The foundation of any good physical fitness program are specific, achievable goals that you can easily track. Establish short term and long term goals and let those drive your training frequency and intensity. Make every training session an important part of your weekly schedule and something that should not be canceled.
Write down a goal that is specific, measurable and achievable. Remember to take into account how familiar you are with physical training techniques and any medical conditions you may have. Record the type and duration of your workouts in a notebook. Having a record of your achievements can be used as inspiration to continue.
Select an appropriate training frequency, exercise order and training volume. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a combination of aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility exercises for physical fitness. At a minimum, your program should include 150 minutes total of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, as well as a minimum of two strength training sessions each week. Each strength training session should consist of at least one to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions per set, working all the major muscle groups. For additional health benefits, perform flexibility activities at least twice per week for 10 minutes each time. Spend at least 30 minutes, three days a week stretching with an activity like yoga to improve your flexibility.
Incorporate rest periods. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends resting for about one to two minutes between sets of resistance exercises. Strength train on non-consecutive days to give your muscles time to recover.
Track your progress. You should see slow and steady improvement from week to week. If you are not seeing results, make one minor adjustment to your program at a time (increased frequency, higher intensity or longer rest periods, for example) to see if it has a positive effect on your goals. If not, return to your original program and make a different minor adjustment.
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; Thomas R. Bacchle, Ed.D.
- Periodization of Strength; Tudor O. Bompa, Ph.D.
- ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal; MyActivity Pyramid For Adults; Stephen D. Ball, Ph.D., and Robin Gammon, M.Ed.
- Centers for Disease Control: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Exercise