Have you made a New Year's resolution this year that you've already broken? Perhaps you haven't even started it yet? It's okay; I get it. This year was supposed to be your year, but perhaps something got in your way - work hours, special equipment, the social anxiety that comes with working out in public, the inability to find the right workout videos - am I ringing any bells?
For me, the momentum of the new year (and the 6 month wedding deadline - yikes!) was enough to get me through almost two weeks of daily exercise before fizzling out, even though I haven't met my goals. Now, I know I'm not the only one doing this. Each January, tons of people flood into gyms to fulfill annual resolutions or to work off some holiday weight, but after the first few weeks of grueling labor without visible progression, the gyms start clearing out and at-home workouts become less and less frequent. But why is it that people have such a hard time sticking it out?
Maybe you've started a workout that's a bit above your physical limit, or your workout requires equipment you don't have access to. Maybe your goal involves a huge lifestyle change that's been hard to get the hang of, or maybe a gym membership isn't an option for you financially. The fact of the matter is, each person has different physical capabilities, workout resources, and schedules, and to top it all off, everyone's goal is incredibly unique. There is not currently and never will be just one lifestyle change that works for everyone, so the trick is finding out your own personal system to achieving your goals.
Step One: Know your goals.
While it's important to create a workout that targets all individual muscle groups, you may have a specific region that you'd like to pay special attention to toning down, or even a specific goal measured in inches or pounds.
My personal goals include slimming down my abdominal area before my wedding, working on my cardio, strength, and improving my eating habits.
Step Two: Set your schedule.
Decide how many days per week you will be devoting to your workout. If you have a specific goal in pounds or inches, you can use an online weight loss calculator like the one below from FitWatch to give you a general idea as to how many calories to burn per day and how many days per week you should work out in order to achieve your goal.
Step Three: Learn how to create muscle groups.
Even with a gym membership and access to the proper equipment, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. Learning which muscle groups to exercise together can help you to pinpoint the perfect routine. The key is knowing how many days per week you're able to commit to your workout.
If your schedule only allows for exercise one day out of the week, then this step is fairly simple; you will want to spend your limited amount of time on a full body routine, and find exercises that require you to work out multiple muscle groups simultaneously. For a two-day schedule, consider dividing your days between upper- and lower-body workouts, respectively.
For a longer routine, you'll want to learn how to divide your time wisely, while giving each muscle group the two days of rest needed to rebuild after an intensive workout. Some common muscle group combinations for a three-day routine include:
|Day 1: Chest & back
Day 2: Arms & legs
Day 3: Abs & glutes
|Day 1: Abs & arms
Day 2: Chest & glutes
Day 3: Legs & back
For a four-day workout, feel free to incorporate a full-body routine to your schedule, keeping in mind that you should allow each muscle about two days of rest before reworking.
If you choose to devote five or more consecutive days to your workout, you may want to spend a full day on abs, another on arms, then chest, back, legs, and butt. There are also split routines for intensive strength-training, which you can read more about here.
Be sure to keep your goals in mind while molding your routine, paying special attention to incorporating these target areas often, but once again not without proper rest periods in between.
Step Four: Create your calendar.
Be sure to create a calendar to keep track of your new workout plan! There are plenty of free applications to use; I enjoy the free Google Calendar browser extension for Chrome, which can be used to easily sort your workout and other tasks into custom folders. I'm also a big fan of Todoist, a free to-do list-scheduling program that also tracks your productivity rate! Whatever you decide, be sure to find something that will keep you motivated and organized!
I hope this guide has been super-informative in helping you to DIY your own workout! If you have any words of wisdom to share on the topic, please do so in the comment form below. Thanks for reading, and best of luck in all of your fitness goals!