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- ExRx: Exercise Adherence Techniques
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
- American Council on Exercise: Reaching Your Goals the SMART Way
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How To Design a Monthly Workout Schedule
Creating a monthly workout schedule can help you overcome obstacles to exercise on a regular basis. According to the website ExRx, 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within six months. A workout schedule gives you a goal for every workout, whether at home or at the gym. If you know what your plan is for the day, you can psych yourself up appropriately for the workout and have less chance of talking yourself out of exercising. A monthly workout schedule also helps you attain specific long-term goals, such as competing in a race or losing a specific amount of weight.
Set goals for the month. Aim for specific, concrete and attainable goals such as, "I want to get to the gym five times per week," or "I want to lose three pounds," or "I want to trim 10 seconds off each mile I run." Avoid making vague goals such as, "I want to become more fit." Write down the benefits that will come from adhering to your plan, suggests the American Council on Exercise, to increase adherence to your plan.
Plan a variety of exercises that can help you achieve your goals. Include both cardiovascular and strength training in your monthly plan, even if you are focused on cardiovascular events like running.
Check your calendar for the month. Identify potential conflicts with your workout intentions such as work travel, late meetings, family obligations or social events. Plan rest days of shorter workouts to coincide with these dates--for example, plan a rest day for a day you know the people from corporate are coming in for a big meeting and you will be exhausted by the end of the day.
Schedule in your strength training days. Plan to do a minimum of two non-consecutive days per week for 30- to 45-minutes of total body workouts, addressing all major muscle groups. More advanced lifters may do a split routine, and plan for three days a week, two body parts per day--such as shoulders and legs on Monday, back and biceps on Wednesday and chest and triceps on Friday.
Schedule your cardiovascular exercise days to occur between strength training days. Run, cycle, swim or perform another aerobic activity for a minimum of three days per week at a high intensity for 20 minutes. If you prefer more moderate cardio, plan for five 30-minute periods of brisk walking or light cycling. Overlap on strength training days if necessary.
Plan one or two days off. Choose your days off after your hardest workout days--perhaps one that includes both strength and cardio. Do not go longer than five days without a break; it will help you recharge muscles and prevent burnout.
Write your plans into your calendar. Treat the workouts as non-negotiable appointments.
If you are planning for a race, you will perform more cardiovascular activity than the minimum. Still include some sport-specific strength training two times per week and alternate high-intensity cardio days, like tempo or interval runs, with easier days.
Life inevitably gets in the way of the best plans. If you cannot fit in your workout planned for the day, do not give up entirely. Shift your rest day or resolve to skip a day and get right back on track on the next scheduled workout day.
Change your routine monthly to combat boredom and to challenge your muscles in new ways. This might involve changing workout days, the order of exercise or adding a new type of cardio activity.
Explore In Depth
- If you are planning for a race, you will perform more cardiovascular activity than the minimum. Still include some sport-specific strength training two times per week and alternate high-intensity cardio days, like tempo or interval runs, with easier days.
- Life inevitably gets in the way of the best plans. If you cannot fit in your workout planned for the day, do not give up entirely. Shift your rest day or resolve to skip a day and get right back on track on the next scheduled workout day.
- Change your routine monthly to combat boredom and to challenge your muscles in new ways. This might involve changing workout days, the order of exercise or adding a new type of cardio activity.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.