Deciding you want to start working out and get in shape is the easy part. Planning effective workouts and tracking your progress is a lot harder. Creating your own workout planner is a strategy that will help you stay invested in your goals.
Where to Begin?
Your workout planner can be as simple as a checklist, or it can contain more detailed information. Whether you use a paper notebook, your smartphone, or your computer, you need to set it up in a way that will work for you, so you’ll actually use it. Begin by including these categories:
- Warm up. Every workout should begin with five or ten minutes of exercise to get your muscles warm and blood flowing. It can be anything from the treadmill and rowing machine, to jumping jacks or jogging laps.
- Target large muscle groups. Choose one exercise for each area: quads, hamstrings, butt, core, push, and pull, and plan 3-5 sets of each exercise.
- Plan your timing. Decide how many reps and how long you’ll rest in between ahead of time. Keep your workout to under one hour.
- Stretch. Plan to cool down and stretch at the end.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before you fill in the categories in your workout planner, ask yourself some questions so you have a realistic starting point:
- Are you already working out, or are you a true beginner?
- Do you have any injuries or medical issues you should address before starting a workout plan?
- How much time can you set aside for working out?
- Where do you want to work out? At home? At a gym? Outside?
- What are your goals? Take note of your starting weight, measurements, and beginning weights for strength training.
Fill in the Blanks
Now, it’s time to fill in the structure you created in your planner. You can add some dates or days of the week, with the goal of doing a full body workout every other day, or at least two or three times a week. We’re going to keep it really simple by choosing five exercises, one for each large muscle group in your planner. Here are some examples, and you can find many more on fitness websites:
- Quads (front of your legs) – lunges, squats, one-legged squats, box jumps
- Hamstrings and Butt (back of your legs) – hip raises, step ups, deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, good mornings
- Core (abs and lower back) – planks, side planks, mountain climbers, exercise ball crunches
- Push (chest, shoulders and triceps) – bench press, overhead press, push ups, dips
- Pull (back, biceps, and forearms) – chin ups, pull ups, bodyweight rows
Don’t Get Bored
Keep things fresh by mixing up the exercises, the order, and adding something for variety each time. Try a fitness app for real-time tracking of your exercising, food intake, and sleep. But most importantly, keep track of how you’re doing in your planner. The ultimate motivation is to see progress and improvement.