Summer is just around the corner and it’s got many of us – including me! – thinking about kicking our workout routines up a notch. Creating a balanced workout plan before you get started will ensure you’re not just winging it on a day-by-day basis and it also holds a lot of other benefits.
It can prevent you from getting bored or burned out, make sure you’re training your whole body to avoid muscular imbalances, ensure you’re consistently working towards your goals, and help keep you motivated to stay on track.
Here are some workout planning tips to get you started.
Getting the balance right
Routine is key to making workout plans stick, so if you can figure out a routine that you can replicate every week it will make life a lot easier.
A balanced routine will incorporate:
- Cardiovascular training*
- Strength training (weights training or bodyweight exercise such as yoga or pilates)*
- Flexibility and stretching (this can be part of your usual workouts or a specific stretching session)
- Time off for your body to rest and recover
*Some kinds of training incorporate both cardio and strength training such as aerobics classes that include exercises like squats or lunges.
Sort your schedule
Your plan needs to be realistic and fit in around the unchangeable things in your life, for example, don’t schedule a workout session at 5am on a Saturday if you know you like to go out with your friends until the wee small hours every Friday night.
The Ministry of Health recommends adults should have at least 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise spread across the week, or 5 hours for extra health benefits. So bearing that in mind…
- On a piece of paper draw up a blank timetable with your days Monday through to Sunday.
- Figure out how many workout sessions you want to incorporate into your week.
- Cross your rest days out.
- If you have set workouts, schedule those in (i.e. sports trainings, sports games, social workouts).
- Think about the number of sessions you want to plan in and work out how many you want to be cardio vs. strength training. This should typically be around a 50/50 split across your week.
- Write your sessions into the week planner. Take into consideration your working or school schedule, whether you have children/when you will be able to work out, whether you’re a morning or evening exerciser, if you want to work out with friends and what their schedule is etc.
- If you are a shift worker or your schedule is similarly unpredictable and changes a lot, plan alternative workouts for each day (i.e. have training options planned for both mornings and evenings).
- Stick it on your fridge or somewhere obvious so you always know what your plan is.
What are your goals and what keeps you going?
People generally don’t just work out for the sake of it. Everyone’s got their reasons for training; whether it’s to drop a dress size, be fit enough to go up a flight of stairs without puffing, gain some muscle, run around after the children easily, achieve a specific sports goal, to stave off health problems, or to de-stress after a long work day.
Remind yourself of your big goal if you ever find yourself getting off track.
What exercise do you like?
You also need to take into account what exercise you enjoy doing. Doing bootcamp sessions six days a week may be motivating and get you to your goal faster, but if it’s too full-on you may not be able to stick to it in the long term.
Some gentle exercise options or doing something that’s fun but not necessarily intense (trampolining? ice skating? going for a beach walk?) will help tide you over if you’re feeling burned out, bored or if you get injured. This leads onto the next point:
Listen to your body
Your routine needs to be flexible so that if you can’t do one of the workouts in your routine for whatever reason, try to reschedule in another workout that same day. If you’re feeling unwell, skip the intense cardio and do a gentle stretching session instead. If you’re going out for the evening and can’t do your usual night time workout, plan one for the morning or go for a walk at lunchtime instead. If you have gardening to do, get sweeping/digging/lifting/pulling and ditch the day’s usual workout plan.
If you’re feeling bored of your usual routine and want to shake it up a bit, swap out your normal workout for a dance class, and outdoor run, a trampolining session or stand up paddleboarding. Train with friends. Train with family. Train with work colleagues. Think outside the square – there are a lot of ways to get sweaty and keeping things fun will keep you motivated in the long term.
Rather than aiming to go as hard as you can all the time, make it your goal to just keep moving!
Image / Pixabay