Whether you are reevaluating your current workout routine, getting back into the gym after a well-deserved break, or simply a beginner fitness guru, this article aims to outline the general points to consider as you create and tailor your workout plan to your personal fitness goals.
What is Your Goal?
Before you delve too far into your workout plan, you must evaluate your fitness goals. What are you hoping to accomplish with your time? Common goals include overall weight loss, gaining strength, increasing mobility or reducing pain, and increasing athletic ability. Once your goal has been identified, you can begin to build your workout plan centered around that goal. If you are hoping to lose weight, then you will want to focus on creating a plan that increases the number of calories you are burning in a session. You may want to focus a bit more on cardio. In addition, outside of the gym, you may want to consider going on a diet, or at a minimum, counting your daily calorie intake. If your goal is simply to build massive lats, then you will want to focus your exercises on high-weight, low repetition back-focused movements with limited cardio. Identifying your workout goal is important when creating a workout plan tailored to you.
What is Your Schedule?
Next, you must be realistic when laying out your workout schedule. How often will you make it to the gym during your typical work week? Understandably, consistency is key when hoping for fitness results. Many experts suggest that beginners start by planning workouts 2-3 times per week. However, once you have built up some endurance and become more confident in yourself, anywhere from a consistent 3-6 days per week is ideal. Keep in mind that regardless of your level of fitness, it is suggested that you give your body at least one day of rest each week to recover from your workouts. This gives your muscles time to rejuvenate and rebuild themselves and will prevent burnout as well.
What is Your Split?
If you have been around gym fanatics for any period of time, you may have heard someone ask, “What is your split?” A split refers to the method of training which targets certain relevant muscle regions or muscle groups together in a single workout. This allows one muscle group to be worked to exhaustion one day, and then a different muscle group to be worked the following day with a reduced risk of injury to maximize time spent in the gym. There are three different popular splits used: a full body split, an upper and lower body split, and a single muscle group split. Depending on your fitness goals and your workout frequency, you will need to find what split works best for you.
Full body workouts are popular with professional lifters and athletes as these workouts focus on most—if not all—muscle groups in a few compound movements, such as deadlifts, squats, and power cleans.
Upper and lower body splits are popular with individuals who are looking to tone and strengthen but are not necessarily in the gym 6 days per week. With this split, you are focusing on the upper body one workout, and the lower body the next, but you work all muscles within those two groups on those days.
A single muscle group split is the most structured split and is common with bodybuilders. This split allows one or two specific muscle groups to be hyper-fixated on and worked to exhaustion with exercise after exercise. A different muscle group will be targeted the following day, allowing the previously worked muscles to recover. Often, this split requires 5-6 days per week committed to the gym because of the number of muscles to be worked within a week.
Track and Reevaluate as Needed
Finally, as you become familiar with your workout routine, you must find ways to track and evaluate your progress. More than likely, your first workout plan will need to be adjusted as you learn more about how your body responds to exercise. Be flexible as you progress and understand that your fitness goals may change as well, prompting you to update your workout plan.