Now that many of us have begun to wind down for Christmas, we may have decided to focus our efforts on the New Year and begin to plan about what workout routine we want to follow. For some of us, this may include creating our own for the first time! Of course, you could simply take a programme off the internet, however they are extremely broad and are not personalised to the individual.
If you have never created a programme for yourself, there are a few things you should consider before you create your plan:
The first thing to consider is how much time per week you can REALISTICALLY commit to exercise. We all like the idea of working out 6 times a week. Unfortunately, most people have full-time jobs, families and other commitments that might prevent them from keeping to this commitment. So, evaluate your schedule and identify an appropriate number of days a week to working out; I would suggest for you to actually commit to LESS days than what you think! It’s better for your morale to be able to commit to 3 days a week for a number of weeks before introducing a 4th day. If you schedule too many days and begin to miss workouts, you are setting yourself up for failure from the get go.
Also think about the actual days themselves. If you have kids, it’s likely you will be able to commit to weekends. Maybe you need to work out in the mornings or can’t do Thursdays because of another social commitment. Be sure to feed all of this into your plan.
Now that you have decided the number of days you are going to work out, now it’s time to think about what your actual goals are. Do you want to build strength? Or perhaps your focus is to pack on muscle? Or, you might just want to be healthier! Well, before you can begin understanding the content of each workout you need to decide what you want to achieve. Your goals will decide the types of exercise, the number of sets, the intensity, the number of reps etc. Your goals are your foundation of any workout.
No matter what, you need to enjoy your workout plan. If you are an experienced lifter, you may already know what exercises you prefer doing and which ones to stay away from. Include this in your thinking. Of course, there needs to be some flexibility and your preference should align with your goals! But there may be small things you may need want to include in your plan such as conditioning work after resistance training, or you enjoy including body weight movements. Definitely stick these into your plan!
Experience plays a huge part into your workout plan. If, in the past, you are used to training 2 days a week and you suddenly double this to 4 times a week then you are at serious risk of overtraining. Or maybe you’ve never squatted more than once a week? It may be a bad idea to begin squatting 3 times a week at a high intensity. Don’t throw yourself into an advanced program full of complicated variations of lifts, or super high volume like pro-bodybuilders if you know you’ve been training for 6 months; programme based on your experience!
Finally, considering injuries is something I have had to personally do the past 3 months. It seems pretty obvious but there’s no point in scheduling heavy squats into your leg days if you have on-going knee issues. Or maybe your shoulder twinges during dumbbell presses? Don’t include anything into your plan that is going to further aggravate any injuries. There may even be a time where you need to not only working around the injury, but actually program around rehabbing the injury. Perhaps, 50% of your workout will be focused on rehab exercises, stretching and mobility work.
Injuries are a show stopper- at least they can be. Don’t try to ignore that they exist in your workout plans otherwise you WILL make them work. Be smart and ensure you give acknowledge your injury and programme accordingly.
Hopefully, these 5 considerations will help you become more mindful when planning your workouts for the New Year! Remember, consistency is the key here. A plan that is only 50% optimal but followed consistently 100% is better than a plan that is 100% optimal but only followed 50% of the time!