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Committing to a workout plan can feel like a massive undertaking.  You’ll need to find time in an already hectic schedule, and at first glance, it may not seem feasible. But taking time to consider your goals, find the right activities, and schedule your workouts could be just what you need to get the ball rolling. Use the steps below to help design a workout plan you’ll actually use (and maybe even learn to love!).

Steps to Design a Workout Plan You’ll Use

1. Outline your goals

One of the primary inputs for any workout plan is your goals. Some people want to lose weight, and others want to build muscle, while others simply want to make daily activities feel easier. Whatever your goals are, it’s imperative that you understand what success looks like before you begin to design a plan. Take 10 minutes to sit down and figure out the following:

  • What will a successful workout program look like to me? (I’ll lose 10 pounds, I’ll fit easily into my favorite dress, I’ll have the energy to play with my kids after work, I’ll be comfortable in a bikini for a girlfriend’s bachelorette next summer, etc.)
  • What’s a realistic timeframe for me to realize my goals? (I’m taking a trip in June and would like to drop 1-2 pounds a week leading up to the trip)
  • What might prevent me from being successful?  (I tend to work late into the evenings and have a hard time stopping, I don’t see myself as a morning person, the gym is far from my home, etc.)

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a better idea of what you’re looking to achieve, by when, and hurdles you may need to overcome to be successful.

2. Find activities you enjoy

One of the most critical pieces of creating a workout plan you’ll stick with is to pick activities that don’t make working out feel like a chore.  If you feel incredibly awkward dancing (that’s me!), Zumba probably isn’t a good choice. If the thought of running makes you exhausted, it’s best not to program a run 3 days per week.

Similarly, if your primary goal is weight loss, you’ll probably look to do cardio-focused workouts more days of the week. Whereas someone looking to build strength may limit cardio in favor of more intense muscle-building sessions.

There are so many activities out there that are enjoyable and can easily fit into an exercise plan.  Yoga (you’ll need a sturdy mat* if you plan to practice regularly), pilates, karate, hiking, swimming, jogging, lifting weights, high-intensity interval training, resistance bands (I love these*!), barre, sports, rebounding*, and the list goes on and on.  Experiment to find the activities that work for you.

Most specialty gyms are willing to do free trial classes so you can see if you enjoy a workout without committing to a month or more.  Make a list of the types of movement you enjoy doing, begin to try different classes, and see which ones light you up.

3. Be reasonable about your availability and create your schedule

Now that you know your goals and what types of workouts you want to do, it’s time to sit down and get real about your availability.  If you want to lose 30 pounds in 3 months, you’ll need to dedicate a bit more time than if you want to do basic weight training two days a week to feel stronger. Come up with an honest number of hours per week you can dedicate to working out. If it’s only two hours, that’s okay. At least you have a starting point and can plan the right workouts in those blocks of time.

Make sure if you’re working with a significant other or someone else on childcare while you’re working out that you communicate your intentions to them as well.  Support is everything when it comes to long-term fitness success!!

Like a doctor or dentist visit, your workouts are important, and they deserve a place on your calendar*. But if you say you can get to the gym by 6 am, when in reality you’ve never woken up before 7:30, it’s time to reassess.  Pull out time blocks that you feel confident you can make work each week despite the hurdles you outlined above.

Sit down one day a week and plan out your next few workouts.  I like to use weekends for planning but if Tuesday evenings are your free time, then, by all means, do whatever works. The output from this step should be a week’s worth of workouts on the calendar and any classes signed up for in advance (if you can). By taking the time to schedule activities that align with your fitness goals, you’re taking a small but necessary step in prioritizing your health.

The Main Thing About Designing a Workout Plan You’ll Use

The best workout plan (much like the best diet, the best sleep schedule, etc.) is the one that you’re actually going to use. Even the most well-written workout plan is just a piece of paper if you’re unwilling to put in the effort and time to make it a reality. If fitness is a priority of yours, you’ll find a way to incorporate your workout plan into your schedule. And I guarantee that it won’t be more than a few weeks before you’re wondering how you ever lived without it.

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