How to Set Up a Workout Plan

Three Methods:Setting and Meeting Your GoalsExercising For Weight LossBuilding Muscle

Starting a workout plan is not easy, but it's the first step in making an effort to change your life. Before you start your new workout plan, you need to determine why you're working out. Do you want to build muscle, lose weight, tone up, or simply maintain your health? Your focus area will determine the type of workout you should do. It's important to focus on your goals, not everyone else's. Everyone is different, meaning your workout journey will be different from everyone else's.

Method 1
Setting and Meeting Your Goals

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    Make a workout schedule and stick to it. Time management is key to accomplishing any goal, and your workout routine is no different. Pick a time of day that works best for you; do morning workouts if you enjoy waking up early, or schedule or gym visits on the way home from work if that better fits your schedule. Whatever schedule you decide on, it is important that you stick to it.
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    Hold yourself accountable. Encourage yourself to stick to your workout plan. If you pay in advance for a fitness class, you'll be more likely to attend. You could also schedule workouts with other people (friends, trainers, your significant other) as a motivator.
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    Reward your accomplishments. Set short term and long term goals, and award yourself upon reaching those. A few examples would be getting yourself a spa day after sticking to your workout plan for 3 weeks, or treating yourself to a vacation for completing 6 months of your workout plan.[1]
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    Set realistic expectations and time-frames. It is important to understand that results take time and dedication. Remember that this is a new lifestyle, and if you stay on track, you will begin to see results.
    • For example, it's unrealistic to expect to lose twenty pounds in one week. Trying extreme workout and diet plans to achieve unrealistic goals can be dangerous to your health.[2]
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    Make it fun. Joining a dance class, playing a sport, or turning your workout into a game or competition with family and friends can make your transition into exercise easier and more enjoyable. When our brains relate exercise to something fun, it becomes more enjoyable to do.
    • Some of the most popular workout classes include hip-hop dance, Zumba, yoga, and kick-boxing. There are classes at all levels, so don't be afraid to try something new. These classes are always taught by professionals to give you the instruction and encouragement that you need. Go online to find classes near you.
    • Join a community basketball league or volleyball team. These team sports are great for building motivation and introducing your body to exercise. Go online to see how you can get involved.
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    Turn exercise into a habit. Don't find excuses not to exercise, stick to the workout schedule that you've planned. It's commonly said that it takes three weeks to develop a new habit, so be strict with yourself during the first 3 weeks of your workout plan. The first few weeks are going to be the toughest, but once you hit the three-week mark, your new exercise habit will start to become easier.[3]
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    Don't quit. Working out can be tough, following a diet can be challenging, but don't give up! Mistakes happen, so don't punish yourself when they do. Stay positive, and stick to your new lifestyle as closely as possible. Allow yourself a few days for fun and rest, but push yourself to maintain the workout schedule you've established.[4]

Method 2
Exercising For Weight Loss

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    Focus on cardio exercises if your primary goal is to lose weight. Cardio is meant to boost your metabolism and get your heart pumping, both of which attribute to fat loss. Popular cardio exercises include running, jogging, using the elliptical, and jumping rope. There are also many cardio focused classes, such as Zumba and Aerobics, that can serve as a nice introduction to the world of fitness.
    • Ideally, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio every day. If you're just beginning, start with three days a week. After two weeks, increase your workouts to four days a week. As soon as your body adjusts to the frequency of your workouts, add another day. Don't forget to allow your body to rest 1-2 days per week.
    • Include variety in your cardio exercises. Changing your routine and targeting different muscles will give your workouts better results. For example, do your cardio on the treadmill on Day 1, combine jumping jacks and running in place for your cardio on Day 2, and do your cardio workout on the elliptical machine on Day 3.
    • Warm up by stretching before you exercise to prevent injury.[5]
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    Add strength training to your workout for the best results. Strength training for weight loss includes exercises that use free weights (dumbbell curls, arm lifts), weight machines (leg press, roman chair), and body weight training (push-ups, squats, and ab crunches). Although cardio should be your biggest focus, including simple strength training into your workouts will allow your body to replace fat with muscle.
    • There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced strength training exercises. Determine your experience level, and then decide which exercises to include in your workout. If you're a beginner, starting with simple strength training, such as push-ups, ab crunches, lunges, squats, and dumbbell curls is recommended.
    • Because different exercises work different muscles, include a variety of exercises to achieve best results. For example, do lunges and squats, as opposed to just lunges. Do ab crunches and ab curls instead of regular sit-ups.[6]
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    Count calories to better control your diet. To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Be aware of your caloric intake, and try to limit yourself to 2,000 calories a day.
    • For example, if you burn 500 more calories than you eat every day for a week, you will lose roughly 1-2 pounds that week. That equates to about 30 minutes per day of high intensity cardio exercise.
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    Eat healthier food. Dieting can be difficult, but if you're able to control what you eat, you'll see better results from your workout. Replace unhealthy snacks, such as chips and candy, with fresh fruits and vegetables. Replace burgers and pizza with lean meats, like skinless chicken breast and salmon. Do your best to avoid processed foods altogether.[7]
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    Drink a lot of water. Drinking water is the best thing you can do for your body. It flushes out toxins, carries nutrients to your cells and organs, and keeps you hydrated. Not only is dehydration is harmful to your health, it can also slow down your weight loss process.
    • It is recommended to drink 8 glasses of water per day. [8]

Method 3
Building Muscle

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    Build muscle by focusing your workout plan on strength training. Strength training includes exercises that use free weights, weight machines, resistance training, and body weight training. The specific exercises you do will be determined by your experience level. Figure out how much weight you feel comfortable lifting, and stop an exercise if it is too difficult.[9]
    • Workouts may include exercises such as barbell squats, dumbbell curls, bench pressing, calf raises, and pull ups.
    • 3 days of strength training per week is a good place to start. Your body is going to be using new muscles and will need more time to rest.
    • To build muscle, you should select a weight with which you can complete at least 8 reps, but not more than 12. (Rep means repetition. 8 reps would mean lifting the same weight 8 times). If you cannot do 8 reps, the weight is too heavy. If you can easily do more than 12 reps, the weight is too light. The goal is to challenge yourself, not hurt yourself.[10]
    • Always warm up and cool down. Injury is more likely when your muscles are stiff, which is why warmups and cool downs are so important. Stretching before and after you exercise is a great way to loosen up your muscles. Walking before a run or a jog is a nice way to ease into your workout. Sitting in a sauna or taking a hot bath after a workout are also recommended for those who are strength training.
    • As a safety precaution, it is recommended to have a spotter while strength training. A spotter is someone who is there to make sure you don not drop any weights on yourself, or injure yourself in any way.[11]
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    Tone your body. Toning consists of building muscle, and having a low enough body fat percentage so that this muscle can be seen. As you lose fat and build muscle, you will begin to look more toned. Aim to do 30 minutes of cardio per day, as well as 3 days of strength training per week to achieve the best results.
    • An exercise routine to tone your body will consist of equal parts strength training and cardio. In your workout, include a combination of cardio exercises - like running, doing jumping jacks, or getting on the elliptical - and strength training exercises - like doing ab crunches, push ups, squats, lunges, and dumbbell curls. Combining these types of exercises in every workout will lead to a more toned physique.[12]
    • You should start off by doing 3 repetitions of 12 for all of your strength training exercises. For example, do 12 lunges, rest for 10 seconds, do your second rep of 12 lunges, rest for 10 seconds, and do your last rep of 12 lunges. This should be done for every strength training exercise you do. Try to do at least 5 different strength training exercises per workout.[13]
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    Add variety to your workouts. Alternate the focus of your workouts to give each area a break. An example would be doing core exercises on Mondays, lower body exercises on Wednesdays, and upper body exercises on Fridays.
    • Although they work different muscles, squats, lunges, and kicks are all lower body workouts. Rotating these exercises will benefit your workouts.
    • Always give yourself days to rest! Your body won't function properly if it is overworked or injured, so allow your muscles to recover at least 1-2 days per week. [14]
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    Follow a high protein, high calorie diet. Certain foods will help your body gain muscle. You'll want to up your caloric intake with foods that contain good calories.
    • Examples of "good" caloric foods are lean meats, eggs, vegetables, and whole grains. Examples of bad caloric foods are breads and pastries, fried foods, hamburgers, and ice cream.[15]
    • Protein is an important part of your diet. The recommended amount of protein intake per day is 1 gram of protein per pound. For example, if you weight 200 pounds, consume 200g of protein.[16] Some foods that contain healthy amounts of protein are eggs, yogurt, steak, and halibut.
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    Drink water. Drinking water is a key element of every workout routine and every diet, so be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. The more you sweat, the more water you'll need to replenish your body.


  • Having a workout buddy can help make the process more successful.
  • Get a personal trainer to help you determine your ideal exercise regiment.


  • Consider consulting a doctor before starting any workout plan

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Categories: Motivation to Exercise