Planning is the key to fitness success.
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Whether it's been a few years since your last trip to the gym, or you can count on one hand the number of times you've worked out in you lifetime, a workout checklist can help you stay organized, motivated and on the right track. The key points when making your checklist are to consider what you need for your workouts, the types of exercise to use, and all the other details that can help you succeed.
Dress for Success
Wear comfortable clothing that's not too loose when working out. It should also be weather appropriate if you're exercising outdoors. Comfortable running or walking shoes are a must-have. When lifting weights, a pair of weightlifting gloves helps improve grip and protects your hands. Always have drinking water close by. You may also want to grab a pair of ear buds and jam away to your favorite fast-paced music as you exercise. Listening to music can help boost your endurance by as much as 15 percent (source 1).
What to Do
Variety is one of the keys to success in the fitness world. Use cardio and resistance training in your workout plan. As part of your workout checklist, write down an exercise plan based on your desired fitness goals - build strength or lose weight. To primarily build muscle and strength, do a 30 to 45 minute resistance training workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Tuesday and Thursdays are reserved for 30 to 60 minutes of cardio. If weight loss is your main goal, do your cardio workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and resistance training on the other two days. Keep in mind that both strategies will ultimately help you lose weight and improve your muscle tone.
Keep an exercise log to track your progress with each workout. Record the duration of the workout, type of exercise, estimate of calories burned, sets and reps of resistance training exercises, and any other exercise-related information that's important to you. You can also track your weekly weight loss and/or body measurements in your exercise log. Keeping track of your progress will help you stay on the right track and give you some extra motivation as you see your fitness level progressing week after week.
Before and After Workouts
Your pre- and post-workout routine is nearly as important as the workout itself. Not warming up or cooling down properly can lead to injuries. So as part of your workout checklist, include your warm up and cool down routines. Before a workout, start by doing some dynamic stretching, which is like doing the exercise itself but at a much slower rate and with exaggerated movements. Follow this up by doing some traditional static stretches. Begin the workout slowly and work your way up to higher intensities. At the end of the workout, do about five minutes of low-to-moderate exercise to gradually bring your heart rate back down near its normal resting rate. Finish each workout with a few minutes of stretching any muscles that feel tight.