One of the most complex parts of working out is finding a routine you’ll want to stick to consistently. Here’s how to create a workout plan that will see you coming back for more, genuinely enjoying your time exercising and achieving your desired results.
Get Clear About Your Intentions
Why do you want to work out?
That may seem like a simple question on its face, but like many things in life (whether career, family, a new hobby, or working out), it’s important to get super clear about your ‘why’ before you start your journey.
By establishing your work out ‘why’ in the first instance, you will choose the best path for exercise success as you define it. And when you start on a suitable course for your individual goals, intentions and needs, you’re likely to stick with it.
Clear Intentions in Action
For example, if you intend to improve your mental health by moving more, a brisk walk outdoors and a yoga practice are wonderful places to start your workout journey.
Longtime runners who want to train their muscles better, improve cardio quickly, AND take a walk (or run) on the wild side might benefit from trail running.
If you want to lose weight while gaining lean muscle, consider a CrossFit workout or Vinyasa (Power) yoga.
Or if you want to work out to be more social, find a group activity in which you can meet new people or get family and friends involved.
Maybe you want a little bit of everything above, in which case you can rotate your workout plan to suit.
The final takeaway: whatever activity you choose, make sure it matches your intentions, and you enjoy it. When you find something fun, it won’t feel like a chore, meaning you are more likely to stick with it even when the going gets tough.
Set Achievable Goals
Let’s say you intend to gain muscle mass by weight lifting, and you adopt Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday as your bodybuilding icon. It’s easy to see the finished product and overlook the number of hours Arnie put in at the gym so that he could win Mr Olympia an impressive seven times.
The best in their chosen fields didn’t get there by accident. They took incremental steps on the way to achieving their ultimate goals. They were also aware of their existing fitness levels and limitations (such as previous injuries) so that they could continue with exercise for the long haul.
Achievable Goals in Action
Learn from these greats and break down your ultimate end goal/intention into incremental steps. Steadily increase the level of work out difficulty over time so that you are suitably challenged but not too overwhelmed to continue.
The Couch to 5K week by week running plan is a fantastic example of using incremental steps to work towards an exercise end goal that may seem unattainable at first glance. You can apply a similar weekly break down for any workout plan.
The final takeaways: set yourself up for success by getting specific about your work out plan. For example, consider when you are most likely to stick to your workout regime, e.g., the morning, afternoon, or evening.
Try an online workout planner template to help you visualise your plan. By writing down your incremental steps, you can stay consistent and accountable. Consistency is vital for results; results encourage you to keep going, meaning you will remain accountable.
Staying accountable and consistent doesn’t mean there isn’t room for flexibility. As you progress through the various milestones laid out in your workout plan, it may make sense to ramp up or ramp down your activity.
Don’t Scrimp on Warming up, Cooling Down and Rest Days.
Whatever the workout, we humans naturally want to see the fruits of our labour appear sooner rather than later. But in a rush to succeed, it’s essential not to forget warming up, cooling down and rest days.
Although they don’t seem ‘productive’, these three elements are crucial parts of any workout plan. By warming up, cooling down and taking rest days, you will avoid unnecessary injuries and be limber enough to attend your next workout session: ultimately helping you stay in the exercise game for the long haul.
Plus, having scheduled rest/recovery time between workouts will likely make you better at what you do. Take running as an example; resting helps your joints recover while your muscles strengthen and repair.
The final takeaway: Try doing gentle Yin yoga workouts on your rest days or quick yoga practices as part of a post-workout cooldown.