Create Your No-Fail Fitness Plan

| Fitness

Ready to take the first step in your personal fitness regimen? Make sure that step is on solid ground! If you're going to do this, you've got to have a plan. You're feeling ambitious in the moment, but taking smaller steps for the first few weeks will set you up for success in the long run. No need to go straight to two-a-days or jump on the bike for a 60-minute spin class.

fitness refresh

Why are you doing this? For real, though. What changes are you looking to make and why? Have an honest sit-down with yourself and hash this out. This information will be the words running through your head when you want to quit, so make sure they're there!

Setting smaller goals will help you break down the bigger goals. Instead of walking into your fitness plan thinking only about losing 20 pounds, consider just how you're going to do it. A small goal would be working out twice a week at the gym, or sneaking in one workout at home on the weekends; another example would be to try three different classes in a month or nailing a technique (like mountain climbers). Be certain these are your goals for yourself, not goals manifested by someone else.

Lay out a schedule for yourself. You can hold yourself accountable by signing up for classes or setting apart time just for exercise. Here's how to approach your schedule:

  • How many days should you work out? Adults should be getting a minimum of 150 minutes, or 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of exercise. Decide how you'd like to break that up. For example, two 45-minute classes plus two 30-minute workouts on your own. Click here for an arm workout and repeat it for three full circuits.
  • Mornings or evenings? This is a personal preference. For busy moms, mornings are usually the best since evenings are claimed by dinner, dishes, homework and bedtime routines. Don't forget about the mid-morning option; your muscles and lungs will be more awake by then anyway! Check out more about timing your workouts here.
  • Increase your frequency as you go. If you can't quite get to the 150 minutes, aim for 90 each week. By the end of the first month, find your way to 120 minutes. Give yourself 24 hours to recover from more intense workouts and use "active recovery" exercises like walks or slow cycling if you're sore.
  • Cardio or strength? Both! Get your weight training in twice a week and throw cardio into the mix at least once. Mix them together whenever you can. Weight training can also be any type of resistance training, including TRX, resistance bands or Pilates. Follow Real Mom Model Melissa Koester through a full-body band workout in under 20 minutes here or watch below!

holly beck stretching

Warm up, rest and stretch. You could bust your buns during a sweaty strength training class, but not receive the full benefits. By warming up, you increase your mobility and range of motion, which paves the way for more intense exercises and less chance of injury.

Give yourself time to stretch and warm up before class. Most classes will allow time for this, but not many allow you to stretch afterward. If you're doing workouts at home, put together a solid warmup routine for yourself – one you can memorize and perform without any equipment. Real Mom Model and bootcamp instructor, Tina Russell, shows you her go-to warmup routine here. When you're finished with your workout, do some static stretching to show your muscles some love and bring down your heart rate.

>> Read more: The Science Behind Stretching: Why You Should Stretch After Your Workouts

Crammed for time? No excuses! Adopt a fresh perspective on exercise. First and foremost, it should be enjoyable. Secondly, it should be a priority. If you find yourself in a pinch (you know, real life), wing your workout! Click here to learn how to throw one together last minute. Build your arsenal of exercises with experience and new ideas, like the ones on Skinny Mom's workout page!

melissa koester gym bag

Track your progress. The scale shouldn't be you only means of measuring success. Take measurements of spots you want to work on, which for most women include the thighs, waist and arms. Take note of the things your body can do and what you want it to be able to do. Test yourself and log the results. Click here to learn how to master and log basic strength training exercises. Track your ENTIRE body. Here are a few tips to seeing your results:

  • Measure yourself every three weeks or 21 days. It's easy to remember.
  • Snap a photo. Tuck it away for six weeks or so, then shock yourself by taking a second photo and comparing.
  • Adjust your goals as needed. Muscles weigh more than fat, so if you're not hitting that target number on the scale, look at your other results.
  • Master skills. Form is everything!
  • Increase your weight selection or decrease your time. How many burpees can you do in 60 seconds?
  • Graduate to the next class. You might be ready for that bootcamp now!
  • Log your workouts. You don't have to do this forever, but it's super motivating to see all the work you've already completed and decide what you're up for next. Work out with purpose.

>> Get motivated: My Weight Loss Journey Series