How to create an exercise plan

Are you squeamish (or queasy) about your body’s shape? Are you tired of being tired all the time? Perhaps your doctor has suggested that you start getting more active before you become a health risk.

Whatever your reason for beginning an exercise program or buying an exercise machine, it’s a good idea to start with an exercise plan. By developing and following a plan, you are more likely to succeed at achieving your goals than if you just jump in and start doing a few exercises every other day.

The best way to create an exercise plan is to first identify your objective. Do you want to

lose weight, increase your endurance, or reduce your risk of life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?

Decide what results you want and then determine what exercises will get you there.

An exercise plan is a long-term program so you need to set short-term goals and milestones to keep you on track.

It’s better to set goals for how you will progress through your plan instead of only watching pounds and inches.

You might get discouraged if you don’t start seeing results right away, but you will recognize your progress in your strength and endurance. If you focus your attention on your exercise plan and using proper form, the pounds and inches will disappear.

A general exercise plan that enables you to get in shape and maintain your ideal weight should include these components:

• Aerobic (cardio) for burning calories, boosting energy, and increasing endurance.
• Anaerobic (strength training) for building or toning muscles.
• Stretching to increase flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.

The combination of these two types of exercises will help you achieve your exercise and fitness goals. Ideally, to achieve your objective, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity each week. This amounts about 30 minutes a day five days a week.

If you keep your plan simple, you will stick with it better. Whether you go to a gym or workout at home, there are many good exercises that will bring your desired results.

At the beginning of each week, choose a cardio exercise and a strength training workout that you will perform during the week.

The following is one example:

Monday: Cycling, running, swimming, aerobics, jump rope, etc.
Tuesday: Upper body strength training (push-ups, pull-ups, curls, dips)
Wednesday: Cycling, running, swimming, aerobics, jump rope, etc.
Thursday: Lower body strength training (Squats, lunges, abdominal crunches, leg raises, calve raises, etc.
Friday: Cycling, running, swimming, aerobics, jump rope, etc.

If you are not one to go outdoors much, consider purchasing or using home exercise machines to achieve your same goals. For example, you can use a recumbent exercise bike for your cycling, you can use adjustable dumbbells along with a home gym (such as Bowflex which offers both). View our exercise machine review page for more information on various types of equipment options.

Remember to stretch at the end of each workout—not before. Stretching before a workout puts you at risk for injury. Always warm up by doing at least three minutes of cardio before you start your strength training workout. This warms up your muscles, helps prevent injury, and enables you to perform better during the workout.

One thing to remember if your objective is to lose weight is that strength training builds muscle mass which weighs more than fat. When measuring weight loss, don’t go by what’s on the scale. Base your progress by how you look and how your clothes fit.

Keep an exercise journal to track your progress such as the number of reps during strength training and duration of your cardio workout. Keeping a journal of your exercise plan has a magical affect in meeting your objectives. When you write things down, you are more mindful of your successes and are more inclined to stay with your plan.

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