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How to Design a Fitness Plan

Updated on December 8, 2015
sagolia profile image

I am a vet tech with my B.S. in Animal Science and a passion for animal health, dog training, fitness, organization, and always learning.

**I am not a personal trainer or nutritionist. You should consult your doctor before starting any new fitness regimen. My advice is based solely on experience and what I've found to work for me.**

Parts of a Fitness Regimen

Before beginning just any old fitness plan, you want to make sure you are incorporating all aspects of fitness. You don't want to focus only on cardio or strength. The five parts of physical fitness to keep in mind include:

Cardio Endurance. Cardio endurance is achieved through a variety of exercises, such as running, swimming, and cycling. Improving this area of fitness improves heart function, increases oxygen supply to the muscles, and aids in fat loss.

Muscular Strength. Muscular strength is how much weight a muscle can push or pull. In order to improve this area of fitness, you would need to lift heavy weights. When I say "heavy", I mean "so much weight that you can only lift it a handful of times". A good way to test your muscular strength is to lift to failure; this is when you lift so much weight that you can only lift it once.

Muscular Endurance. Muscular endurance is a muscle's ability to "keep going". This is particularly important is events such as sports, where the same muscle movements are required over and over again. Muscle endurance can be improved by lifting lighter weights for more repetitions.

Flexibility. Flexibility refers to the range of motion in a joint and the associated muscles' ability to stretch with that joint's movement. This can be approved by stretching. It is important to stretch when your muscles are already warmed up, such as after a warm-up and after the entire workout is completed. Stretching with cold muscles can lead to injury, so make sure to warm up!

Body Composition.This is the reason that most people workout. Body composition refers to the make-up of your body, in other words, how much muscle and fat your body carries. Most people workout to lose fat and gain muscle. Muscle size is increased through use, particularly with moderately heavy weights with moderate repetitions. Fat loss in increased through energy use; this is achieved with cardio (which requires a lot of energy use) and increasing muscle size, because muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.


Designing a Fitness Plan

Implementing these aspects of fitness takes some serious planning and preparation. It is important to find balance while also directing your focus so that you reach your goals.

If your goal is to gain muscle, then you should place more focus more on muscular strength and endurance. On that same note, it is important to work on flexibility to keep the muscles that your working loose.

If your goal is to lose fat, then strength training and cardiovascular exercise should be your focus. If all you do is cardio, then when you lose fat you won't have much muscular definition. Using some strength training allows you to keep your muscle definition as you lose fat.

If all you want is to be more physically fit, then you should balance these five aspects evenly for a well-rounded routine.

Steps to Designing a Fitness Plan
1. Decide what your fitness goals are.
You need to decide if you want to lose fat, gain muscle, be able to run five miles, etc. Determining your fitness goals gives your fitness regimen purpose.
2. Determine how much time you can commit.
Sit down and look at your calendar. Be realistic about the time you can commit to exercise. Also, consider where you will exercise. If you're going to the gym, maybe you'll choose to go after work. If you are going to workout at home, maybe it'd be most convenient to do it in the morning. Make your workout dates and locations as convenient as possible! Doing so will make creating the workout habit so much easier.
3. Decide on a workout routine.
Now, you need to decide what workouts you'll do on what days. How often will you do strength training? Cardio? Will you have a freebie day to do something fun like hiking? Make a workout routine for each day, and try to add variety to keep your body guessing.
4. Plan for the future.
Plan for progress. Decide how you want to make your workouts more intense and how you will track your progress. This is important in order for you to always be improving! Track how often you workout. Track how much you can lift. Track how far you can run or how many laps you can swim. Track whatever it is that coincides with your fitness goals!

Example Workouts Based on Goals

The following examples are assuming you have an hour to devote to exercise, five days per week. If you don't have that much time, then just decrease the plans proportionately.

Goal: Gain Muscle.

Monday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift moderate-heavy, less reps, upper body. Stretch.

Tuesday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift light-moderate, more reps, lower body. Stretch.

Wednesday -- Rest. This is important. It take muscles about 48 hours to recover from exercise.

Thursday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift light-moderate, more reps, upper body. Stretch.

Friday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Light moderate-heavy, less reps, lower body. Stretch.

Goal: Lose Fat.

Monday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift moderate-heavy, less reps, full body. Cardio exercise. Stretch.

Tuesday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Cardio exercise. Stretch.

Wednesday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift light-moderate or moderate-heavy with proportionate reps, full body. Cardio exercise (optional). Stretch.

Thursday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Cardio exercise. Stretch.

Friday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Light light-moderate, more reps, full body. Cardio exercise. Stretch.

Goal: Overall Physical Fitness.

Monday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift moderate-heavy, less reps, full body. Stretch.

Tuesday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Cardio exercise. Stretch.

Wednesday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift light-moderate or moderate-heavy with proportionate reps (optional), full body. Stretch.

Thursday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Cardio exercise. Stretch.

Friday -- Warm-up. Stretch. Lift light-moderate, more reps, full body. Stretch.

Remember that a high-quality diet is important to make progress in any fitness regimen. Abs are made in the kitchen, right? You will not see progress unless you match your workout regimen with an equally healthy diet. Be conscious of what you put in your body; while I agree that treats are amazing on occasion, ultimately, food is fuel. Good luck on your fitness journey!

What are your fitness goals? What is your workout plan? How do you track your progress?

Do you plan your workouts or wing it?

See results

© 2015 sagolia


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