How to design a fitness routine that works for you

If you’ve decided to start your fitness journey and be more active, congratulations! Not only will you be able to sculpt your body, but also feel confident in your own skin and improve your state of mind.

Whether you chose to go to the gym or work out at home by yourself, you are probably very excited and can’t wait to start, but, before your first session, it’s very important to add some structure to your workout plan and design a routine that works for you.

When building your workout routine, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my current level of physical fitness?
  2. What do I want to achieve by working out?
  3. What exercises or equipment are right for me?

If you don’t work with a personal trainer, building your own fitness routine can be a bit confusing and the main challenge comes from the fact that you don’t know exactly what exercises work for you. In many cases, people choose a routine recommended by their friends or by online influencers, but keep in mind that everyone is different and following the exact same path as someone else might not lead to the results you are expecting.

What is my current level of physical fitness?

First of all, building the right routine starts with understanding where you are now. If you’re a beginner with a sedentary lifestyle who walks less than 5,000 steps every day, going straight into intense exercises will be not only physically exhausting, but also discouraging.

There is no shame in admitting that you are a beginner, starting off slow and increasing exercise intensity gradually. In fact, it is actually more effective, because you will not overwork yourself from the first sessions, get muscle strains or inflict other injuries that require downtime.

However, if you are somewhat active or you occasionally work out, you can start with intermediate exercises because they will not be a major shock for your body.

What do I want to achieve by working out?

Not all fitness exercises are created equal. Depending on what you want to achieve by working out, you should adapt your routine:

  • Overall body toning and maintenance. You have the right weight, but you just want to tone your muscles, you can try steady-state cardio or Pilates, which engage all muscle groups and, as you increase intensity, you will get rid even of stubborn, lower belly fat.
  • Build muscle. If you are quite lean and would like to have more muscle mass, the two most effective ways of doing so are either weight lifting and CrossFit. Not only will these exercises make you curvier, but also stronger.
  • Lose weight overall. If you’re a bit overweight and are looking for a relatively easy workout to help you shed away those extra pounds and prepare your body for weight lifting, jogging is an excellent starting point. If possible, run outdoors as opposed to running on a treadmill to enjoy the benefits of fresh air. Another good option is swimming, which gives you a full body workout in as little as 30 minutes and can also work as a lighter alternative if jogging doesn’t work for you.  

Once you know what your goal is, you have to decide in what timeframe you would like to achieve it. The key to fitness achievement is setting attainable, measurable, relevant goals. Challenging yourself is a great way to push your limits and stay motivated, but a challenge that is too distant from your current level isn’t healthy. For example, you shouldn’t attempt to lose four pounds in a week, because it’s extremely difficult to do that and even if you do get there by overworking your body and starving yourself, you will end up putting those pounds back on. Instead, start slow, with one pound lost per week, which is healthier and more realistic. As you progress through your fitness journey, you can add more exercises and increase their intensity if you need a bigger challenge.

What exercises and equipment are right for me?

No matter how motivated you are about starting your fitness plan, motivation alone is not enough to turn you into the best possible version of yourself. For that, you will need the right exercises and the right equipment. Whether you want to sculpt your arms, abdomen or thighs, there are many ways you can do that. Some, like Pilates, require nothing more than a placemat and you can do them at home. Others, like dumbbells, weights or benches, require an investment. So, which one is the best? It’s simple: the one you love.

Fitness is hard work, but you also need to enjoy yourself to stay motivated. If there is more than one way to reach your goals, choose the one you love most. If the thought of waking up at 5 am to go for a jog stresses you out and you don’t feel the slightest enthusiasm about it, then don’t go jogging and do Pilates at home instead. If doing Pilates at home sounds too boring and unmotivating, join the gym instead. There are many ways to stay in shape, there are always options, and having a routine that actually makes you feel excited can make the difference between achieving your fitness goals and quitting halfway.

Last, but not least, remember that your fitness journey isn’t complete without healthy nutrition. Harsh diets aren’t recommended, but try to cut sweets, processed foods and fizzy drinks as much as possible and replace them with fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.