Have you ever stood in the gym thinking, “What now?” If yes, we totally understand where you’re coming from. It can be incredibly overwhelming to stand in the middle of a busy gym trying to figure out what exercises to do or where to start, especially if you don’t have much experience in the gym to begin with. If you want to say goodbye to this feeling of confusion, but don’t want to have to rely on fitness professionals to help you get a fitness program together, we’re here to help. Putting together a solid workout plan doesn’t have to be tricky or difficult. While it may be intimidating at first, we have no doubt that you’ll eventually get the hang of things and will start putting together great workout plans in no time.
Step 1: Determine Your Individual Factors
Before you can even start putting your workout program together, there are several things that you need to consider. Keeping these considerations in mind will help you better select the kinds of exercises that will best suit your body’s needs and your personal goals. After all, everybody is different, so a program that might work for a buddy of yours won’t necessarily garner you the same effects. The top factors for you to consider are your age, diet, free time and goals. Your goals are particularly important as these will ultimately help you fine tune the workout program that you put together.
Step 2: Consider How Much Time You Have
Time has a lot to do with your workout program. For example, how much time can you commit to devote to working out? Some people can spend hours in the gym every day of the week while others can barely manage to scrape 30 minutes together 3 times a week. However, much time you can commit to working will also help you determine what type of workouts you’ll be doing. If you’ve got tons of time on your hands, you can go through detailed weight lifting programs along with cardio exercise. If you don’t have as much time to spare, you might want to go for quick but effective workouts like circuit training or high-intensity interval training.
Step 3: Determine Where You’re Going to Be Working Out
What good is developing a workout program around the latest exercise equipment if you don’t have access to said equipment? At the same time, why not take advantage of said equipment if you do have access to them. If you’re working out in a gym, take inventory of the equipment that’s available to you and what muscle group their best for. If you’re working out at home, you’re going to want to focus on body weight exercises and equipment-free circuits.
Step 4: Choose A Warm Up Exercise
Warm-ups are an often overlooked but crucial part of a workout plan. Warming up helps get your blood flowing and your muscles ready for the intense activity ahead. Failing to warm-up spell the difference between an effective and a subpar workout and will protect you from injury. Warm-ups generally last 10 to 15 minutes and typically revolve around cardiovascular exercises. Choose a warm-up that suits your fitness level and will have you breaking a sweat. Some options of effective warm-ups include dynamic stretching, a few minutes on a cardio machine like the treadmill, rower or bike, jumping jacks or evening jogging up and down a flight of stairs a few times.
Step 5: Decide on One or Two Muscle Groups to Focus On
An effective workout plan hinges on being able to determine what muscle group you are targeting for the day. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get a full body work out at the gym, we recommend choosing two muscle groups to focus on per session. For example, your Monday-Wednesday-Friday sessions can focus on arms and legs while your Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday sessions can focus on your core. The more advanced you get, the more targeted your sessions can get. For example, you can dedicate a day to shoulders and back and dedicate another to glutes and hamstrings.
Step 6: Pick Your Exercises
Once you’ve decided on what muscle groups you’re going to be focusing on, you can start selecting what workouts you’ll be doing. If you are going with a full-body work out, you’ll want to select one exercise for each big muscle group. If you’re focusing on a particular muscle group, you’ll want to select 3 or 4 exercises that target the muscle group you’re working on for the day. For example, if you’re focusing on abs and legs, your first program can include reverse crunches, Russian twists, wood choppers and abdominal roll outs for the abs. You can then throw in walking lunges, sumo squats, bench step ups and seated leg raises for the leg portion of your program.
Step 7: Figure Out Reps and Sets
Depending on your strength and level of fitness, you can adjust how many sets you’ll do for the program and how many reps each set will include. Beginners will want to do a smaller number of reps but may possibly want to maximize their sets. For example, if you’re just starting out, you can do 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps. If you’re more advanced, you can add weights to the mix, increase your reps and stick to 3 sets. You may want to play it by ear for your first few sessions to figure out how many reps you can do to challenge yourself but still maintain proper form.
Step 8: Choose Effective Stretches to Cool Down
Stretching is just as important to your work out plan as the warm up is because it helps the recovery process and improves your range of motion as well. Of course, you’ll have to pick stretches that actually target the muscles you’ve been working on. After all, what point is it stretching out your arms and shoulders if your session was targeted to your abs and back? An easy bank of stretches to look into are actually found in yoga poses. Try checking beginner poses out and what muscle groups they target when choosing your stretches and cool down.