How to determine your fitness plan

Setting an efficient training schedule

Making the decision to get fit is one thing, but choosing which fitness programme to follow is quite another. There is a huge choice of workouts and fitness plans out there, but if you’re clear in terms of your fitness goals and know exactly what you want to achieve, it does make it easier to figure out what’s best for you.

Have a plan

It’s so important to be clear on what you want. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you just looking to just get fit and increase your sense of wellbeing? Do you want to run a half marathon? Are you keen on building muscle tone or is it a beach body you’re after? The answers to questions like these will have a huge impact on what kind of fitness plan you should choose. For instance if running is the aim, then a running club or a training plan for a certain race distance is definitely the place to start for you. If it’s muscle tone you’re after, then a gym and a personal trainer might be your best bet. Whatever you elect to do, make sure you have a check up with your GP if you haven’t done any exercise for a while, or you have any long-term health issues.


Aerobic training

If you want to drop a few pounds then you’re probably looking for something that has a high calorie and fat burning potential and that means looking at aerobic training. For instance running can burn off around 500 calories as hour while high intensity cycling for 60 minutes can zap upwards of 800 calories. Aerobics classes or an hour on the elliptical trainer can account for 600 calories and dance classes aren’t too far behind with around 500 calories an hour. Interval or circuit training is a terrific way of getting a full body workout with a variety of different exercises completed on a loop for set intervals. And for the more time-pressured, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) might be the thing for you. A mere 20 minutes of activity can burn around 300 calories and provide a full body workout, although do bear in mind that you will need to have a good fitness level before you can start HIIT.

Aerobic exercise will enhance your cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, burn fat and just make you feel good.  

Strength training

Resistance or strength training is another effective way of building muscle tone and burning fat. The use of weights, weight machines, body weight, resistance balls or resistance bands in the gym or at home, really puts the muscles to work and can target specific parts of the body. A 60 minute workout with kettle bells, dumbbells, resistance bands and hand weights could burn around 500 calories and crucially elevate metabolic levels so that you continue to burn calories after your workout has finished.  The more muscle you develop, the more energy your body is able to burn. Some people worry that building muscle tone means turning into a body builder. It doesn’t. A toned muscle is simply defined and very different from the over-developed muscles of body builders, so don’t panic.

If you want to strengthen and build your muscles whilst also improving your all-round fitness, then cross fit training might be the best plan for you. It offers a full body workout which includes aerobic exercise, strength training, gymnastics and core training. The workouts are circuit based and varied, incorporating squats, pull ups, lifts, weights, sprints and sit ups to name but a few. Crucially it’s designed to offer a comprehensive fitness challenge and make you an all rounder.

Remember that pilates and yoga are also forms of weight resistance training, but instead of conventional weights, they use body weight to strengthen muscles and joints. This might be more appealing to those among you who shy away from a gym a environment.

All of these training regimes will burn fat, lower blood pressure, build muscle, strengthen joints and bone density and enhance flexibility and mobility.

Core strengthening 

Remember that a strong core is at the heart of so much that is exercise based. A strong core will enhance your back and pelvic muscles and keep your hips flexible too. Specific classes and workouts are available, but you might want to think about incorporating specific exercises like the abdominal plank, the bridge, knee and leg raises and the abdominal crunch into your regular sessions.

Choose a fitness plan you enjoy

Whatever you choose to do it’s so important that you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy your chosen activity the chances are you will swiftly become de-motivated and lose interest. Those people who are successful at keeping fit tend to be those who love their workouts and crucially the results they bring.

Another factor to consider is whether you want to enjoy a group dynamic while you get fit, or whether you prefer to do it on your own. Some people need the motivation and support of others, while some prefer their own fitness company. It is entirely up to you, but make sure you choose the things that are most likely to make you happy while you work out.

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