Personal trainers and fitness coaches are fab–they tell you what to do, motivate you, and keep you on track. So what happens when you’re left to create your own workout plan and be in charge of your own fitness?
No sweat! You’ve got this. Writing a workout plan takes time and lots of thoughtful planning, but it’s totally doable. And with the right mindset and motivation–you’re going to crush it! Let’s get started.
1. Decide your goal
Your fitness plan will depend completely on what your goal(s) is. A few examples are:
It’s important to keep in mind that some goals are difficult to pair together. For instance, if your main goal is to get super strong but you also want to be a killer marathon runner, you might struggle with attacking those at the same time. Why? Because they’re on different ares of the fitness spectrum and it’s hard to be two places at once.
Start with one main goal and see how that evolves–you can always try something new down the road!
Once you decide exactly what you want out of a workout plan, you can move on to the fun part: creating it!
2. Create a schedule
There’s more to life than working out and running hundreds of miles per month. Which is why it’s important to create a schedule you know you’ll have the time and energy to stick to.
However, to achieve your goals, you’re going to need to put some time into your health. If you’re unsure how much time is realistic, start with the Health and Human Services Activity Guidelines.
From there, map out (preferably on paper or in your favorite device) when and how often you’ll be exercising. Of course, this is highly dependent on your goals.
3. Be intentional
Intentionality is key to reaching your goals. If you want to lean out and lose fat, you’re going to need to train differently than if you want to halve your mile time.
If your goal is to build strength, you’ll almost certainly be lifting weights. There are tons of effective “splits” you could implement: lifting 2x per week, lifting 5x per week, splitting the body by muscle group, splitting workout by push/pull, etc. Do some digging, talk to a professional, and pick one that makes sense for you.
A few of my favorite strength workouts:
If your main goal is fat loss, you’ll probably be doing a mix of different activities: HIIT, weight training, steady state cardio, etc. Figure out how much of each you’d like to do on which days and solidify it in your calendar.
I’m a major fan of HIIT for fat loss phases, and here are a few fabulous workouts:
Throw a couple of these into your week and I promise you’ll see results.
If your focus is increasing cardio endurance, you’ll obviously be doing cardio. The fun thing about cardio is that there are endless ways to do it:
- The obvious: running, elliptical, biking, stair stepping
- The not so obvious: dancing, hiking, mountain climbing, trampoline
If your goal is to run a marathon, you’ll probably want to focus on running. If you’d like to bike across the nation, you’ll need to spend lots of time on a bike. These seem obvious–but you’d be surprised how many people don’t train in the sport/activity they’d like to improve at.
4. Write it out
Going to the gym without a plan leads to walking around aimlessly, scrolling through social media, and ultimately having a really terrible workout.
Prevent that by writing out your workouts ahead of time whether that’s on paper or in your phone. Trust me on this one–WRITE IT OUT. I’ve found that writing out a full week or 2 of workouts works best for me. This way, I can make a plan that fits together nicely and I’m able to look forward to.
PS: picking a random Instagram video/YouTube video to follow each day doesn’t count.
5. Don’t forget to mix and match
Health and fitness are balancing acts. Even if your main goal has nothing to do with cardio, you should still implement some cardio into your workout plan. Why? Because a healthy heart is a key part of a healthy body!
Same goes for weight lifting, flexibility training (yoga, stretching, etc.), functional training, etc. It’s always good to have a mixture of activities while being intentional about your focus.
6. Nutrition is KEY
You could create the ultimate workout plan, but if your diet is absolute trash, your results will be less than remarkable.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s really quite simple.
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat a variety of foods
- Don’t forget your fruits & veggies
- Treat yourself but not all the time
- Eat foods you enjoy
- Eat enough (but not too much)
Shoot for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night. If you’re struggling catching the z’s, give these tips a try.
Put all 7 of these steps together and you’ll have yourself a personalized and effective workout plan in no time. My last pieces of advice are these:
- Seek professional guidance: don’t be afraid to talk to a trainer at your gym and ask questions! Or find professional guidance online–just make sure it’s reliable and backed by science.
- Find an accountability partner: find a friend who’s willing to keep you accountable and push you to exercise when you’re just not feeling like it.
- Don’t give up: results take time!!!! Track your progress and celebrate little wins, but whatever you do–don’t give up.