Getting bogged down in the minutiae of preparing for exercise can quickly turn into a procrastination strategy. To get the most out of a fitness routine, you need to plan it in advance and keep track of your progress. Try creating a pre-printed checklist that you can print and then check off each week, or rely on notebooks or even a smartphone app to remember what you’ve accomplished.
The Right Supplies
You don’t have to invest in fancy exercise equipment to exercise, but keeping a bottle of water, a workout mat and a few wipes for getting rid of sweat in your exercise bag can help keep you comfortable. You’ll also want to invest in a good pair of shoes designed for the routine you’re doing — runners need running shoes, for example. Basic fitness tools such as a doorway pullup bar can make it easier to get in a little extra exercise at home, and a massage cane can help you massage away minor aches and pains after a strenuous workout.
Planning Your Routine
If you want to get the most out of a fitness program, you need to plan it to ensure you’re getting enough exercise to lose weight or improve your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get either 75 minutes a week of intense cardio such as running or 150 minutes a week of moderate cardio such as walking. If you want to lose weight, though, you may need much more exercise — as much as 300 minutes per week, according to the Mayo Clinic. The CDC also emphasizes that adults need strength training at least two days a week, so make routines such as weightlifting, exercise machines, pullups and situps a part of your routine a few times a week. Try targeting one area of the body each day, and checking it off your list as you go through the week.
Tracking Your Progress
Tracking your progress can help keep you motivated. A weekly progress-tracking to-do list can help you stay motivated. Try weighing yourself once a week to keep track of your weight loss. But don’t just rely on the scale, because it rarely tells the full story. Measuring yourself — particularly in problem areas — can help you note the inches you’re losing. Try logging your workout routines and the food you eat every day. This gives you a good estimate of how many calories you’re burning. A pedometer can help you track the amount of time you spend walking and running. Similarly, numerous smartphone apps are available to track your progress, monitor your weight-loss and even offer recommendations about new exercises to try.
Revving Up Intensity
As you build strength and stamina, you can increase the intensity of your workout to get even better results. Try setting monthly goals as part of your workout checklist. You might, for example, aim to be able to do 10 pullups by the end of the month or aspire to increase the amount of weight you can lift by 20 pounds. Maintain a list of exercises you want to try or that you can modify to render them more challenging, and be sure to make a note of it when you increase the difficulty of your routine. This provides real evidence that you’re plowing through your fitness goals.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?
- Real Simple: Gym Bag Essentials Checklist
- WebMD: Diabetes Exercise Checklist
- MayoClinic.com: Fitness Programs — 5 Steps to Getting Started
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss — Calories Burned in 1 Hour