Life in Balance: How to Plan a Workout Routine

Life in Balance: How to Plan a Workout Routine (A Seat at the Table)

Starting (or re-starting) a health and fitness routine can be challenging.  Regardless of whether you’re beginning your journey with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation, or if you’re feeling resigned and frustrated, the most important thing is to be practical in your planning.  You’re probably not going to be able to sustain going from zero to sixty over the long haul, so begin with a few small changes.  If you’re currently not working out, set a small goal to do 1-2 planned workouts a week for the next month.  During that time figure out what the best way is for you to incorporate those workouts in your schedule.  If you’re trying to amp up your workout routine make your goal a little more challenging.

The best habits are ones that you can tag on to something you already do.  For example, if you workout on your way home from work, or as soon as you get home, the trigger for working out is leaving work/arriving home.  You don’t have to decide on when you’ll do it.  Just like with brushing your teeth, you don’t have to decide when to do it, you just know that it’s a thing you do when you wake up and before you go to bed.  By having a trigger, like leaving work = workout time, you remove the question of “when should I workout?” and are more likely to do it.

But you have to have a workout plan.  The fewer questions you have about when, where and how you’ll work out the more likely you are to just get it done!

When making your workout routine think about these things:

Where will you workout?  You do NOT need a gym membership to have a good workout, but if getting out of the house will make you more focused then find a convenient gym to your work or your home and figure out how to make that your new routine.

When will you workout?  First thing in the morning?  Right after work?  When will there be the fewest distractions?  How will you avoid sleeping in or how will you turn down after work plans to make your workout stick?

What equipment is available to you?  You do NOT need a lot of equipment to workout.  There are a ton of bodyweight exercises you can do to begin a workout routine.  Not having equipment is not a good excuse.  You can also make a ton of weights using things around your house.  Save a milk jug and fill it with water or rice to make your own weight.  Get creative, or “earn” your equipment as a reward for sticking to your routine.

How much time will you have to workout?  We’re all busy, but having a routine was important enough to you to read this far, so clearly you want this to be a priority in your life.  What’s the realistic amount of time you’re going to workout?  Your workout can be as long or as short as you plan for.  The shorter it is, the more intense you’ll want to make it, but that depends on your goals.  The first step is to start; you can always re-evaluate later.  But with all the workout options available not having enough time is not the right excuse.  You find time for what you prioritize.

How many days a week will you workout?  Ease into this, but if you find it easier to maintain a habit by doing the same thing every day find different ways to workout.  You can do splits, where you do upper body one day, lower body the next, etc.  Or you can run one day, do yoga the next, strength the third day.  Find what works for you.  There’s no “right” way.

What other fitness activities do you do, how will those incorporate in your routine?  Are you already involved in a recreational sport?  Are you on your feet all day at work?  Do you do a lot of housework?  Consider the activities you already do and plan your workouts around them, working out is supposed to help you meet your goals.  Don’t punish your body if it’s already exhausted.  Exercise will give you more energy, but overtraining will stall progress.


What does your workout routine look like?  What other factors do you take into account when planning your workouts?

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2 thoughts on “Life in Balance: How to Plan a Workout Routine

  1. What a kick to read this today – I start 3 50-minute exercise sessions next week at the Takoma Park Community Center for seniors over 50 as a kick-starter to my exercise routine. Wish me luck with line dancing and 2 zumba classes!

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