How To Make A Workout Plan

Starting a workout plan can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m here to share with you guys some tips that I used to create a weekly workout plan that has helped me reach my fitness goals and get the most gains out of my workouts!

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Photograph by Retrospective

When I first started my fitness journey, I knew I wanted to get in shape but I wasn’t sure how. I knew I wanted to workout, but I really didn’t know what I should do. I originally started doing at home exercises with the short “Get Focused” workouts I found on the Nike Training Club app. The app suggested I add 30 minutes of cardio to maximize the workout, but I hate cardio, so I would follow up my short workouts with a mile run (but more like jog and walk) spent on the elliptical or on the treadmill.

Even though my frame was small, I had a little muffin top poking out over my jeans and I wanted to get rid of it. I thought simply doing ab workouts 3 times a week followed by the mile run would give me the full body transformation I wanted. Needless to say…I was wrong. I hadn’t changed my diet yet and I saw very little progress.

I wanted to spice up my workouts so I decided to go to the gym. Ahh, the gym. It’s a wonderful place, but when you first walk in, it’s this super big, intimidating place full of male grunts and machines you have no idea how to use.

I wanted to shape up my legs and still work on my abs, so that’s all I focused on, floor ab workouts plus the leg press machine, the abductor machine, and air squats. I was too afraid to workout my arms because I thought that would make them bulky (which is totally not true by the way). I would go to the gym once a week and do my routine and at home I would do the “Get Lean” 30 minute full body workouts on the Nike Training Club app.

Eventually after months of trail and error (and finally starting to work my arm muscles) my friend suggested I split my muscle groups and work them individually on separate days. It ended up working for me and I formulated a workout plan that I still use today.

STARTING A WORKOUT PLAN

  1. KNOW YOUR GOAL: If you want to slim down or burn fat, you have to train differently than if you wanted to put on weight or gain muscle mass. In order to start planning your workouts, you need to know what your goal is. Do you want to lose a couple pounds? A lot of pounds? Do you want to tone up? Do you want to get a bigger booty? Stronger legs? Toned arms?  Knowing what you want to achieve is the first step.
  2. SET ASIDE TIME: Once you know what your goal is, you need to see how many days a week you are willing to commit to working out. If you are just beginning, I would start off smaller like with 3 days a week and work up from there. If you’ve already been working out or are a pretty active person, dedicate 4 or 5 days.
  3. GET DETAILED: Here’s the fun part, deciding how to break up your workouts. Results come faster if you split your muscle groups when doing strength or weight training. Decide which muscle groups you want to give attention to. If you are starting out with 3 days a week, try splitting the days into “lower body”, “upper body”, and “abs”. If you dedicated more days a week, you can split up the days even more like “biceps/triceps”, “abs/back”, “hamstring/glutes”, “quads/calves”, “chest/shoulders”.
  4. ADD IN THE CARDIO: Now that you have your days decided and proportioned out (and hopefully written down somewhere), it’s time to decide how much cardio you want to do. If you want to slim down you can separate a complete day for cardio and add it in after each workout. (Lots of steady state cardio will cause you to lose both body fat and muscle mass, so if you want an all around slim down, this is for you).If you want to burn fat and still keep your muscle, I would suggest HIIT cardio 2-3 times a week at least after your strength and weight training sessions. Doing HIIT afterwards, and not before allows you to burn more fat because you would have burned off your pre-workout meal during the strength training and your body will have to rely on your fat stores for energy.

Once you have your workout plan down, try it out! I would give it a month and track the results before you start tweaking the plan. You can add in or take away whatever works for you whether its full body workouts, zumba class, pilates, yoga days, etc. Have fun with it!

MY WORKOUT SCHEDULE (Summer Prep)

  • MONDAY: Full body workout (circuit training) + 10 – 20 minute HIIT cardio session
  • TUESDAY: Rest day
  • WEDNESDAY: Hamstring/Glutes (heavy weights) + lower abs
  • THURSDAY: Triceps/Biceps/Shoulders + Obliques + 10 – 20 minute HIIT cardio session
  • FRIDAY: Rest day/active rest day
  • SATURDAY: Quads/calves + overall abs + 10 -20 minute HIIT cardio session
  • SUNDAY: Chest/Back/Abs + 10 – 20 minute HIIT cardio session

(If I’m in the mood, I’ll have an active rest day. During an active rest day I’ll do something that keeps me moving but isn’t intense enough to be considered a workout like bike riding, quick ab workout, yoga, etc)

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Left: A month after I started my journey. Right: 8 months after dedication and tweaking my workout plan to fit my body, time, and fitness goals.

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