovered an ab exercise that works very, very well so I don`t have to go crazy with the sets and reps. 4 sets of 10 - 12 is all it takes.
Obviously there will be tweaks to the program if someone`s personal goals are extreme. For instance, I`d have someone stay on phase 1 for 6 to 8 weeks if their goal was to add a significant amount of muscle in the shortest time, or if they wanted to drop an extreme amount of bodyfat I`d spend more time on phase two. With that said, I have found that this program delivers the most satisfying and motivating results. If you`re 20 pounds over weight and your goal is to "get shredded", you`ll get discouraged blasting straight toward that goal with no checkpoints along the way. Following the phased program you`ll get more visible results quicker, and stay motivated. And for the person wanting that beach body and gain 25 pounds of muscle, they`ll find that adding a little bit of muscle, then chiseling it down to a rock solid, lean body will be far closer to what they actually wanted to look like and won`t waste 6 months trying to "get huge".
There is obviously a LOT more to it than what`s written here. once it goes from being *A* program to being *your* program, it`ll be personalized to you as an individual.