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Get Your Dream Body: Building a Personalized Workout Plan

Ready to take your fitness to the next level? Designing a personalized weekly workout plan is key to achieving your health and fitness goals.

By strategically planning your workouts and incorporating a variety of exercises, you can maximize your results and enjoy the process.

You’ll end up looking firmer and stronger, feeling more youthful and flexible, and becoming healthier from the inside out.

In this article, I guide you through the steps to create your ideal weekly workout plan, tailored to your unique lifestyle and preferences. A video is included which should also prove helpful.

Creating the Perfect Weekly Workout Plan for Your Goals

The results of improved self-care are robust health, a better appearance, and abundant energy.

As busy as you think your life is, you can still create more free time for self-care. It just takes a bit of organization and a good plan.

You can tailor a weekly workout plan and accompanying checklist to match your unique lifestyle and goals.

Though a good workout plan has a mix of modalities – cardio, strength training, higher-intensity intervals, and flexibility – you can emphasize a particular type of exercise based on your personal goals. First, be honest with yourself about your priorities:

  • If you’d rather lose fat than build muscle, you can focus on maintaining a caloric deficit through a combination of diet and aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, or swimming, to burn more calories than you consume.
  • If you’d rather build muscle than lose fat, you can emphasize regular strength training exercises targeting all major muscle groups, increase your protein intake, and ensure you are consuming enough calories to support muscle growth.
  • If your priority is simply to be healthier, you can incorporate a balanced routine that includes both aerobic and strength training exercises, eat a nutritious, anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables and lean proteins, and ensure you get deep sleep and manage your stress responses effectively.

Try this to get started:

  1. Print up a calendar week that would become your new self-care template for standing weekly appointments.
  2. Block-out four one-hour time slots on that template – one for “Walk,” one for “Mobility,” one for “Cardio (or High-Intensity Interval Training),” and one for “Strength-Training.”  These will become recurring weekly appointments that you keep with yourself.

This means that you now have a total of four recurring appointments on your new weekly self-care plan.

Soon, your calendar will be an actual reflection of your healthier lifestyle.

Experiment with this plan for a few weeks, fine-tune it as you go (based on your priorities), and once you’ve gotten it to where you want it, add these standing appointments to your regular digital calendar on your phone or laptop.

The Science Behind Building Your Dream Body

The concept of losing fat while gaining muscle is supported by a research study conducted by researchers at McMaster University, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study found that it is possible to achieve both, but it isn’t easy.

The researchers divided their subjects into two groups, both of which went on a low-calorie diet. The higher-protein group experienced muscle gains, about 2.5 pounds, despite consuming insufficient energy, while the lower-protein group did not add muscle.

The lower-protein group at least had the consolation of not losing muscle, which is a predictable outcome of cutting calories and not working out, say researchers.

The study also found that the high-protein group lost more body fat compared to the low-protein group, which is an unexpected outcome.

This suggests that a high-protein diet can help people lose fat while gaining muscle, which is a common goal for those trying to manage their weight, control their calories, and balance their protein consumption.

The principle of building muscle through regular strength training exercises targeting all major muscle groups and increasing protein intake is also supported by research. Another research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that older persons who did strength training three times per week for 12 weeks, doing 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, gained an average of four pounds of lean mass and lost over four pounds of fat. This study shows that it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, regardless of age.

The idea of eating an anti-inflammatory diet combined with a balanced exercise regimen is supported by the results of research within the Journal of Nutrition which establishes that a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in vegetables and lean meats, can reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health in people with type 2 diabetes.

The study found that participants who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had lower levels of inflammatory markers, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), compared to those who followed a control diet.

Many people find starting a new diet and workout plan challenging.

Now that you’ve created a basic plan, finding the motivation to actually begin might be the most difficult part.

The following tips can help you get started and stay committed to your new healthy lifestyle.

6 Bonus Ways to Prepare for Your Best Workout of the Week

It’s so easy in our busy lives to start our day with the best of intentions but then end up blowing off our workout plans. We all need a little motivation now and then to get moving.

Even something as simple as eating the wrong thing for lunch can suck the energy from our bodies, making us too bloated and tired to even consider a workout.

Here are six more key concepts that can help inspire you to take even better care of yourself this week – especially regarding exercise.

1. Motivate Yourself with Others’ Successes

When I’m planning my workouts in my mind for the week ahead, I sometimes like to watch videos or read inspirational articles to get motivated.

Mature fit man walking his dog, enjoying results from his new workout plan.

2. Choose an Accountability Partner

Recently, I started meeting a buddy once a week at the gym to workout together. We build the day and time into our schedules as a regular, standing appointment. We’re having a lot of fun and, more importantly, we’re helping each other to stay on track as we move toward our health targets.

Having accountability partners can be pivotal in accomplishing your self-care goals, too.

3. Work with Your Current Circumstances

Some days – let’s face it – it just becomes almost impossible to tear yourself away from your desk to fit in a workout. If you have kids at home, this can be especially true.

Prepare Mentally Best Workout

Fortunately, there are exercises and mobility movements you can do in your office or home gym that only require a few minutes of your time.

“The more the day progresses, the more danger there is of something unexpected interfering with your planned workout.”

4. Be Mindful of Your Mood

You can still do something productive for your well-being, even if you don’t have time to go to the gym.

One thing I like to do when I’m too busy to fit in a whole workout is to do a handstand or inversion pose. All that blood running in the other direction to my brain – it’s a natural mood elevator.

A research study published in the International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts investigates the health benefits of inversion poses, such as a yoga headstand. The study highlights the positive effects of inversions on major body systems like cardiovascular, lymphatic, endocrine, and nervous systems. It emphasizes how inversions can lower stress, anxiety, and fear, enhance blood flow to the brain, improve concentration, strengthen muscles, benefit hair and eyes, and stimulate the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the body.

Many yogis believe that it’s healthy and detoxifying to elevate your hips above your head, and I also like to do it because it improves my mood and mental clarity.

Though most people use coffee first thing in the morning to awaken and get their digestion and elimination revved up, coffee also makes a good sports supplement. Consider allocating one of your morning cups of coffee toward your pre-workout period instead.

I’m careful not to over-caffeinate, and I like to have a small cup of coffee about 30 minutes before I have an intense workout planned.

Checklists testimonial

“I’ve never been much of a list guy – they always seem like an awful lot of work and if I’m honest, there’s no hiding from your having failed to achieve what was on the list. So in that sense, lists have often made me feel bad.  But, what Dane Findley wrote about low-level stress- how you don’t even realize it’s there after a while and it becomes your ‘normal’ baseline-  really resonated with me.  I think maybe it’s about time to try and bring a little order to the chaos, and both the Quotidian approach and Pomodoro technique sound like steps I can get behind!” — Kevin Dunseath, Banking Consultant

Another thing I do when I don’t have time to go to the gym is deep breathing. A few minutes of deep breathing exercises can be hugely restorative.

5. Plan Ahead (Your Checklist Will Help)

One of the big questions you want to ask yourself if you’re wanting to get back into shape is, “Am I a morning person or a night person?

Generally, you’ll want to plan most of your workouts for when your mind is clearest, your enthusiasm is brightest, and your physical energy is highest (for me, that happens to be mornings).

perfect weekly workout schedule

By the way, when your physical energy begins to improve from exercise, don’t be surprised if that, in turn, also begins to improve other areas of your life – such as your personal and professional relationships.

6. Cut Yourself Some Slack

If you’re having difficulty jump-starting your workouts, resist blaming yourself for being undisciplined or disorganized. That only makes it worse! Instead, I kindly encourage you to celebrate those things that you’re already doing right.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

When you find yourself procrastinating, it can be helpful to pause to imagine what you’ll feel like as you walk out of the gym right after finishing your workout.

Close your eyes, breathe, and really try to visualize how you’ll feel when it’s all done – that sense of accomplishment, and your body humming with energy and clarity.

Self-care, for-the-win!

Let the memory of that delicious, post-workout feeling motivate you to make it to the gym for the big payoff.

How a Plan Can Help You Stay Motivated and Get Fit

Creating your own personalized checklist – and using it regularly – can be an essential part of taking your productivity to the next level.

Using checklists smartly will energize you and free up more time for your fitness protocols.

The end result?

You’ll look better, and feel better.

fitness motivation plan and checklist

What would your life be like, if you were even more organized than you are right now?

Would you be happier? Would you have more time for exercise?

I think you would.

In fact, I’m sure of it.

For humans, life just seems to work better when we’re organized.

“A study from Psychological Science found being organized can actually have a positive input on what you’re eating. Specifically, the study found people who worked in a neat space were two times as likely to pick an apple to eat versus a chocolate bar when compared to those who were working in an messy environment.” – Bustle.com

Being organized means, we move through each day productively and end each night basking in a deep feeling of accomplishment for our day’s efforts.

Perhaps the best part of becoming more organized, however, is that it seems to create enough extra free time for meal preparation and consistent exercise. This, in turn, can have a profound impact on overall health.

Checklist Solutions testimonial

“Live with Intention. Create a happy, balanced life. We all want this, right?  Dane’s tips and techniques are a great way to reduce stress and be more productive.  I’m a list maker, and follow a daily plan. But, sometimes things get in the way of completing my daily list.  I really like thinking of my daily list as organic and always improving.  If you aren’t a list-maker – he provides simple principles that will make a positive difference” — Margie Arnett, University Professor

A Good Plan and a Checklist Can Enhance Daily Motivation to Become Fit

Being disorganized is expensive.

Being organized, on the other hand, saves you money.

On television shows, people seem to have a limitless supply of free time and physical energy. Homes on tv seem to clean themselves – and the shopping, errands, self-care, grooming, and workouts all seem to happen magically off-camera.

In real life, however, time and attention are extremely limited resources.

By the time someone puts in a full day of work, runs an errand or two, makes it to the gym, then home to cook dinner, well, let’s be realistic – there’s barely any mental energy left to spend quality time with loved ones.

A good productivity system can help.

Though each of us has the same number of hours per week, productivity principles help us to use the minutes within those hours in the most strategic sequence possible.

workout fitness plan for motivation

The foundation of a good productivity system is the simple checklist.

In my case, I use four primary checklists throughout my busy week:

  1. a preprinted checklist for tasks I do every day: my “quotidian”
  2. another preprinted checklist for tasks I do once-a-week
  3. a list of professional “one-offs” for work (I maintain this list online so I can collaborate with my associates)
  4. a list of personal “one-offs” for upgrading, stocking or tidying my home (this list is handwritten)

Three of the above checklists I keep on (old-school, analog-era) clipboards, and the other I keep on a digital app that I (and my colleagues) can access from my laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

These four lists, plus my schedule (I use Google Calendar), are all I need to get more done in a day.

An Intelligent Plan Uses Each Extra Hour Wisely

Now that you’re using checklists smoothly, you will likely notice that your mind is less distracted and you have at least three extra hours throughout the week. That’s enough for three workouts, but which three workouts should you do to have the most positive health impact?

I’m a big believer in cross-functional fitness training.

Because the human body adapts to the same movement patterns quickly – much more quickly than most people realize – I find it useful to do various workouts – outdoor runs, Pilates, sprints, yoga, resistance training, and more.

However, when I’m having an especially busy week and am shorter on time, I will often opt for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as it combines elements of many different types of exercise into one fast workout session.

HIIT provides an all-out, extreme-effort workout through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short – sometimes active – recovery periods. What it lacks in duration, it makes up for in quality. Typically, the chosen exercises are designed to train the major muscle groups of the human body symmetrically and also include mobility drills.

Recent research shows cardiovascular adaptations to HIIT are, in many cases, superior to those of continuous endurance training (those “vanilla” cardio workouts you see people doing at the gym, such as 25 minutes on the treadmill). The increase in mitochondrial oxidative enzymes from HIIT workouts leads to more effective fat and carbohydrate breakdown for fuel.

HIIT workouts come in all kinds of programs, but one example would be ten exercises done for 1 minute each using a timer, with a 10-second break in between each exercise, for a total of 3 complete circuits with a 5-minute run in between each entire circuit. At the beginning of the workout would be 5 minutes of mobility drills to lubricate joints, and at the end of the workout would be 5 minutes of light stretching to improve flexibility and posture.

You can also create a short, personalized checklist for packing your gym bag each morning. Microfiber towels? Check. Protein bar? Check. Training gloves, supplements, padlock for your locker? Check, check, check.

Conclusion on Designing Your Ideal Weekly Workout Plan for Optimal Fitness

Creating a personalized weekly workout plan is a critical component of any successful fitness journey.

By incorporating a mix of cardio, strength training, higher-intensity intervals, and flexibility exercises – and being mindful of your body’s needs for rest and recovery – you’ll be well on your way to achieving optimal health and vitality.

If you really want to drill down into creating a new personal productivity checklist system, including a highly detailed workout program, I have two articles that go into it in deeper, step-by-step detail:

Remember, consistency is key – stick to your plan as much as possible but also be flexible and kind to yourself when life gets in the way. With dedication and a well-designed plan, you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make.

Additional Sources on Designing a Weekly Workout Plan

Which type of workout is better? Research: https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/HIITvsCardio.html

Sleep Patterns and Recovery – http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem

How Early Risers Are Different – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8763618/Early-risers-get-ahead-of-the-game.html