How to Set Up Your Own Fitness Plan

Create a fitness plan that you'll stick with and enjoy.

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

If you're feeling motivated to get off the couch and embark on a new fitness program, but aren't sure where to begin -- you're not alone. Navigating the murky waters of fad diets, fitness crazes, weight loss gimmicks and advice from supposed health gurus can be enough to make anyone's head spin. Still, setting up your own fitness program is ultimately rather straightforward. Keep a few things in mind to create a safe, fun program, and you'll be well on your way to a fit and healthy body.

Before You Begin


Get the go-ahead from your doctor to make sure you're healthy enough to start. Discuss any medical conditions you may have and medications you're taking. Your doctor may advise you to keep your workouts within a certain intensity level -- make sure you understand his recommendations fully.


Obtain baseline measurements including weight, body mass index and waist circumference. Test your flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness using the sit and reach, pushup and timed mile tests, respectively.


Establish fitness goals and write them down, being as specific as you possibly can. Give yourself a deadline and review your list of goals every morning to help stay on track.

Creating Your Program


Set your workout frequency and duration. Be realistic about the amount of time you budget for fitness. Take your schedule and obligations into consideration, but also be honest about the amount of time you may be wasting doing unproductive things, like watching television.


Incorporate cardiovascular exercises, shooting for least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise a week. Moderately intense exercise will cause you to work up a sweat and quicken your breathing, but it shouldn't cause you to become breathless. If you're new to exercise, set this as a goal to work up to.


Set your resistance training schedule for two or more days a week. For instance, if you're only able to do resistance training twice a week, you may do a total-body workout each time. If you can devote additional days, you may want to set an upper body workout one day and a lower body workout on another. Try to incorporate a variety of exercises using machines, cables, free weights and body weight.


Incorporate at least one to two rest days each week. Wait at least 48 hours between training the same body parts to avoid over-training injuries and burnout.


  • Try to change up your routine regularly to avoid training plateaus. Include a variety of exercises and activities that you enjoy. Remember that no matter how great your fitness program is, you can blow it in the kitchen. Accompany your exercise with a clean, nutritious diet.


  • Listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, pay attention. Working through pain is a recipe for injury.

Resources (1)