Whether you’ve been working out for years or are just getting started on your fitness journey – you always need a plan. A workout plan doesn’t just show you what to do next, it also helps you see how far you’ve come and when you need to take a break. By providing structure, a plan helps you stay motivated and consistent. It can be a vital tool to help you succeed in your fitness goals.
Things to Consider While Creating Your Workout Plan
To make one, you’ll have to consider your fitness goals, skill level, availability, physical or medical limitations (if any) and then narrow down the types of exercises to include in your plan. Here’s a breakdown of some of the primary aspects to consider before you make a balanced workout plan.
One of the most important things to consider while creating your plan is what you want to achieve. It can be any of the following:
- If the goal is to build muscle - focus mostly on resistance training and add in one day of cardio or HIIT training to increase your cardiovascular endurance.
- When the goal is to lose fat/ weight, often the immediate approach taken is to perform a lot of cardio based workouts, but there should be some focus on building muscle too. For that, you need to include a good mix of resistance/weight training and also cardio or HIIT based workouts.
- If you’re someone who has been active and wishes to continue being so, focus on different aspects of fitness, like strength, cardio, mobility, flexibility, core strength, etc.
- If you have a specific goal in mind (like to get 10 pushups in one go or to be able to run a 5k or maybe perform a pistol squat with ease), then you can look at adding skill specific exercises too.
While creating a workout plan, you have to ask yourself the following questions:
- How many days a week can you really set aside time to work out?
- Will you be able to commit to particular days or will that fluctuate?
- What days’ work best?
- What time of day works best for you?
It’s also important to not over stress the body and have active recovery/rest days planned too.Pro Tip: If you are just starting your fitness journey, 3 days a week would be a good start. You can eventually increase the frequency. Often doing too much too fast could not be a good thing. If you are an active individual, 4-5 days of workout a week would be ideal.
Rest days are important for recovery, increasing performance and to avoid fatigue. There is constant wear and tear in the muscles during workout, and when you rest is when the body is able to repair these cells. It also helps the cells to grow and get stronger. Skipping rest days can lead to overtraining and burnout. Creating a workout plan is a great way to avoid that. According to Spoorthi, our in-house expert, if you typically workout 5-6 days a week, day 3 and/or 7 would be a good time to rest it out and give your body time to recover.If you over push and over exert, the body tends to give up. And, over time, it can lead to injuries. Over training can also lead to ‘overuse injuries’ in the body. A rest day does not necessarily mean you do nothing. You can choose to do low-intensity/low-impact exercises like stretching, taking a walk, yoga or maybe even dance it out. Additionally, you can set aside a day for active recovery too!
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to choosing your workouts. Getting a workout done shouldn’t seem like a chore. Whether it’s the time of day you choose to devote to exercise or the kind of exercise or even your recovery days - you should be able to identify what your preferences are and then plan around it. For instance, if you like dancing, make sure to include it in your cardio. If you like weight training, you can include it during your strength sessions or even some weight based HIIT workouts. If yoga is your thing, you can do that instead on the active recovery days. But, at the same time, be open to changing things up every now and then, so you can venture out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
Injuries And Limitations
Even if you’ve never actually injured yourself while exercising, you still need to consider injuries when creating a workout plan. It also becomes necessary if you are including exercises that you aren’t familiar with or that have a higher risk of causing injury. Ask yourself the following:
- Have you been injured before, from a sport or from working out or something else?
- Do you have any physical limitations because of this injury?
- Is there anything you can do to prevent it from happening again?
- Do you need to consult a doctor before picking up a certain form of exercise?
Choice Of Workouts
Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, get in shape, tone up, get healthy, get ready for a marathon or all of the above, these are the three main components to any form of exercise – cardio, flexibility training and weight training. If you are unclear of what workouts you should choose, here’s some information that should help:
- S&C & HRX are both great examples for strength/resistance training. The key difference between both being that S&C focuses on full body workouts and helps in increasing muscular and cardiovascular endurance whereas in HRX, we work on specific muscle groups which helps in hypertrophy and build muscular strength and endurance.
- Boxing & Dance Fitness Workouts are known to be great sources of cardio and help you burn calories while having fun
- Yoga can be great to improve your flexibility and also core strength
- You can include other sessions like Walk fitness, LIT or Stretch on your recovery days.
Track And Tweak Your Routine
Even though consistency is key, workout plans have to be constantly checked, updated or tweaked to meet your existing fitness goal and also to keep up with new fitness goals. Tweaking the plan as you progress could be a challenge but you could do the following:
- Include external stressors: For instance, if you have been practicing bodyweight, introduce bands or weight to your training.
- Increase time under tension: It refers to the amount of time that your muscle is held under tension while you perform a movement. During such workouts, you lengthen each phase of the movement (eccentric, concentric, isometric) to make your sets longer. This forces your muscles to work harder and improves muscular strength and growth.
- Progressive overload: This is one of the most fundamental practices used by all coaches for progress. The idea is to increase total volume in your workout. It could be the weight, reps, sets or the difficulty of the exercise in itself. This challenges your body and helps it grow.
- Seek the guidance of a trainer: A certified fitness trainer will help you with programming, keeping your progress in check and also help you achieve your goals gradually.
Now that you know the important points to consider while planning your workout, it might help to know what NOT to do:
Common Mistakes To Avoid While Creating A Plan:
- Bias: Often, when we have preferences, we tend to neglect the other aspects and stick to the formats we like. It is imperative to understand that balance is key while planning your workouts. A good mix of strength, cardio, mobility and flexibility is fundamental - of course, depending on your goals, how much of each of these you should do could vary.
- Skipping Rest days: Not having a rest day can lead to overworking the muscles and eventually leading to decrease in performance, injuries, no recovery - to name a few.
- Skipping warm up/cool down: Warm up and cool down are equally important parts of a good workout routine. Warm up helps to prepare the body for the upcoming workout and avoid injuries. And stretching helps in avoiding shortening of the muscles and better recovery.
- Planning for workouts but not having consistent lifestyle habits: While being consistent with your workouts is a great thing, having a good nutrition plan and other habits (like getting enough sleep or staying hydrated) is equally important.
- Work on movements rather than on muscles. The idea should always be to be able to move effectively in daily life and then to aesthetically set goals.
Building your very own workout program can be a fun (and rewarding) process. One that you can perfect over time. However, if this is your first time creating a workout plan, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a trainer or specialist who can guide you to make sure you aren't doing too much OR too less.