If you’re thinking about getting into the gym (or getting back into the gym), one of the most important things to do is to go in with a plan. Like the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” so create a fitness plan that you’ll enjoy and stick to it.
Making a fitness plan increases the odds that you’ll be consistent, and provides a roadmap for success that includes your gym sessions, rest days and measures your progress. As a guy with a busy schedule, I know fitting in gym time can be difficult, so I’ve got some tips to help you get going.
5. Reclaim your time
First off, let’s be real, how often do you want to work out? You don’t have to be a gym rat, fitting in three-hour gym sessions to get results. I recommend at least two days a week in the gym to keep your body on a routine, but find time that’s right for you and be mindful of what types of workouts you plan to do. You don’t have to go into full beast mode for each gym session, but if you’re not pushing yourself you’re holding yourself back.
Be mindful of what I call the “hidden factors.” These are things that add to your overall time, but may not be in the gym, like drive time to and from the gym, taking a shower, getting dressed and when your gym has the most traffic (there’s nothing worse than stopping your flow because there’s a line for the leg press). One of the benefits of Planet Fitness is that most of their locations are open 24 hours a day to allow flexibility with your schedule and on-site showers and lockers, which can help cut down on time spent on hidden factors.
4. Make a workout that will work out
Going to the gym doesn’t have to be a chore, but does require a certain amount of mental toughness. Make a routine that’s fun for you, but include exercises that push your entire body. If you’re not sure where your Achilles heel is, ask yourself these questions and test your body in the gym to find the answers:
Which do you train more: upper body or lower body?
Which is stronger: your bench press (push) or your row (pull)?
Which is stronger: your squat (quads) or your deadlift (hamstrings)?
This personal test can give you a good starting point. I recommend starting with the weaker sections of your body to get everything on a more even playing field — so don’t skip leg day! But while you’re at it, ask yourself why you’re avoiding certain muscle groups or certain exercises. Odds are, you’re avoiding something you really need to work on.
3. Create balance
Once you’ve decided how many days a week you intend to exercise and identified where your weaknesses are, use this information to create a balanced workout that incorporates a well rounded approach to your fitness. Making a fitness plan with exercises that compliment each other — like push-ups and pull-ups — can work wonders for visible progress and help ensure that you’re getting a full-body workout each week. If you’re unsure of how to build a balanced workout, try the PF 30-Minute Express Circuit at Planet Fitness. It combines 10 strength machines and 10 cardio-step stations for a full-body training session.
2. Know your Goal
Like I said before, your schedule should be a roadmap for success, but “success” looks different for everybody in the gym. So know where you’re going, so you can outline how you’ll get there. Do you want to lose belly fat? Do you want to look like a Super Saiyan? Do you want to be able to run that upcoming 5K without dying? Knowing your goal or goals will save you tons of time and headaches by allowing you to focus on building towards them, not just killing your body in the gym for the sake of sweating.
Simply put, if God needed to rest on the seventh day, what makes you too good to relax? Remember that you have a life outside the gym and work, and there’s nothing wrong with living your best life. Check your calendar regularly (at least once or twice a month) to see if there are any obligations that might conflict with your fitness plan. If there are, consider moving your workouts around that week so you can do both. For me, I know that on certain evenings I coach youth sports and have my daughters with me, so the gym isn’t at the top of my to-do list. So I find alternate days to workout and take those days to let my body recover.
Bottom line, if you want to see results, you have to work for them, and by creating a fitness plan that fits for your busy schedule will help you reach those goals faster and help keep you from falling off the path.
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set unafraid to take on topics head on. He now resides in Austin, TX and continues to create content on a daily basis.