Plan Your Workout. . .and Workout Your Plan!

Copyright 2006 J Lance Curtis

I see it everyday. You do too, but you may not recognize it. Someone, maybe you, walks into the gym/fitness center, pauses, looks around, pauses some more, and looks around some more. On and on it goes. This is the mark of someone who doesn’t know what their workout routine will be that day.

Shoot, they may have not decided which body parts to work. And so they look around trying to decide what exercises to do, based on which equipment is available or how sore their muscles are, or even how tired they feel.

Basically, it’s like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, without a menu plan, maybe even without a list, feeling like you are starving. When you get home you may have blown your entire grocery budget on the wrong foods, even though those foods looked good at the time of purchase.

Planning your workouts for the week ahead is the best way to increase your productivity during your gym visits. This planning time gives you a perspective on your fitness goals that just running off to your workout cannot.

Finding the best time for this planning, in an already overly busy schedule, can be challenging. However, it is definitely worth the effort. Within a few short weeks you will be able to plan an entire week of workouts in about 15 minutes. Since most people run the rat race Monday – Friday and use the weekends for play and downtime, I will assume that workouts are done Monday – Friday as well. (With an occasional Saturday if you choose to skip the Friday workouts.)

This presents Sunday as the best day for you to jot down what you plan to do for the following week. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your planning session and thus, the most from your workouts, without having to spend hours at the gym.

Know what time demands lay ahead for the next week. If you normally hit the gym at 5:45 but Susie has gymnastics at 5:30 then you know you have to juggle the activities. If Susie is ok with you not watching practice, this may be a great time to squeeze in a workout. However, because you probably need to pick her up by 6:30 your workout time is at a premium. Know this going in and planning for it helps you accomplish your fitness goals while taking care of the family as well.

Know what body parts you are working on which days, and why. Haphazardly combining muscle groups will actually stunt your progress. For example, my personal clients perform their upper leg workouts as a standalone session. This gives total focus on one of the biggest groupings of muscles in the body. Your body can respond by dedicating all the available resources on the legs.

But also know that your chest and back can be worked effectively together. Shoulder and arms make a nice combination. By knowing this, and planning your workouts accordingly, you will skyrocket your success!

How much cardio you do and when is important. Spacing your resistance training to allow for recovery can open up days that can be devoted to cardio alone. Because you are planning for this you can enter the gym knowing what you are doing with the confidence of knowing why. This avoids “feeling guilty” because you worked on one or two body parts and not all muscles. It amazes me that some people will beat themselves up for doing something positive, simply because they do not know (or plan) enough to realize the positive aspects of their activities.

Spend 15 minutes once a week and begin to unlock the dream body that is locked up inside you!