Design a Personal Exercise Plan: 7 Elements to Consider

Making the decision to exercise regularly is an admirable one. However, actually keeping the commitment to yourself to exercise regularly is truly praiseworthy. Given all of the directions in which we are pulled each day by the commitments in our lives, it is a wonder that we can ever find the time to work out.

One sure-fire way to increase your chances of sticking with an exercise routine is to design a personal exercise plan that is tailored to your body and your schedule. If you are looking to design your own personal exercise plan, here are 7 elements to be sure to consider:

1. Determine your maximum heart rate:

The first thing you need to is to “know thyself” better, as the Greek philosophers used to say. In the case of creating a personal exercise routine, you need to calculate your maximum heart rate. Wait – don’t skip ahead – this is very simple math and takes just a second. Ready? Just subtract your age from 220 (220 – your age = your maximum heart rate). That was easy, wasn’t it? Okay, keep that number in mind.

2. Check with your doctor first if you are new to intense exercise:

If you are a stranger to intense exercise or have taken more than a two or three year break from a regular routine, check with your doctor to make sure you have their blessing. In particular, ask him or her if there is anything you should avoid, given your medical history.

3. Find the right target training zone:

Now, you need to figure out your target training zone for your heart rate for when you are doing aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercises. This, too, is super-quick calculation now that you know your maximum heart rate. First, you will need to determine where you are in terms of your intended intensity level. This is a function of your exercise history, your current state of health, and your goals. In general, here are the various target heart rate training zones you have to choose from:

* 50-60% (of your maximum heart rate) for beginners or people resuming after a long break
* 60-70% for people who are already involved in a regular workout routine
* 75-85% for competition or athletic performance

4. Incorporate one or more aerobic exercises:

Your personal exercise plan will need to include both aerobic and weight or resistance training-type exercises. Aerobic exercises are simply those that get your heart beating faster than your resting heart rate (see #3 above) for extended periods. This type of exercise is great for your overall heart health and can include: biking, jogging, walking, climbing stairs, swimming, etc.

5. Include weight training or resistance training:

The other major component of your personal exercise plan should include lifting weights (either free weights or machine weights) or resistance training (isometrics). Weight training is the only effective way to build muscle mass and increase overall body tone. The benefits of weight training include having a more well-defined musculature, looking fit, and reducing your chances for injury.

6. Determine the right workout frequency:

You will want to work out at least 2 times per week if you are just getting into an exercise routine. However, if you are already into the swing of things, your goal should be 3-5 times per week, with no more than 48 hours between workouts.

7. Duration (or how long you should work out):

You should plan to do at least 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise each time you work out. Then, do some weight training for another 20-30 minutes. Or, if you find yourself getting into intense workouts, try alternating your aerobic workout days with your weight training days, thereby devoting a full 45-60 minutes solely to one or the other each time you work out.

By designing your personal exercise plan correctly, you will be much better equipped to stick with your plan long-term in order to see the results you desire.

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