4 Tips For Creating An Effective Workout Plan
You walk into the gym, take a look around, and realize you have no idea what you want to do. Sound familiar? We’ve all been in this situation before, and usually it ends with performing the same, ineffectual exercises over and over. This is the moment when a workout plan would be helpful. Creating your own workout plan isn’t difficult by any means, but by following the steps outlined below, your plan will help you get the most out of every workout.
1. Evaluate your goals.
Do you want to lose weight or build muscle or both? Are you preparing for a marathon? Think about what you are currently doing and how you can improve. Identifying clear goals will keep you motivated and help you determine which type of workout will be the most beneficial for you. A good idea is to establish your long-term goals and break them down into more achievable short-term goals. Think of it like a checklist – every time you check a smaller goal off your list, you are one step closer to reaching your long-term goal. One way to do this is to follow the SMART method of setting goals.
SMART goals are:
- SPECIFIC: set a specific goal that is clear and easy to understand.
- MEASURABLE: measure your progress by adding an actual number to your goal (20 minutes, 5 pounds, etc.…).
- ATTAINABLE: understand your limits. Don’t set a goal that is too extreme or too easy.
- RELEVANT: make your goal relevant to your current situation – it will be so much more motivating.
- TIME: give yourself a deadline to reach your goals.
2. Set a schedule and stick to it.
When it comes to scheduling your workouts, consistency is key! If you are going to see any results, you need to workout consistently over a period of time. A good starting point is to plan on working out a couple days a week, working your way up to five days then giving yourself two resting days per week; however, it varies from person to person as well as the level of intensity of your workouts.
We all know that finding time to exercise during the day can be challenging. Make it easier on yourself by scheduling a specific time to workout every day and stick to it like you would any other appointment. Additionally, write your workout schedule down on a piece of paper or track it on your phone. Keeping track is a great tool to help you stay motivated, especially when working out is the last thing you want to do.
3. Include a variety of workouts.
It’s important to create a balanced routine that includes variety. Doing the same thing each day is a great way to get burned out and can even cause injuries over time. Instead, alternate among different activities that emphasize different parts of your body. These activities can include cardio, weight training, and lower impact exercises such as biking or swimming. Choose a specific activity for every day, along with the appropriate variation in reps and time, that will help you avoid injury while reinforcing your strengths and addressing your weaknesses. Most importantly, include time in your plan for recovery. Allow your body to rest and recover to help you become the best you can be.
4. Incorporate a healthy diet.
You can have a perfect workout plan, but if you don’t eat right, it will never be as effective as it could be. Not including proper nutrition in your plan could leave you feeling sluggish, lightheaded, and unable to complete your workout as planned. Be sure to include a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables in your daily diet.
It’s also important to eat when your workout session is over, incorporating protein to help feed the muscles you just worked. The general guideline is to eat within 2 hours of exercising. Doing this will help your muscles recover and prepare for what’s coming next.
Remember, when it comes to eating and exercise, everyone is different. Be sure to tailor your workout plan to your exact needs.
Author: Aubree Thomas , Utah State University