How to Make an Exercise Schedule

Too swamped with work, family, and life responsibilities? Do you struggle with fitting your workouts into your busy schedule, yet feel anxious about missing your exercise sessions and meeting your fitness goals? How do we get out of this bind? Fitting in your strength training and cardiovascular workouts takes careful planning. Dwell less and take action instead. Following the steps outlined in this article, you'll save time and get closer to meet your fitness goals.


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    Select a time for a weekly planning session. In order to locate pockets of time for each upcoming week, get your calendar out; you won't need more than 15 minutes to organize your schedule. To keep yourself reminded of the time you've designated, make sure this information is available on the calendar you're most likely to look at daily.
    • Your calendar preference might be your Google calendar, your personal calendar on your phone, or the good old paper version. Other suitable forms to plan a weekly schedule include using a PDA, day planner, or spreadsheet.
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    Record all of your obligations for the week. Fill in everything you can think of that requires your time.
    • Do you or someone in your family have a dentist appointment? An appointment with a hairstylist? A project to complete?
    • Record it all.
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    Look at the pockets of available time between activities or appointments. This is where you'll schedule your daily workout routines.
    • Highlight your open windows of time. Identify varying time slots in order to tailor your workouts to the available time you have. The more time you have, the better. No matter what time slots you have, there are resources available to fit your lifestyle:
      • 60 minutes or more?
      • 50 minutes
      • 40 minutes
      • 30 minutes
      • 20 minutes
      • 10 minutes
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    For optimal results, schedule 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times per week. Many people find cardiovascular exercise a daunting task because they try to get in way too much cardio. That's right – too much! To achieve most fitness goals, you'll want to do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio three times per week at your target heart rate. This means that you can get yourself changed, sneakers on, and complete your cardio workout in a total of 30 to 40 minutes!
    • Be sure to pick something you're willing to do. Without choosing what you enjoy doing, you can have a hard time getting motivated to do cardio.
    • Write down "cardiovascular exercise" in time slots that give you 30 to 40 minutes of free time. Go ahead, fill in 3 of these slots:
      • If your knees bother you, choose a stationary bike, an elliptical machine, or go for a swim.
      • Is a brisk walk or run in your neighborhood appealing?
      • How about those stairs at the office? Walk up and down for the allotted time.
      • Do you prefer a class at a local club or town hall?
      • A video in your living room?
      • Don't know what you like? Try some different options and find what you are most likely to stick with.
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    Schedule 30 minutes of strength training exercise at least three times per week. Taking that first step is often the toughest. Make yourself accountable by signing up for a personal training session or partnering with a friend. 30 to 40 minutes of strength training is optimal; however, you can fit some exercises in as little as 10 minutes if you're prepared to optimize those short bursts of free time.
    • Have a set of dumbbells ready to go under your desk.
    • Throw some tubing or bands in a desk drawer for easy access.
    • Bookmark some interesting workouts on YouTube.
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    Optimize with three 30 minute workouts. If you do choose ten minute blocks, be sure to fit three of these short workouts in on one day.
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    Look your schedule over.
    • Have you fit in 3 sessions of cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes each in your week?
    • How did you do with strength training? Have you scheduled at least three sessions of 30 minutes?
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    Stick with your schedule for the week. Following through with your exercise plan will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can tweak your routine next week if necessary.
    • When you've completed each workout, check it off on your calendar, PDA, cell phone, etc.
    • Notice what works for you and what doesn't so you can make changes when planning day comes around again.
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    Repeat each week. By sticking with a planning day and creating a schedule each week, you're more likely to stick with your plan and reach your goals.
    • At the end of each week, note what worked and what needs to be changed.
    • If your plan worked well for you this week, repeat. If not, make the necessary changes.


  • Stick with your plan for the week.
  • If you are looking for a video to get yourself started, check out the following YouTube or Netflix for free exercise videos. Free workout plans can also be downloaded from different sites.
  • Often your local town will offer a series of fitness classes at an affordable price.
  • Check your local Craigslist or Freecycle for inexpensive cardio equipment. Or ask your neighbors or family members if they have equipment they're no longer using or need.


  • Use proper form when doing strength training exercises to avoid injury.
  • Give muscles adequate rest between workouts. Two days is optimal for muscle building and repair.
  • Always check with your physician before starting any exercise routine. This is especially important where you have been sick, if you're pregnant, or you have medical conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Calendar, PDA, diary, cell phone, etc.
  • Exercise gear (if needed)

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