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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Five top tips for planning your workouts

Where do you keep your exercise program? Do you even have one? What’s your motivation to exercise?

Having a plan is the most important thing you need to do in order to achieve your health and wellness goals, according to local exercise physiologist Kirra Rankin.

She says gyms will be in the second phase of restrictions easing – “so let’s not wait till then to improve your wellbeing. Let’s start planning now”.

She’s made it easy for you, too, with a weekly workout planner.    

“Print it out every Sunday night, and think about how your week will look,” she says.

“There’s a couple of tips on the bottom right hand corner. If you write down your exercise plan, you’ll be able to monitor it and adapt it over the week.”  

The recommended activity guidelines are 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity every week. 

Here are Kirra’s top five tips for planning your workouts:

1. Set up your program

Is there a certain fitness component you are targeting? Power, strength, agility, balance, endurance, speed? Are you wanting to improve sleep quality? Or maybe you have a “busy-monkey-mind” and you find a walking/running/aerobic exercise program calms your nervous system and allows you to think better. Write down what you want to do.

2. Goal setting

Once you have thought about what you want out of your program, I’d recommend seeing an allied health professional (exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with an exercise programming background, or an experienced personal trainer), to help design your goals. It’s good to have a short-term goal (one week), a medium-term goal (three months), and a long-term goal (one year). 

Having a short-term plan allows you to focus on the present, which is important during a pandemic. We don’t know what restrictions will be put on us next week – so let’s plan for this week!

This week I wanted to focus on my leg strength, so I put my 30kg five-year-old old on my back, and hiked up Mount Painter.

3. Monitor and measure progress

Monitoring your functional progress is essential to keep you on track. It doesn’t have to be a regular beep test; here are some easy at-home tests:

  • Record your heart rate before and after exercise.
  • Have a regular block that you run or walk around and time yourself.
  • Sit to stand test – how many you can do in 1 minute.
  • Count how many squats and push-ups you can do in 30 seconds, and time yourself every week to see if you’re improving.
  • Planking is always a great test, as you can plank anywhere, anytime.
  • Get a Fitbit or check the built-in health app on your iPhone and measure how many steps you do a day.
  • Time yourself in front of your computer desk to see how long you can sit with controlled posture.

The purpose of monitoring an exercise program is to systematically stress the body so it improves its tolerance to the specific movement. You want the monitoring to be sustainable, easy, accurate and regular. Most importantly, write it down so you can see your improvement.

4. Adapt your program

A successful exercise program is an adaptive process, and will consider progressive overload, specificity, reversibility and individual differences. You need to know where you are struggling and what is working for you.  The beauty of measuring your progress, is it allows you to adapt the program according to how you are feeling. Rest and recovery days are a big part of the adaptive process.

5. A visible program

Print out three copies of your program: one for the fridge, one for your at-home workstation and one for the bathroom mirror. Here’s one of my favourite full body workouts. It doesn’t take long, and it feels great afterwards:

1. Plank and row

2. Lunge and twist

3. The scooter

4. Crunch and tap

5. Hip fire hydrant

You can print the PDF here. If you’re fit and healthy I’d recommend doing the five exercises for three sets of 10-12 repetitions. If your fitness needs nurturing, try for two sets of six repetitions, three days a week.

Now, it’s your turn: plan, measure, adapt, print. What are you going to write on your Canberra Weekly workout planner?

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