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How to Create a Workout Plan

Of course, we all would love to be able to afford a personal trainer to put together our fitness routine or plan our workout week, but they can be pricey. On the other hand, millions of people all around the world exercise and get in shape without the benefit of professional help. It is possible and even empowering to create your own workout plan, especially if your aspirations are for personal health and fitness. Here are some tips to help you do it.

Define your fitness goals. Do you want to lose weight, become more muscular, win a race or lose fat? If you see a personal trainer, they will ask you this same question. That’s because knowing what your fitness goals are will help create a workout plan that helps you reach them. For example, weight loss may be best done using whole-body strength training days alternated with cardio days. But increasing muscle mass may best be accomplished with a routine that is focused on a muscle group, twice a week and then a different muscle group on other days of the week. If your goal is overall fitness or to feel more energetic and happier, a workout dance class might be more suitable. Think about your goals, and this will help you decide what type of routine you’d like to incorporate.

Write out your current, weekly schedule before you create your workout plan. This includes your work schedule, commute to work, shopping and any other chores you do on a weekly basis. Use this to decide what days you can fit in a workout. This works because successful workouts happen when a trick called implementation intentions is used. To do this, simply write out a goal such as, “Beginning tomorrow, I will be at the gym and take the 9 am fitness class.” In business, it is called implementation planning, and many studies back the use of writing goals in this manner because it helps people follow through with them. Keep your schedule where you can see it, so you remember your goals. And don’t forget to include a rest day in your week.

Plan your rest day. This is the day you allow your muscles to recover from your more intense workouts, but that doesn’t mean staying in bed. Recovery is more fun when you do something you enjoy. It could be a leisurely bike ride or a hike on a local trail. Some people prefer a low-level dance class or low-intensity yoga class. No matter what you choose, strive to move your body that utilizes a wide range of motion. If you go for a bike ride, remember to stretch. Activities like this keep your metabolism up and helps your muscles recover and get ready for your next, more intense workout.

Include exercises that train your muscles from different angles. This can apply to any sport, as many sports tend to use the same muscles. But always strive for balance. For example, if you are strength training and working on your legs, some exercises, like squats, use all the leg muscles while some machines might focus on only the front or back of the thighs. Using exercises that incorporate all angles of a muscle assures they are aesthetically balanced and stronger, leaving less chance for an injury.

Mix it up. This is important, especially for those who run, power walk or bike for their exercise. If you simply choose to run and increase your intensity by increasing distance, time or speed, you continue to use the same muscles and will become more prone to injury. Instead, follow each intense workout day with an active recovery day. If you are a runner, you might run uphill for an intense day, then a long walk the next. Another intense training day might include sprints, followed by an active recovery day of yoga or stretching. And don’t forget strength training, this helps balance muscles and strengthens them along with the ligaments, and your body will become strong enough to tolerate any sport much better.

Update your workout plan regularly. It is best to avoid too many workouts that target the same muscles over and over. This can result in burnout and injury and sabotage the best of fitness goals. If you are training for a marathon or other sport, change your location so you don’t get mental burnout. Try to update your plan once every month or two by using different strength training exercises, different activities for rest days, or find ways to change up your endurance exercise.

Workout Planning Week

Planning is the key to success, especially when it comes to health and fitness. For most people, planning your workout a week at a time, then following that routine for anywhere from four to eight weeks is ideal to see progress and not hit a plateau. The following is just one example of a typical workout plan for success.

· Monday: Strength training for the lower body

· Tuesday: Strength training for the upper body

· Wednesday: Light cardio such as biking or fast walking

· Thursday: Interval running; run or jog for two to three minutes then slow walk/rest for 30 seconds. Do this a total of 10-30 minutes

· Friday: Recovery day; walk, leisurely bike ride, do yoga or stretch for 30 to 60 minutes

· Saturday: Full body strength training

· Sunday: Rest (you can also do a “recovery day” if you keep your workout very light)

Of course, this is just a sample. You can create your own successful workout that suits your needs. The key is to write out your workout plan for the week, post it where you can see it, and keep track. Many people keep journals of their workouts along with what they eat and how they feel to help them learn what works and what doesn’t. You will enjoy greater success when you see what is right for you.

Don’t let the lack of a personal trainer be the obstacle to your successful workouts. Create your own routine and allow yourself to have fun. When you take charge and plan your workouts, you plan your success, and nothing can stop you.

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