How to Create a Workout Routine in 4 Steps
A new fitness routine may be the gateway to the kind of change you sorely need. Maybe it’s been a minute (or a year), and you want to return to a place where climbing up a long flight of stairs doesn’t overwhelm you. Or, perhaps you’re a dedicated gym buff, but you need a new routine to replace the ones you’ve gotten tired of.
Either way, a new exercise routine is your ticket to a fitness goal you’ve set—and want to keep.
That’s why a new workout routine can also be one the most powerful expressions of self-care—focused simply on numbers of reps, and catalogs of personal achievement—to demonstrate to yourself that you’re capable of profound improvement. So, go ahead and change your days for the better. Here’s how to create a workout routine in four easy steps.
Step #1: Make the Time and Claim Your Space
Workout routines are like personal contracts you can make with yourself. And, as with any contract, they come with a couple of basic requirements you’re going to have to stick to if you want results.
Even if you’re not yet sure of the specific results you want, understand that any fitness routine requires two commitments before you can even start:
Knowing how to start a workout routine relies heavily on these two elements—but don’t worry if they sound a little abstract. We’ll break it down below.
Time Is Precious, But Planning Can Help You Carve Some Out
Among your myriad obligations, it can seem impossible to fit a brand new exercise routine into your schedule if it’s not already there. But chances are, you already know you need to prioritize time for physical activity. If finding the time seems too daunting, pull out your planner and take stock of where your time tends to disappear:
- Study your schedule – Identify the appointments, meetings, games, and/or recitals you absolutely can’t miss. Make a list of these “must-dos” and any others that are inflexible.
- Identify your free time – Now, highlight the gaps in your schedule—lunch breaks, evenings, early mornings, or that sweet spot in the afternoon—and decide whether you can commit any of these to a regular workout routine. Then, decide how many workouts you can fit into a week—whether it’s three, four, five, or even seven—pick a time (or times), and add it to your calendar. Aim to commit to this workout schedule just as if they were one of those “must-do” appointments we mentioned above.
- Be patient with yourself – It’s important to keep sight of what you can realistically achieve in a day or in a week. If you can’t recruit help with time-consuming chores like doing the dishes, laundry, or cleaning, or if other commitments fill too much of your space already, give yourself some grace. Study your schedule, take one step at a time, and be ready to forgive yourself if it takes some trial and error.
Stake a Claim to the Space You Need
Just as time is precious, let’s face it: space is limited. It’s constantly taken over, and you need to remember you have as strong a claim to that space—at the gym, for example—as anyone. Also remember that even if space is limited, you don’t have to restrict your workout routine to only one place.
Consider what parts of your new workout schedule can be done with an:
- At-home workout – Maybe you have an exercise mat, a treadmill, an elliptical, or weights of your own; an at-home workout can be both effective and convenient.
- Outside workout – While the great outdoors doesn’t always offer the equipment some routines need, they certainly open up the available space. Feel the beneficial effects of moving from point A to point B, breathe deeply in the fresh air, and take in the scenery—especially if you need a change of it.
- Gym workout – Those with more ambitious goals may also need more space (and gear) with which to accomplish them. With access to a variety of exercise equipment, a gym workout at places like Chuze Fitness offers a comprehensive array of resources to meet the goals you’ll set for yourself.
Step #2: Assess Your Fitness Level and Set Goals
Before you put a new workout routine into practice, test your current fitness capabilities to identify which exercises, and which intensity, is best for you.
If you’re a workout enthusiast already, you might have some idea of your fitness levels and have a handle on goal-setting already. But if you’re still a novice or have been taking an extended break, it can help to start with the basics to assess where you are:
- Identify your target heart rate – Your target heart rate is usually about 50%–85% of your maximum heart rate, which is calculated as your current age subtracted from 220.1 Monitor your heart rate as you walk, jog, or run a mile. Determining how long it takes to reach the target rate for your age can help you understand how much physical exertion you should start with.
- Try push-ups and sit-ups – The number of repetitions you can perform of these basic physical exercises should give you an idea of your body’s current fitness capabilities.
- Try basic stretches – Sit with your legs straight out and extend your arms to your toes. Gauge the flexibility of your hamstrings, joints, and muscles, and get used to stretching because there are many benefits to warming up before a workout.2
Meeting with a Fitness Professional May Help to Identify Your Goals
To help you better customize your goals for your body’s unique needs, you may benefit from trying out classes taught by certified fitness professionals who can lead you through safe effective workouts while helping assess your fitness level.
Some questions to ask your self to help fine-tune your plan can include:
- Whether you’re looking for 5k or marathon training tips
- Whether you want to focus on weight loss or strength training
- If you simply want to maintain excellent general fitness goals for top health
Decide which fitness goal to work towards, and you may find yourself zeroing in on what type of workout routine works best for you. Cardio-heavy routines should prepare you for that 5K, whereas less frequent, micro workouts that include weight training and the proper nutrition may help you with the muscle growth you want.3
Step #3: Develop and Implement a Workout Routine Suited to Your Goal
Now that you know your body’s fitness level and you’ve decided on goals targeted to weight loss, building endurance, or strength gain, you’re ready to learn how to develop a workout plan.
Based on the time and space available and your individual goals and current fitness, you’ll want to select different activities to help you reach those targets. However, the two example routines below can get you started—and can be adjusted to fit your schedule as needed.
Example Routine for Weight Loss and Endurance
If you want to focus on weight loss and building endurance, then pick a routine that emphasizes cardiovascular exercise over strength training. For example, if you want to know how to build stamina, distribute your week as follows:
- 3-5 days of the week – Cardio. Incorporate 3-5 cardiovascular workouts during which you maintain your target heart rate over 20-40 minutes. Walking, jogging, spinning, swimming—pick your action and get your heart pumping. While working out, you may even be able to fit in a TV episode, read a chapter of your book, or explore our workouts in iChuze.
- 2-3 days of the week – Resistance and strength training. Pick a few exercises using free weights, bars, resistance bands, or exercise equipment. For each exercise, try performing 3-4 sets of up to 12 repetitions each. Settle on a challenging resistance.
- 5 days of the week – Stretching. Aside from the standard daily stretches, experts recommend mobility and flexibility exercises such as yoga or Pilates.3 Try out one of our fitness classes to add a dynamic element to your weekly routine.
In addition, be sure to rest your body for at least one day per week. The same goes for any routine that, alternatively, emphasizes strength training over cardio.
Example Routine for Building Muscle and Strength
If you’re looking to build muscle and increase your strength, your workout plan might look a little different. Try distributing your week this way:
- 2-4 days of the week – Resistance and strength training. Alternate focus across your different muscle groups over the days, and never exercise the same muscle group two days in a row. For example, try strength training your chest on Mondays, shoulders and triceps on Tuesdays, back and biceps on Thursdays, and legs on Fridays, and don’t forget to include your abdominals and forearms.
- 3-5 days of the week – Cardio. Try climbing stairs for added leg and glute strength training.
- 5 days of the week – Stretching is vital during strength training to maintain flexibility of your muscles and movement and decrease the chances of injury.
- At least one day of the week – Rest. As much as your muscles grow, they need time to repair and rebuild—which happens while we sleep. In addition to giving your body one or two days off per week, ensure you get enough sleep every night.3
Step #4: Record Your Routines, Track Your Meals, and Capitalize on Your Progress
While this step isn’t necessarily part of the routine itself, tracking your progress can go a long way toward keeping you motivated to push forward.
Use a notebook or your phone to track things like:
- The adjustments you make to your routines as the days progress.
- Your stats on treadmill, cycling, or elliptical workouts.
- The amount of weight you’re lifting and how much you increase resistance week after week.
- The different exercises you’re doing, and anything new you discover.
Additionally, you may find great benefits in tracking the macros of your meal plan. For example, if you’re trying to build muscle, you might wish to focus on protein. You may therefore wish to:
- Track the grams of protein you currently consume
- Determine the daily amount of protein you may need
- Consider meal supplements such as protein powder or creatine to assist in the rebuilding of your muscles
Regardless of how your meals play into your workout plan, remember to keep hydrated during workouts.p3
Get into Perpetual Motivation with Chuze Fitness
However you’ve decided to distribute your exercise activity, keep in mind that workout routines are meant to change and evolve with you—so if it’s time to level up, don’t be afraid to transform your routine into something new. And above all, remember to give yourself kindness as you adapt to new habits.
At Chuze Fitness, kindness is at the core of what we do. And we believe everyone should have the gym and community they need to develop an amazing workout routine. Whether you’re aiming to carve out some space for a new workout plan or want to join a small group training session, we’ll be cheering you on every step of the way. And once you’re in motion with Chuze, it’ll be hard to stop.
Join us and experience the Chuze Difference today.
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Understanding Your Target Heart Rate. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/understanding-your-target-heart-rate
- Mayo Clinic. Fitness Program: 5 steps to get started. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20048269
- Piedmont. How to create a workout plan for your fitness goals. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/how-to-create-a-workout-plan-for-your-fitness-goals
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