Okay, so we all want to exercise more, get in better shape, and reach those goals we've been talking about for years. But putting a gym schedule together and laying out a fitness plan is always easier said than done.
We all want to run a marathon or work on those abs, but how do we leap from running 5 miles to running 26 miles? How can we get rid of that body fat and reveal those hidden core muscles? It takes time and dedication, of course, but the first step is planning. Without an organized gym schedule and workout calendar, you most likely won't get very far.
In today's article, we explore the best way to organize exercises together, be they hip band workouts or cardio training, to create an effective gym schedule that will get you results (as long as you stick to it!)
How to make a workout plan and gym schedule
We all want to work out more, but we just need that added motivation and a little bit of expertise to get into shape. These days, it can be challenging to know where to even begin. With the neverending list of different workout plans and training routines, determining which ones are best for your goals can be tricky if you're not experienced!
That's why putting together a personalized workout plan is the best way to go. Before you can achieve that, though, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- What are your fitness goals and targets? Is it cardio, strength training, or something else?
- Is there a deadline to achieve your goals or targets? For example, is there a set day for a marathon coming up?
- How many minutes can you assign each day and each week to exercise?
- What equipment do you have access to? Free weights, resistance bands, etc.
- Can you go to the gym, do you like classes, or prefer working out at home?
- What exercises or sports do you enjoy?
- What motivates you to work out?
- Why do you want to workout?
Allow yourself some time to answer each of these questions before you create a workout plan. In doing so, you'll be able to tailor the routine to help you reach your goals in an enjoyable way that keeps you motivated throughout the weeks ahead.
Personalize your gym schedule
Once you've answered the questions (and found your motivation), take the following steps to create your tailored workout schedule:
- Set your fitness goals and determine a time frame in which you want to complete them.
- Using a calendar, set aside time each week for your exercise and training sessions.
- Test your fitness to give yourself a starting point concerning your goals. How far can you jog, or how many pounds can you press?
- Allocate different sessions and rest days throughout each workout week.
- Create workout plans for each day, based on your goals and current state of fitness.
- Start training, stick to the plan and track your fitness progress.
- As your fitness improves, reassess the training plan and increase the intensity of workouts.
- Stay motivated!
What is the best gym schedule?
Okay, so that's simple enough, right? But how do you know which exercises to include? Which day is for cardio, and which is for strength training? When should I have a rest day, or when should I go full force with a HIIT day?
Let's look at how to put your workout calendar together once you've established your goals and how much free time you have to exercise.
For practicality, we'll assume that you have time for five workouts a week, with two rest days included. The first thing is to decide how you're going to split those exercise days up. And remember, it's essential to find balance.
Three major exercise categories to include in your workout week:
- Cardio: these are aerobic exercises that get your heart beating faster, and your blood pumping harder. Cardio exercises include running, swimming, or cycling.
- Strength training: these are exercises designed to build muscle mass or increase muscle endurance. Strength training exercises include resistance band workouts, lifting free weights, or using a weight machine.
- Flexibility training: we always suggest including flexibility exercises in your gym schedule. These include stretches or resistance band exercises that allow you to increase your range of motion.
A balanced and healthy gym schedule should have elements of all three categories.
As a minimum, healthy adults should complete at least two and a half hours of aerobic activity once a week and two strength-training sessions per week. Cardio, flexibility, and strength training exercises all complement one another, so it's important not to skip them.
How much time you devote to these elements, however, will depend entirely on the fitness goals you set earlier. If you are training for a marathon, you need more cardio than strength training. If you're trying to build your biceps, incorporate more weight lifting sessions each week. However, you'll also benefit from flexibility training to avoid injury and strengthen your joints.
Distribute sessions across the week to give your body plenty of time to recover between challenging workouts. Don't cram in too many massive strength training workouts in a row; mix them up with cardio instead to avoid fatigue and injury.
Combine workouts on different days too. For instance, you can run in the morning and do strength training in the evening. You can also combine cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises through interval training or circuits.
Example weekly workout schedule
A full-body strengthening schedule would look like this, for example:
Day 1: Strength workout (Chest)
Day 2: Strength workout (Arms)
Day 3: Cardio (jogging) and flexibility exercises (resistance band stretches)
Day 4: Rest day
Day 5: Strength workout (legs) and flexibility exercises (Yoga)
Day6: Cardio (morning run) and strength workout (evening back, abs, and triceps)
Day 7: Rest day
Weekly workout routines
That's just a weekly outline, and once you've figured out which days are dedicated to which exercises, you can start building your actual workout routines for each training session. How far will you run on a cardio day? What movements will you focus on for chest day?
This is where you begin setting small goals, such as increasing the number of reps or the distance you can run. Breaking routines down like this will help you focus on the bigger picture while managing the smaller goals that need to be hit to reach those larger targets.
For each day, you then need to establish a workout routine. For example, if you're building a chest day plan, write down the different movements, such as chest flies, chest presses, and push-ups, that you'll be pushing through in the session. Then write down the number of reps and the number of circuits you'll be completing too.
Example chest training circuit
Light stretching and cardio warmup
- Resistance band chest stretch x 10
- Resistance band flies x 10
- Push-ups x 10
- Chest press x 10
Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat each exercise for 3 x circuits
You can tailor the sessions too, and easily create strength training circuits suited to your level of fitness and your goals. If you're not focusing solely on the chest, then include back and core exercises in the rotation. If you're looking to include cardio elements, then you could add star jumps or on the spot sprints.
How intense should my training schedule be?
Determine what intensity your workouts will be for each day. HIIT is a great way to include cardio and strength training elements in a short but challenging workout circuit. You'll burn fat and gain muscle quickly with HIIT, but it's also incredibly tough on the body.
If you plan to integrate High-Intensity Interval Training into your schedule, then rest days are an absolute must to keep your body in optimal condition.
Schedule a HIIT session on Monday to start your week strong, then on Tuesday, schedule lighter flexibility-focused sessions or light cardio sessions. Alternating intensity days gives your body time to recuperate before you put it through another round of HIIT, where you hit your maximum level of exertion.
You shouldn't schedule more than two or three HIIT sessions per week and do not schedule them back to back. Your body needs time to recover, or you could set yourself back in your training program. The same goes for other training elements too.
How to maintain a workout schedule
Once you've established your new training calendar, you'll need to fine-tune the plan and develop the individual elements as your fitness improves. Motivation is critical when trying to stick to a regular schedule! Missing too many sessions on the calendar not only makes the program a waste of time and energy, but it puts your training plan at risk also.
Staying motivated is the best way to stick to the schedule. To stay motivated, you need to keep your schedule varied and exciting. Your plans don't have to be weekly; they can be monthly or even longer. Set out long term goals and track your progress as you gain confidence and strength.
You can mix up gym sessions with home workouts, or join a running or cycling club to stay motivated for your cardio days. There are exercise classes, personal trainers, workout videos, and so many more ways to stay motivated.
The important thing is not to burn out. Pace yourself with low-intensity days and complete rest days, or your body will fatigue. You need variation, and you need motivation, or else your mind fatigues too!
Now that you've set a schedule, you need to stick to it!
Now you know how to piece together a personalized training schedule that will help you hit your fitness goals and targets. A customized workout set should include cardio, flexibility, and strength training exercises for a balanced weekly schedule. You can set your own routines, using interval training, resistance bands, or weight machines.
But once you've set that gym schedule, write it down, and physically mark each day on the calendar! Stick to it! After all, there's no reason to spend hours crafting the perfect schedule if you're going to lay in bed all day, is there?
Why not bookmark our gym schedule creation guide to help you hit your fitness goals?