How to Create (And Then Break!) an Effective Fitness Routine

fitness and weight loss planning

Mark Twain said: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” I’d add to that: “…and persevering!” We all have goals that get us thinking about fitness at certain time more than others. The trick is to find the tools and motivators that will keep the momentum going, once that first step is taken. Establishing a fitness routine is a great way to do this and maximize your efforts through a focused, goal-oriented approach.

Success in fitness is measured by long-term progress punctuated by short-term achievements. Translation: Celebrate the small stuff, then keep going! Routines create a great, practical path to follow, plus a guide for necessary adjustments. Once a victory (however small) is achieved, another step can and should be taken to challenge yourself even more.

That’s the tricky thing with fitness: we preach consistency in your attendance, efforts, and choices, but there will be breaks in your routine. And there will be times when your workout plan just isn’t cutting it anymore. Let’s tackle this concept to make sure you’re in control of the results that you work so hard to see!

Building a Beneficial Routine

There are 168 hours in a week, and at least a few should be dedicated to your health and wellness. Making your routine personal and goal focused will make it easier to follow and practically ensure that your efforts inside of the gym will be echoed outside of it. Here’s how to get started.

First: Carve Out The Time

View your schedule on a daily and weekly basis and look for gaps between your obligations and regular disruptions. This can feel incredibly hard, but it’s worth it! If you can adjust your mindset to assign high value to your workouts and healthy eating, all other aspects of your life will benefit. Book your workouts (and don’t skip them!) just like the dentist.

Rotate Your Workouts

Once your time is structured, designate a focus for each workout. In fact, make it two. Try to hit two body parts per day, such as shoulders and triceps or back and biceps. Fill out a calendar before you even go, and make sure to think head to toe, with equal time given to specific body parts, overall cardio, and functionality that affects your everyday. If your workout routine is too regular (running is good, but is that all you do?), some muscle groups may lag and adversely affect how your body moves, looks, and feel. Keep it varied.

Celebrate the Small Stuff

Your ultimate goal may be to lose 30 pounds for that wedding, but you better give yourself a fist pump when you shed the first 5! Just watch out for complacency or falling into bad habits. Reward yourself by pushing forward and losing more!

Work on Your Weaknesses

You probably already know your strengths and inherently reinforce them in your workouts. Make it a point to discover any weaknesses you may have (think dominant side, injury compensation, overall strength, balance and flexibility) so that you can give them more attention and make day-to-day tasks easier.

When to Break Your Pattern

guy hitting a wallWe have all heard the word (and possibly experienced) “plateauing.” It’s very common when a routine has been followed for such a long time that results slow and you hit a virtual wall. Don’t panic! This is likely a sign you should gravitate toward new types of workouts.

A great way to keep flexing proudly without getting stuck behind a barrier is to re-evaluate your routine and progress every 6 weeks. Assess yourself through pictures, changes in weight and waist measurements, and also increases in strength. If you need to burn more, but don’t have extra time, then focus more on total body workouts with minimal rest. If you are looking to continue to add size and strength, then work different body parts together. (For example: Instead of back and biceps, change it to back and triceps.) Always take note of what has progressed the least, and work out what is lagging more often, to create balance. No change equals no change!

Remember: Certain muscles will react quicker than others. Keep at it, be open to adjustments, and know that in the end, every step, rep, and press is progress.

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Ethan Smoorenburg is a 2015 Universe Welterweight Bodybuilding Champion, powerlifter, personal trainer, and writer working as a manager at Anytime Fitness in Lafayette, LA. He discovered his passion for writing at the age of eight when his poem “Spiders Everywhere” was published in his school’s newsletter. He is equal parts Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Scott, combining humor and wellness to create and encourage a balanced lifestyle. Ethan has a degree in English with a minor in Communications and believes that if you want to change the world, you must first be the example of the change you want to see.