Getting Started with Planning your Workouts: The Basics

When it comes to getting fit or losing weight, having a workout program planned out with goals to achieve along the way, is the first step towards being successful. There are some basic steps you can take to come up with your own exercise program, to get you started with something that suits your needs.

Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to improve your overall fitness? Are you trying to tone or to build muscle? Having a clear understanding of what you’re aiming to do in the long-run will help to guide your plan and keep you motivated too.

Start by thinking about how often you will work out. If you’re new to exercise or getting back into it after an absence and are not feeling particularly fit, you may need to go easy to start with. Plan to do some light training on two to three days each week until you start getting used to physical exertion and recovery. Too much too soon could be overwhelming and put you off.

As your confidence grows and you start to enjoy moving more, you can start to increase the intensity of the workout and add an extra one or two workout days to your program. Try for three days each week, or maybe four if you’re feeling really energetic. If you do these early in the week, you’ll still have the weekend for bonus workouts, or to make up for any days you may have missed earlier in the week.

The duration you allow for a workout session will dictate the variety and kinds of exercise you can carry out. On days when you have less time, you may just pop into the gym for 20 minutes of cardio.  On days when you have more time, or to focus on improving endurance for example, you’ll need a longer session.

When thinking about the type of exercises you’ll perform in the gym, it always good to keep in mind your end goal.  Do you want to burn more body fat? Perhaps you want to build up a particular muscle? You can plan each session with these focal points in mind and make use of the equipment or classes that match the goals you have for yourself.

When just starting out with new workout program, one of the tools you have in your arsenal is to make use of your gyms’ group fitness classes or small group training schedule.  These are usually designed to offer everything you need across the workout spectrum; cardio, HIIT, strength and mobility.  Not only are these a godsend when you’re not sure what to do working out on your own, but they will teach you how to use a wide variety of equipment, build your confidence in just understanding exercise terminology and coach you to exercise safely under the supervision of a qualified instructor.

Build your program up bit by bit, using a variety of classes and small group training to incorporate a full body workout. On days when you have less time, you can usually be in and out of the gym in under an hour, and on days when you have a little more time you can top up your class-based workout with some cardio or stretching work afterwards.

After you’ve begun the actual workouts, you’ll have a better idea of which exercises work for you, and how long it all takes. You can then adjust your program every few weeks to match what you learn. With this knowledge, you can then set yourself longer-term goals – like increasing the number of reps or sets you do in a session, or running further in the same amount of time.  Remember to keep track of what you’re doing, and change things up when you notice you’re not progressing any more.  Your body will adapt quickly to exercise and variety will not only ensure you continue to see results, but you’ll stay motivated and enjoy your workout that much more!

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