Going to the gym and working out can be an extremely rewarding experience and is a lifestyle shift that positively impacts almost every aspect of your life. You have more energy, you feel better about yourself, and you get to look better at the end. Often the hardest step in this process is mustering the motivation and desire to actually go to the gym and exercise. Equally as challenging, however, is maintaining this commitment and going to the gym regularly.
It can be easy to start off full of excitement and getting some good sessions in but once that initial period wears off a lot of people find themselves quitting. This is because they ran out of exercises to do or they don’t know how to properly scale and structure their workouts in order to see results and progression. They basically lack a plan!
Having a workout plan is crucial to your success at the gym and is the easiest way, other than hard work of course, to see results and stay consistent with your workouts. In this article we will explore the different ways in which you can plan and structure your own workouts so that you can get the best results in the gym!
Important aspects of a workout plan
When making a workout plan there are a few important aspects that you need to take into consideration. Considering these will allow you to create an effective tailor-made workout plan that will maximise your week and help you to get the best results possible when it comes to your workout goals.
Defining your goals
When it comes to working out and creating a workout plan, it is essential to have a clearly defined goal in mind. This will form the basis for all of your decisions moving forward and will influence the type, and frequency, of exercising that you do.
Whether you are trying to lose weight, build muscle, or are training for a 5k or a marathon, you need to clearly understand exactly what it is you are trying to achieve so that you can actively and efficiently pursue trying to achieve those goals.
Understanding your schedule
Once you are clear on what exactly it is you are trying to achieve, the next step is to analyse your schedule to determine the best way to incorporate exercising into your daily life (this includes both number of days and hours in the day).
It doesn’t matter if you have a full-time job, or kids, or other responsibilities that you have to attend to. There is always time that is available. Working out doesn’t mean devoting three hours a day, 4-5 times a week every week. If you only have 30 minutes per day or 1-2 days free per week that is perfectly fine. The idea is to maximise the time that you have and to use it to the best of your ability.
Preferred location of your workouts
Ok, so you know your goal and you’ve worked out the days and times that you have free. The next step is to determine where you will be training. This will differ depending on the goal that you have set for yourself and your initial fitness level when starting out and will influence the types of workouts that you are able to do.
This could mean training at a gym, doing running workouts at a track or in a park, or could simply mean exercising at home until you build up sufficient strength, or earn enough money, to go to the gym. Speaking about money, your financial capabilities will also be a determining factor in when and how you are able to train but this should never be an excuse or limiting factor in the pursuit of your goals. There is always an alternative method that you can use.
What exercises should you be doing
So far everything we have mentioned has been simple and easy to acquire information since it is info that you already had. The tricky part when forming a workout plan is knowing exactly what exercises you should be doing, how many sets and reps you should be doing, and how much rest time you should be taking.
As a beginner, or someone that is making a workout plan for the first time, it is essential to keep it simple so that you don’t become overwhelmed. The best workout plan is the one that you actually stick to and, by making your workout plan overly complicated, you are lowering the likelihood that you will actually stick to your plan. There are countless exercises and variations that you can do and trying to learn about all of them or trying to incorporate everything into your plan is nearly impossible and is counterproductive.
Instead, you should stick to the basics and build your workout plan around the fundamental exercises and movements. This means doing compound movements that will work multiple muscle groups at the same time and will allow you to build strength and muscle mass at the same time.
Within your workout plan for the weak you should have exercises that work the legs (mainly quads and hamstrings since those are the bigger muscles), chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and core. As you become stronger and more experienced you can begin to incorporate isolation exercises and employ more complicated movements and plans.
How many days per week should you train?
This is mainly determined by your experience level when it comes to exercising and the amount of time you have/are willing to devote to exercising per week. Over training is a real thing, however, so it is important to pace yourself and not do too much too quickly. This will lead to burn out, killing your gains and progress, and could potentially lead to you quitting.
Getting proper rest and nutrition is extremely important when working out and should be an integral part of your workout plan. As a result, you should aim to workout at least 2-3 days per week but never more than 6 times in one week. This will ensure that you are able to hit all of the essential muscle groups and exercises while still being able to get enough rest so that your muscles can grow and recover.
Tracking your progress
When working out, especially in the early stages, it is easy to lose track of what you have done and what you still need to do. This can be in the form of the workouts that you have done for the week and the ones you still have to complete or can refer to the progress you have made in the gym and what you need to do to achieve the goals you set out for yourself at the beginning of your journey.
As a result, it is important to track your workouts and your progress so that you are constantly aware of exactly what it is you are doing/need to do. You can do this by keeping a workout journal or by using fitness tracking apps to track the exercises you have done and the various sets and reps you completed. This will allow you to constantly be improving and will help to keep you focused and motivated on your goals.
It is also important to write down/take note of your workout plan every week. It is not enough to just think about what you plan to do for the week. It is easy to forget, especially if the workouts are difficult or you don’t want to do them. Having a visual reminder about your workouts for the week will better allow you to remember and complete them throughout the week. This will positively impact your consistency and will help you to see even more gains. You can do this by using physical workout calendars or by utilising fitness tracking apps that have a similar feature built into them.
Having a workout plan is an essential element to exercising successfully, being consistent, and achieving your fitness goals. There are some fundamental ideas that go into creating an effective workout plan and, once you are aware of them and implement them into the creation of your own workout plan, you will begin to see substantial progress and results with your exercising.