With so many different fitness plans available, the prospect of selecting the right one can be intimidating. Each program looks completely different, so how are you supposed to know which will actually work?
While many fitness plans promise to deliver exceptional results for every participant, they often fail to live up to their lofty claims. In reality, no one-size-fits-all approach exists. A plan that works wonders for one person could prove disastrous for the next. Hence, the need for a targeted system that takes your unique situation into account.
I’ve outlined some key steps you can take to create a fitness plan that works for you.
Have you taken the time to define your wellness goals? Without a clear objective in mind, you’re unlikely to make significant progress. Your current goals may look different than those held by those around you, and they may change to reflect your evolving life circumstances. As you determine which objectives should underscore your fitness efforts, opt for SMART goals, a commonly used acronym that helps you develop realistic goals that are achievable with little planning and effort.
In your excitement of goal-setting, you risk going too hard out of the gate and getting overwhelmed, or worse, injured. Instead, begin by choosing one new workout that suits you. Not sure which workout style to try first? Most forms of exercise will fall into at least one of these categories: strength, cardio or flexibility.
Most people will benefit from resistance training. Some of the benefits include improved cognitive function, positive mood change, fat loss, muscle mass and increased energy. If you are not sure about form, consider consulting a fitness professional to avoid injury.
If you are new to the world of weight lifting, don’t be shy! There are highly trained fitness professionals that can create the optimal workout routine specifically for your current fitness level. If you’re not sure how to find the right personal trainer, look for one who will do a thorough fitness assessment, is attentive to your body mechanics and provides specific corrections, and challenges you appropriately without overdoing it. The right trainer will guide you to move your body in ways that are conducive to your goals and make it fun for you. The sure way to stay consistent in your exercise routine is to actually enjoy it!
If cardio is your avenue for heart health, you’re on the right track! However, if your goal is weight loss, I advise that you don’t do more than your body is ready for. Ideally, you’ll make the least amount of change to your exercise routine to elicit the most progress. If you are not sure which movement practice aligns best with your SMART goals, seek guidance from a fitness professional who has experience in several modalities. It may take some trial and error to find a movement practice that feels good, so get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
A simple workout schedule can shift your mentality by establishing a positive habit and ditching the inner “should I or shouldn’t I” negotiations that hold you back. Begin by writing down exactly which exercises you’ll do with set days and times. This information can be detailed in a calendar or planner. Better yet, set a reminder on your phone! Congratulate yourself for a successful workout with a checkmark — you’ll be amazed by how satisfying this simple action feels.
Like it or not, there’s truth in the cliche about abs being made in the kitchen. You could spend hours on the treadmill and still gain weight if your diet primarily consists of prepackaged foods containing simple carbs and excessive trans or saturated fats. Meal planning is a fundamental principle of healthy eating. If you prepare nutritious meals and snacks in advance, you’ll be less susceptible to the lure of processed meals and fast food.
Commit to your new diet and workout plan for a full month. At the end of the month, reevaluate to determine if your regimen is effective. Ask yourself the following key questions:
If you found that following a new diet or workout was too difficult, consider making a few modifications. Lighter workouts or a more appetizing meal plan should help. If, however, you’ve had success in your first month, keep going! Keep in mind that you can always change foods or workouts that eventually grow boring. Continual reassessment will keep you feeling inspired as you make progress toward your goals.
About the Authors
Jessica Tranchina, PT, DPT, is a co-founder of Generator Athlete Lab and has been an athlete her whole life. As the creator of the Generator Method, Tranchina works to help guide others to better performance and recovery and is passionate about bringing the active community of Austin together from all fitness levels and athletic backgrounds. She is the owner of PRIMO Performance and Rehabilitation, which started in Austin in 2010, where her expertise and unique skill set have been established as one of the best in her field. NASM-CPT, ART Certified Provider, CKTP.
Courtney Sprawls, CPT, CHWC, RYT, CA loves all avenues of fitness, from barre to barbells. She is a certified personal trainer, health coach, yoga and barre instructor with a wealth of knowledge to help you reach your goals in a way that is realistic and fun for you! She understands that every person has unique strengths, challenges and desires and wants you to feel good about your routine and health journey. She considers your injuries, obstacles and areas of improvement and gives you modifications to meet you where you are. Generator exercise programs focus on strength, agility, and mobility to get you feeling stronger from the inside out.