A question that is often asked is, "How do you develop the right workout routine?"
The answer largely varies on your personal goals and what you are hoping to accomplish on your fitness journey. What are your big picture fitness goals? Perhaps you want to run a half-marathon or even a 5k. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds. My littles favorite question of all time "WHY?" provides some guidance. Why do you want to work out? If it is for weight loss, why? Keep up with your kids or reclaim self-confidence? To gain muscle mass, why? To improve endurance, why? Help achieve another goal, why? Relief from stress and anxiety, why? The list goes on...
Taking some time to think through your "WHY" can help identify different exercise varieties that will be beneficial to include in your overall workout routine. It's a good idea to think through your goals, desires and your "WHY" at the beginning of a new exercise program but it's also something that is worth re-evaluating at the start of each month or as often as the start of every week.
For example, my big picture fitness goals include working on cardio endurance to help me run for longer periods of time, increasing muscle mass in hopes of being able to do a pull-up one day, and aiding in my overal mental health to reduce daily stress and anxieties. Because of these broad goals, I incorporate plenty of variety into my weekly workout routine including a couple different modes of cardio, strength training and yoga/stretching.
Month over month I will take into consideration where I am progressing as it relates to those goals and if there anything upcoming that impacts one more than the other and this helps me to plan out my workouts. In the case of April, I've got the Illinois Half Marathon coming up at month's end. While I'm not training completely through weekly runs, I am focusing a little more this month on cardio endurance while still including weekly strength training sessions and plenty of yoga/stretching. To take it one step further, I will evaluate at the beginning of the week how I am feeling mentally and physically to alter the week's workouts accordingly. Is anything sore that requires me to adjust the cardio of the week? Would I benefit from additional yoga sessions? As it turns out this week I'm working through some tendonitis pain in my ankle from Tuesday's long run. I swapped Thursday's originally planned workout of Bodyattack for yoga.
I haven't always been as careful and adaptive when it comes to my workouts but as I get older (and perhaps wiser), I'm learning the importance of mixing up my routine week over week, month after month. It not only helps to avoid becoming bored of the same things over and over but your body needs that variety to keep progressing forward. If your goal is to lose weight and you put in intense cardio session after intense cardio session to try and burn fat, you will likely burn yourself out long before the fat even has a chance. Changing routine also helps push you out of your comfort zone and forces you to try new things which I've become a huge fan of this year.
I have also found that it's important to go into each week with a rough plan. Not only will this help you to get closer to your goals, but having a plan will make you much more likely to stick to it and execute on those workouts. It's much easier to skip going to the gym if you haven't set any personal commitments of going to group exercise class on Monday and Friday and lifting weights on Tuesday and Thursday for example.
So, all that said, what did my workouts look like this week?
Given that I know this half marathon is coming up in a couple of weeks, my main cardio of the week was a nine miler Tuesday morning with a short but intense cycling class as well. I kept up my weekly strength training, but dialed back the intensity a bit as to not be extra sore going into the race. Bodyflow and yoga rounded out the remainder of the week which was so needed and much appreciated by my body. I set up my workout plan on Monday but as I mentioned above, adapted as needed as the week progressed.
In other exciting news, I am getting very close to launching my personal training business. If this post is any indicator, I have a strong desire to help you reach your fitness goals by developing workout routines that will help you to work towards and achieve those goals. If this is something that at all interests you, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!