How to build a workout program

Is Your Workout Plan Working For You?

Sure, you lift some weights, run or stream your favorite class now and then. Or maybe you’re powering through tortuous hours of burpees and jump squats every day. But are you sure you’re building an effective workout program? Having spent a decade and a half in fitness with a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science, I can single-handedly say that the biggest hurdle we all deal with in achieving results is a lack of programming.

So what is a “workout program”? It’s simply a plan that you must follow and execute patiently in order to get the results you want. Below, I’ve outlined some simple steps you can take to build a highly effective workout program for yourself, getting you the results you want as efficiently as possible. And no, burpees are not required! 

Step 1: Build Your Workout Plan 

So, what should your workout include? There are so many ways to exercise—you can train in short bursts, longer, less frequent workouts, or a mixture of the two. You can use weights, kettlebells, resistance bands or bodyweight to get things done effectively. But the one thing you absolutely need in your workout is strength training

Strength training is essential because when applied correctly, it can help you avoid injuries, alleviate stubborn elbow, neck, knee or back pain, build strength and overall physical ability, and of course, lose weight and become leaner. Simply incorporating strength training into your workout program will give you an edge in fitness and health.

Another crucial and often overlooked element of a solid workout program is movement patterns. Make sure you’re strength-training your body in pushing (like push-ups or presses), pulling (like pull-ups or rows), squatting, hinging (like kettlebell swings, or deadlifts) and locomotion (mobility drills, bear crawls, etc.). 

Once you’ve created a workout routine that incorporates strength training and motion, you can move on to step two! 

Step 2: Add Consistency & Progression 

Consistency is crucial in any workout program. But trying the same moves, lifting the same weights, and doing the same number of reps every day isn’t going to work. That’s where progression comes in. As you train, make sure you add on additional resistance to keep yourself challenged and engaged. For instance, if you begin lifting 10 pounds, you should eventually graduate to 15, then to 20, etc. If you can do five push-ups now, eventually you should be doing 10. 

If you employ strength training, movement, and progression into your workout program, you can plan out your schedule however you want: twenty minutes daily, thirty minutes every other day, sixty minutes twice a week, etc. The key is to make sure that your workout safely engages the muscles enough to facilitate change, that it’s consistent enough for you to progress and that it challenges and engages every movement pattern to cover all muscle groups.  

Step 3: Evaluate Your Success

How do you know when it’s working? Set goals and follow your progression. Let’s say you were able to do two push-ups, and now you can do four. You’ve now gained more ability and strength! When you see that type of progress, you will also see physical change as well—you’ll be looking and feeling fitter, stronger, and all-around better. 

Step 4: Stick with it

It will not always be easy. There will be days when you’ll feel exhausted or unmotivated, and other days when you will be emotional or perhaps even hopeless. The goal is to make sure that when you do feel this way, you use your body—exercise, movement—to get out of a rut or a bad mood. I can promise you that no matter how you feel at a given moment, the moment right after you finish your workout you will feel significantly better. You will become more motivated, creative, inspired, hopeful, and energized. Believe me. 

I urge you to consider your goals, not just physical ones but also mental and spiritual ones. Find your strength, your will, your calm. Find yourself through the most natural and organic thing there is—human movement. 

So, ready to start building out your workout program?

It can be overwhelming, but it gets so much easier once you start. The important thing to know is that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula or miracle workout that works for everyone. But as long as you use these fundamental basics covered in this article to build your program, your training will help you progress and achieve any and all of your goals. In the end, fitness should make you stronger. Physically, you deserve the right to feel capable and powerful and able-bodied. Remember to compare yourself only to yourself and take full pride in your newfound abilities to move and experience your body pain-free.  

Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrity trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a masters degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing, and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx and Epoch Times.

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