How to Create an Exercise Program in 5 Easy Steps

Maybe you’ve been in a gym before but never really know what to do. Or maybe you thought you knew what to do, but conflicting opinions on what you REALLY should do make you not even want to try. These tips will help you to develop a general wellness program. Although everyone’s goals will be different, this should guide you to the correct format, skipping the confusion.

Step 1: Create a Goal 

This step often gets overlooked. Ultimately, if you want specific goals, you have to make a specific plan. Is your ultimate goal to improve strength, power, endurance, physique, competition, or something else? Once you decide your general goal, get it even more specific. Many of my clients have goals to manage stress, improve strength, and reduce risk of injury with functional tasks including lifting, reaching, and squatting to name a few. A specific goal you could write for that is to be able to lift 100 pounds from the ground, 5 times, without 0/10 back pain in 6 weeks. Make sure your goal has a time limit, specific numbers, and, is realistic. This step will, ultimately, build the ground work for your program.

Step 2: Determine Personal Factors

Do you have access to a gym? If not, what do you have at home that will support your health? How many days a week can you realistically set aside time to exercise? What activities do you actually enjoy or genuinely want to learn more about? What activities do you hate? Asking yourself these questions help to build your schedule and what type of exercise will be best for you. For general wellness, it doesn’t matter the exact type of exercise you do, so pick something you love! You can always learn new things in the future. You just need to get started.

Step 3: Set up a Schedule

For optimal wellness, you should aim to move your body 150 minutes a week at an easy pace (you can carry on a conversation while exercising) or 75 minutes at a hard pace (out of breath where you can’t carry on a conversation). If you have access to a gym and choose to do strength training, aim to workout 2x a week. You can split the minutes as much as you need! For example, you can go for a walk for 10 minutes, 3x a day and still meet the goal of 30 minutes that day. Lastly, pick one day to rest!

Step 4: Choose 3-5 Movements

You don’t have to learn every exercise in history when you start a program. Focus on learning 3-5 exercises really well! Some examples you can choose from are a deadlift, squat, kettle bell swing, lunge, walking, jump rope, boxing, participating in a sport, etc. Once you determine where your baseline is, just add 10% to it each week! So if you deadlift 45 pounds on week one, try to lift 50 pounds the next week! For general strength try to perform 3 sets of 8-12 and rest in between sets for at least 1 minute.

Step 5: Get Moving!

Don’t overthink it. Just get moving and watch how your stress levels, sleep schedule, and health slowly begin to improve. If you want more specific, individualized training or have an injury that needs to be addressed, call a physical therapist to get you on the right track.

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