On Your Health

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How to Create a Workout Calendar

Since it's mid-February, you might be feeling far away from New Year's Day and the resolutions you set that day. Especially now, when healthy eating is difficult due to the Valentine's Day treats and goodies all around you and the chilly weather making you feel like sitting in front of a cozy fire instead of heading to the gym. But now is the ideal time to plan your fitness goals and establishing healthy habits to carry with you into summer's bathing suit season!

One of the best ways to establish a new habit is to write it down. As you look forward, consider creating a workout calendar to help keep your healthy habits on track. Here are a few of our favorite tips to build an effective game plan.

A workout calendar in 3 easy steps

1. Determine how much time you can devote to exercise.

We spoke with YMCA Healthy Living Center’s Health & Wellness/Membership Director, Sara Robinson-Holmes, and asked for her recommendations on both creating a workout calendar and workouts to include. The first thing you should do when mapping out your workout plan is to determine how much time you can spend working out each week.

Robinson-Holmes recommends, “If you can do an hour a day, that’s awesome. If you have a wife, three kids, and two jobs, then maybe you can only do thirty minutes every other day. That’s fine, too. Whatever your time commitment is, developing the most efficient workout is crucial.”

If you have never followed a workout plan before or are just beginning your fitness journey, be sure to work your way gradually into your new routine. Too much, too soon may lead to burnout and can demotivate your healthy living initiative. Gradually increasing the number of days you exercise or the length of your workouts will continue to challenge, but not overwhelm you.

2. Create an efficient workout plan.

According to Robinson-Holmes, the key to a successful workout calendar is to follow these steps:

Step 1: Determine the type of program you want to adhere to: sets, repetitions, etc.

Step 2: Pick one exercise from each of the following categories for a full-body workout.

·         Quads: squats, lunges, one-legged squats or box jumps

·         Buttocks and hamstrings: hip raises, deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, good mornings or step ups

·         Push (chest, shoulders and triceps): overhead press, bench press, incline dumbbell press, push-ups or dips

·         Pull (back, biceps and forearms): chin ups, pull-ups, inverse body weight rows or dumbbell rows

·         Core (abs and lower back): planks, side planks, exercise ball crunches, mountain climbers, jumping knee tucks or hanging leg raises

Step 3: Determine how long your workout will take you.

If you have: 45 minutes – 1 hour

·         Try to complete 15 – 25 sets of total exercise

·         Don’t forget to include a 5 – 10 minute warm-up, as well as 5 – 10 minutes of stretching post-workout.

If you have: less than 45 minutes

·         Consider circuit training.

Robinson-Holmes says, “This is the most effective way to burn fat while exercising. A circuit requires you to do one set for every exercise, one after the other, without stopping. After you’ve done one set of each exercise in succession, you then repeat the process two, three, or four more times.”

3. Fill out your calendar

Whether you use a personal planner, the calendar on your phone, or download a blank calendar from the web, the important thing is to write down your workout plans and goals. Set reminders on your phone to prepare for the next day’s workout, pack your gym bag the night before or find a friend who is willing to hold you accountable for completing your workout.

As you plan ahead for your fitness resolutions, remember, you can do this. With a little planning and commitment, you can accomplish your fitness goals for 2018!