1. What are your goals?

This question splits into two:

1. What are your long-term goals?

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2. What are today’s goals? Achieving these should get you one step closer to your long term goal.

If you don’t know where you’re going then how are you going to get there? You cannot map a journey if there is no destination. Ask yourself the following questions:

Where do I want to be X months from now?

What is my goal for today? What do I want to achieve?

Is what I am about to do today contributing to my long term goal, X months from now?

Have this in mind at all times so you achieve something, get somewhere and don’t give up after the first few week or months.

2. Which type of workout?

After you are clear on the goals, the next step is to decide which type of workout to go for.

For example, let’s say you are training for a 10k. You’d need to be running but also work on your strength and speed (do you want personal best or just to finish the race?) as well as mobility and flexibility.

The latter is overlooked by many runners but it is essential to reduce the risk of injuries. And it is also an important component of a healthy life.

When you choose your workout you also need to consider what you did yesterday and the day before. Your body needs rest so you cannot push it to its limits every time and expect it to perform at its best every single time.

Thus, let’s say yesterday you did sprints and pushed hard. Today you might want to think about some yoga to recover and work your mobility and flexibility as well.

Plan your workouts and rest days for the whole week

Keep it simple for the beginning and develop your program with time. For example:

Monday: Strength – upper body. List the exercises, sets and reps.

Tuesday: Long distance running. How long?

Wednesday: Break

Thursday: Intervals – sprints. Write down the intervals.

Friday: Yoga or any other type of mobility and flexibility

Saturday: Strength – lower body. List the exercises, sets and reps.

Sunday: Break

As you get more experienced this program will turn into something much more complex.

This is just an example, depending on your goal and time frame it will change accordingly. Keep in mind your body needs to recover after hard training.

Thus, in the end we have:

1. Rest time between sessions

2. Variation

3. Cover all aspects: strength (upper and lower body), mobility and  flexibility and cardio (less if your goal is hypertrophy), plyometrics (explosive movement such as jumping), endurance.

Follow these guidelines even if you do not have a specific goal. It is a good way to train your body.

3. How much time do you have?

You cannot plan a 1h30 min session when you only have 45 min. Think about the time you have and bear in mind that a proper, effective workout follows these simple, general guidelines:

Warmup – cardio

Warmup – stretches

Main session

Cool down – cardio

Cool down – stretches

And while many take 5-10 min to stretch, in my experience as an international athlete, I’d say take it up to 15-20.

Proper stretching is essential before your workout to warm up your muscles and reduce the risk on injuries, and then after your workout to help recovery.

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Other things to take into consideration:

1. The length of time you have been doing the same workout structure with very little variation.

When you reach the plateau you may not see any progress anymore so you need to make some changes. To change your routine get creative by addressing:

– Number of exercises

– Number of sets

– Repetitions

– Adjust weights

– Recovery periods between sets (decrease, increase)

– Workout frequency

– Movement speed: slow to fast, fast to slow

– Different exercises

– Stable to unstable surface

2. Time off

Athletes sometimes get a whole week off training. It’s strategically, of course and it serves a purpose!

If you have been training for months, take a few days off. It will give the body a chance to recover 100%, you will avoid the plateau and you will come back hungrier than ever. Avoid a break that’s too long, maximum 1 week.

3. One last thing I will leave you with: “Calamity springs from lack of carelessness” (the 7th Guiding Principle of Karate-Do).

When your mind is not where your body is there is lack of awareness. And this is when injury happens.

If you cannot focus and be mindful you should stop your routine and re-gain your focus, change your routine to match your state of mind or even just stop and go home.

Connect with Expert Alexandra Merisoiu.

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