10 Tips for Creating a Fitness Plan
Since there’s more to getting in shape than lifting heavy things and running in circles, we asked trainer Justin Tate from Fitness Together for some tips. Listen up beginners! His advice can jumpstart you on a path to total fitness—and help you steer clear of some classic rookie mistakes.
Interview by Brian Beise.
1. Start with an assessment.
This is key to creating the right plan for you. A trainer can test your strength and endurance and measure your waist, hips, chest, and body fat. That information will help you determine where to start and allow you to track your progress.
2. Set goals.
When it comes down to it, the vague goal of “getting in shape” won’t keep you motivated in the long term. Set specific goals, like an increase in strength or a smaller measurement. If you set a goal and work toward it, you should see changes within 6-8 weeks.
3. Be accountable.
Some days exercise falls very low on our “to-do” list. Get some accountability to keep you on track to meet your goals. Pay up front for a month of appointments with a trainer so that skipping hurts your wallet. Or get a gym buddy who will call and text if you don’t show up.
4. Start with strength.
Building lean muscle tissue should be your first target because it increases your energy and can protect your body from injury as you work toward your goals. Love running and aerobic exercise? You will be amazed at the way strength training can improve your speed. Building lean muscle tissue through resistance training also helps boost your metabolism to promote fat loss.
5. Do it right.
Make sure your form is correct in every exercise you perform. Poor mechanics will make each rep less rewarding, and can lead to injuries over time. Master good mechanics before you increase intensity.
6. Work smart.
There are a lot of ways to waste time and energy in a gym. Opt for movements that work out multiple muscle groups, and make sure your routine is efficient and balanced.
7. Work hard.
Choose the fitness plan that you want, but also the one that you need. There are ways to make your workout fun, but don’t shy away from the weak spots in your routine.
8. Mix it up.
It’s easy to get in a routine at the gym and do the same exercises every visit. Unfortunately, your body will adapt over time. Varying your exercises can keep your body guessing, responding, and developing. Try increasing the intensity of your sets, attending fitness classes, or working out with someone who has a different routine.
9. Be consistent.
Eight hours of exercise in a week won’t do much if you don’t get back to the gym for a month. Sticking with it is vital to your progress. With just a few hours a week, you will see improvement—but that’s only if you’re consistent.
10. Intensify over time.
Whether you’re doing two hours a week or six, your progress will plateau unless your routine progresses along with your fitness. Increase the intensity, give an extra hour, look for new ways to challenge yourself.