Ready to get fit? Getting started can be the hardest part of any workout journey. While not everyone can afford a personal trainer or expensive group fitness classes, everyone deserves to have an intelligent, well-designed program that will help them achieve the results they’re looking for.
That’s why I’ve outlined a few easy steps to help you create your own effective fitness schedule. By the end of this article, you should have insight into what it takes to build your program (whatever goals you may have) like a pro and learn how to stick to it!
How to Create Your Own Fitness Schedule
No matter what your goals, consistency is key for achieving results. Meaning, you need to show up. You need to be an active participant in your training. To achieve this, you need a consistent schedule that will help you take the daily steps needed for your success.
To do this, we need to create a general schedule. Ask yourself, what are you going to do each Monday through Sunday to achieve your goal? Unsure? Keep reading, I’ve got you covered!
Action Step #1) Create a General Schedule
Grab a piece of paper and write down the days of the week in a column. Let’s start by deciding what days of the week will be workout days and which will be rest days. For most people, five days of exercise with two days of rest is more than enough to get adequate results.
We’ll get into the details later. For now, just determine when works best for you to train and rest. Personally, I like to workout Sunday through Thursday, leaving Friday and Saturday free to spend time with my friends and family without distraction. Here's an example of what my ideal week would look like:
Action Step #2) Determine Your Specific Activity
Next, it’s time to determine the specific activity that will be associated with each day. It’s good to establish some variety of activity.
For example - let’s say your goal is to run a 5K. So your training will most likely include a lot of running, but that isn't all that should be included. A great 5K training plan will include general strength, active recovery, and rest in addition to running workouts. The other three elements are not only incredibly important for injury prevention but will improve performance as well.
Time to fill in your specific variety on your chart. See mine below.
Note, for this particular plan, I’ve intentionally worked in two active recovery days. These active recovery days will provide relief to tired muscles, while still adding to and benefiting the runner's success.
Specifically, one rest day has been converted to yoga, to unwind and tend to tight muscles that have built up throughout the week. One workout day has been converted to swimming or walking, this will still provide a cardio-based activity to increase fitness, but at a lower intensity and impact.
Action Step #3) Determine Your Variety
Doing the same thing every day is an excellent way to open the doors for bodily injury and mental burnout!
Rather than running the same route day after day at the same slow pace (boring), that will only exacerbate nagging injuries and weaknesses; a routine with variety will address your areas of weakness while still building up your strengths.
For example, let's consider the 3 days a week dedicated to running in the example schedule. These should not be the same loop, at the same pace every day. Ideally, one would be intense hill sprints (to increase speed), another a long slow five-miler later (to build endurance), and finally a medium max effort 2-3 miler.
Don't forget, in addition to your running workouts, one day of the week is dedicated to building full body strength which will help ensure your muscles grow strong enough to regularly endure the pounding and jarring of frequent runs. Finally, cap it all off with active recovery and rest days to give your muscles adequate rest to regenerate and your body the relief it needs.
All of these elements together, create an awesome plan that will not only keep you healthy but take you to the next level.
Now it's time to add variety into your chart! Keep in mind, it’s probably best not to load up your schedule with intense days back to back, be realistic about where you’ll need an easier day here or a recovery day there.
Action Step #4) Mark Your Calendar!
Finally, check your calendar and determine what time of the day would be best to fit each of your training sessions in. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same every day or week.
For example, if it works better for you to run at night, but you’d rather go to the gym in the morning because it’s less crowded, then go for it! You have to do what works best for you.
Now, make a pledge to yourself that you’ll do that training no matter what. If you want to be successful, sticking to your schedule is key!
Sticking With It
Keep Challenging Yourself
It’s easy to get bored when things get too easy. Continue to challenge yourself by making your workouts harder. Increase the resistance, challenge your rep ranges/sets, find new/longer trails, go faster. This is how we make progress and continue to see results.
In general, it takes your body 4-6 weeks to overcome and master a stage in training before it’s time to progress to new challenges. Reevaluate around this time in your program and explore ways you can challenge your routine.
Be Flexible Not Flaky
Life comes up! You won’t always be able to perfectly stick to your routine. That’s okay, that’s life. But it’s what you do with what gets thrown at you that makes all the difference.
It’s always better to do something than to lose a whole day of exercise. Rather than totally bail out on your plans, adapt them to still fit a workout into your day.
- Can you do a shorter workout?
- Can you switch today's workout for a different workout or rest day?
If you can’t be flexible, don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick yourself up the next day, brush off the dust, and get right back to it!