Setting Up A Workout Schedule

Posted: October 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Peter has had some changes to his work schedule, which means I will have a bit less freedom in the workout department. I’m not complaining though. I know I was spoiled before! Now, I just have to revamp things a bit to make sure I still have a training plan that works.

I think setting up a loose workout schedule does wonders in helping people stay on track with activity and fitness goals, so I always make having a plan a priority. Here’s what I consider when setting up my plan:

Key Questions When Setting Up A Workout Schedule

Question One: Are there any parts of my training I have to do on certain days? Sometimes you have certain activities or “training dates” that you can’t change up as freely. Some examples to consider here would include:

  • the optimal day you can fit in your long run
  • the only day that offers your absolute favorite group fitness class
  • a pre-set date with a trainer or friend

Question Two: Are there any days I know are really hard for me to fit in a workout? Some days of the week are busier than others. Some days you may simply find very hard to mentally get motivated for a workout. Those are the days you should shoot to schedule as a rest day.

Question Three: What time of day works best for me? Early morning? After work? Mid-morning? Late night? On your lunch break? During naptime? What time will you be able to consistently fit in activity?

Question Four: What options will fit my goals and my schedule the best? Find the options that will help you achieve your goals, but keep the time commitment and exercise selections realistic. That might mean putting less emphasis on certain parts of your training at times.

Question Five: Are there any options that will make it easier to stick with your plan? A favorite class? An at-home workout?

Here’s where this all left me -

MONDAY Full Body Weights + Spin Class in the afternoon
TUESDAY Mid-Week Longer Run (5-6 miles) in the afternoon
WEDNESDAY Cardio DVD at home in the afternoon
THURSDAY Treadmill Run in the morning + Weights DVD in the afternoon
FRIDAY Off (or possibly trying yoga/stretch class at the gym)
SATURDAY Long Run in the morning
SUNDAY Off (or make-up day or recovery run if feeling it)
  • Schedule-wise, I have to do long runs on Saturdays. That also means I need to rest or keep things light on Fridays in preparation for my run.
  • I have come to realize that I have a very hard time working out on Sundays because mentally I view it as a “family day” and a “relaxing day”.
  • I die at the thought of regular early morning workouts, so I’ll be hitting up the gym or pavement at 5 pm most days.
  • Training for two half marathons means running is my main focus. Strength training will have to go to 2 workouts a week, instead of 3.
  • To not take as much afternoon time from my family, I will need to use more at-home options to make the most effective use of my time.

So with a little careful thought, a solid plan can happen to help you stay on track. Personally, plans make a huge difference in my consistency and focus. I definitely suggest giving one a try if you don’t have one…or if your current one isn’t keeping you motivated. I’ll have to fill you in on my workout later tonight. I have a feeling it will be a goodie!

Do you have a workout schedule? What things do you focus on when making one? Do you have a day you really struggle with working out?

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40 Comments to “Setting Up A Workout Schedule”
  1. Looks like you worked out a great schedule! Sundays are almost always off days for me too– they’re for relaxing with the fam!!

  2. I don’t struggle with my schedule as much as I struggle with getting in everything that I want to do!

    I have to workout in the am before work and I can’t do my long runs on Saturdays because my husband works I wish I could run and do weights on the same day – but there’s not enough time! I need more hours ;)

    I do agree that planning out my workouts makes me more accountable for them – and even look forward to them (kinda!).

  3. I have a loose schedule. I know that I like to work out in the mornings, so I think that will be easy to continue once I have kids (fingers crossed!) because I am home before the Husband even hits snooze once.

    • Tina says:

      I don’t know why but I can completely picture you fitting in a workout before he even blinks an eye in the morning. Haha!

  4. Mellissa says:

    I try to stick to a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday schedule. Sometimes I get one more in but 4 times a week and I am happy!

  5. I like working out in the mornings, first thing. I feel the same as you as Sunday is family day, but since my husband always goes to the gym on Sunday, it makes it easier for me to go as well. I like working out five days a week if my schedule permits at the gym and doing some stretching/yoga at home a few days a week as well.

  6. I usually save my leg workouts for the end of the week (Friday normally) since I try to run during the week. If I work my legs out earlier in the week, they might be too sore to run!

    Sundays are definitely hard for me when it comes to working out. It’s most always my rest day, unless I need to make time up from an unplanned rest day. Saturdays have become increasingly hard for me as well, since I usually workout at 5am before work, and when I sleep in on Saturdays, I get out of that mindset!

  7. I’m working on my plan right now! With the husband’s work schedule, early morning or late at night works for me and I’m not a night person so I wake up before the sun. Sundays are always rest days for me.

  8. One awesome thing about teaching Jazzercise is that on the days I do it, my workouts are scheduled for me! I tend to have a hard time fitting in other workouts during the week because I am leaving very early and getting home very late. I try to wake up early and get some type of activity in before I go to work, but it’s difficult because I go to bed so late!

  9. Because, for some reason, I’m still scared to use the daycare at the gym, I haven’t managed to figure out any schedule at all. Which makes me a big ole puddle of goo. I need to sit down and figure out when I’m going to make time to exercise.

    • Tina says:

      It definitely makes a difference in having a child care you can trust at a gym. I’ve actually been goign to mine less because it can be hit or miss with who is there…which I’m not fond of.

  10. Making a schedule has been HUGE, and while I still have yet to stick to it perfectly, it’s been a good jumping of point. I even printed it out and put it on the fridge, it helped a lot with my anxiety over if I will be able to do the half in January. Works out on paper! I just hope I stop getting sick so I can stick to it.

  11. Great tips, Tina! I have a pre-set schedule from my team’s coach for my half marathon in December, but I find myself tweaking in here or there based on my own schedule and what classes are available at the gym. It keeps me happier if I’m flexible enough with the schedule to work in the “good” classes, instead of just what fits the pre-written schedule. :)

  12. I have a pretty relaxed schedule…and am lucky that our gym offers childcare. So if I’m teaching, the kids are well looked after! My last gym didn’t offer that, so working out HAD to take place when T was home.

  13. I try to do my long runs on Saturday as well so I’m not wiped out on Monday mornings. I’m training for a half too so weights were being squeezed in whenever I can. I have been trying to get in at least 3 body parts on Sundays then I can do one short tricep or one short shoulder workout at lunch or before spin. Legs….sad sad sad Must get back to a good leg rotation after the race.

    I try to always have a backup plan for my workouts and go with how I’m feeling. I don’t want to dread my workout.

  14. I sort of have an idea of a schedule haha. I know there are certain things I want to do and I figure out which days they will fit in better with my schedule. I also prefer morning workouts so I plan around that. I’ve noticed that once I made exercise a priority in my life, the planning became so much easier. I just try not to have a set plan because then if something keeps me from following through I don’t want to feel let down!

  15. My schedule is pretty loose–in fact a little too loose to the point where right now I am trying to make a set schedule. I love these tips!

  16. There is really only one time of the day that I can workout, early early mornings. Most of the time I’m up at 5am to get it done, but I love it because then I don’t have to do it later and can focus on family. It was hard to get used to, but now I can’t imagine doing it differently.

  17. I am all about a schedule – it goes a long way in holding me accountable. I used Excel and modify it from week to week depending on my travel/work schedule.

  18. I think this is a fantastic post – and so useful to me! I’ve just got a new job so my schedule is going to change, and I really appreciated this post, kind of motivating/inspiring me/reassuring me about changing my workout plans etc – it’s cool to embrace change and roll with it! I will definitely be making a new workout plan – I think it’s a great tool for creating consisitency and balance in your workouts, hitting all aspects that you want to work on (ie: yoga / spin / weights) Thank you! xyx

  19. I don’t have a workout schedule right now. Guess I need one, though. Lately, I’ve just been trying to fit in any kind of activity. I need to get my butt to the gym after work again, now that outdoor runs are losing their fun because of the cold.

  20. Lauren says:

    Love this post! I try to find out what workouts work best for my class/work schedules. I try a few choices for a week or two, then usually stick with that schedule for a while. I also focus on only 1-2 things at a time. Some months, I’ll run a lot, but in the winter, I focus more on spin/other cardio and yoga.

    • Tina says:

      I love that idea of focusing just on a couple things at a time. Hard to do a ton of things and have multiple goals all at once.

  21. Kace says:

    How timely – I was just working out my exercise schedule today! I’m not nearly done yet; too much to consider. But we’re clearly on the same wavelength!

  22. I have a workout schedule for when I am training for races. Otherwise I don’t pay much attention to what I am doing.. although I try to do something productive each and everyday! I am currently training for a half-marathon and hoping to PR so I don’t want to run too much (as odd as that sounds), because my legs get quite tired!

  23. ahh we are on the same wavelength thinking about schedules these days – although i agree w/ you that my ‘freestyling it’ is more realistic and great in my current pregnant state :)

    your plan looks beautifully balanced although i say HELL YEAH to the yoga! if you love it, you could even sub it for the spin or cardio sometimes – if your mileage is high enough, you will have plenty o’ cardio!

  24. Anna Marie says:

    Work out DVDs are my go to choice for days that my only work out time is in the AM. I have a variety so I switch them up to keep it fun.

  25. Jess says:

    My approach to workout plans tends to be similar to yours; typically 1-2 rest days per week, long runs on Saturday, rest the day before in preparation. I’ve found that I sometimes need to make Sunday my second rest day depending on how that run the day prior leaves me feeling. So this week that was totally the case; but the week before? I felt great on Sunday and ended up doing a great 5 miler. I just try to build my schedule depending on what my body is telling me each week. If that makes sense?

  26. I am going to definitely have to set up a workout plan once I get the ok from the Dr. to get back to working out after baby. I have been easing back into things, but I am quickly realizing how limited my time is going to be and how I am going to have to plan accordingly and even more so when I go back to work!

  27. Emma says:

    I have definitely found that planning my workouts with realistic expectations is the key. Organizing a schedule ahead of time that I can stick to is what keeps me moving every week and accomplishing my goals. However being flexible keeps me sane:) Good luck with the half….I’m running the Savannah 1/2 as my first and training is getting serious!

    • Tina says:

      I think there is going to be a big blogger/reader meet up that night…but I don’t know all the details yet. Maybe we will get the chance to meet. :)

  28. Alright, trainer Tina. Need your advice. Your main focus, like mine, is running. So my question is this: what do you recommend as far as weights go? Full body? Upper/lower split? Should I do a lower body workout on the same day as a shorter run to avoid doing it on a day close to a long run? :)

    I love the questions you posted as an assessment. It takes a lot more than just jotting a workout down on a planner page to get it right.

    • Tina says:

      I personally like doing two full body workouts that emphasize the upper body more. I lift heavier for upper and do just enough to get my lower body moving. I also am focusing on things like stability training with lower body. Usually do 12-20 rep range with just enough weight to feel it but not a big challenge so I’m not too sore. I get too sore doing lower only workouts so the full body combo works best for me. :)

  29. Khushboo says:

    I’m currently following a workout schedule! Initially I thought the rigidness would stress me out but I love having something to be accountable towards…and the pleasure of ticking each workout off! My workout motivation is negative on Sundays hence my rest day falls then! I also have another rest day on Wednesday to break things up as I know that I would mentally (and probably physically) burn out! As for my long run, I know a lot of people like to do it on weekends but I actually prefer doing mine first thing on a Monday morning- start my week on a high note! Also I find that my motivation on weekends flags so I rather schedule a less intense workout on Saturdays! Great post- training plans should fit our life, not vice versa!

  30. Mac says:

    When I’m training for something, workout scheduling is easier to do, because I have 2-3 months worth of workouts pre-scheduled (of course that can vary a little based on how my body feels and how busy I am). Right now I’m pretty fortunate to be able to do my workouts pretty much whenevr I want due to my work schedule and lack of kids, but if I had kids or had to change things due to work, I would definitely try to do early AM workouts, that’s my time to shine, err sweat :)

  31. This is great! I need to SERIOUSLYYY get back on track with exercising and eating healthy! The last few weeks have been quite exhausting with work!

  32. AGS says:

    How do you work out with children? After my son was born, I took lots of walks and lifted weights — just shorter routeines of what I had done before/during pregnancy. I returned to work when my son was 8 weeks old. Initially, I still got about 3 short work-outs in/week (2 on weekends/1 during the week). But now my son is nearly 6 months, and I can probably count my work-outs in the past 2 months on one hand.

    It has nothing to do with weight. I lost all the pregnancy weight in 2 months, and was back into all my old clothes in about 3 months. I look great. But I want to be fit. I used to run 10 miles, now I can run 10 minutes. I am flat-out busy from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with next-day prep and a little husband time from 8-9:30, Mon-Fri. I am tired 100% of the time.

    How do you fit in exercise at all??

    • Tina says:

      I guess I know I NEED to fit in exercise because it does a lot for my sanity and my mood. It truly does make me a better mom and wife, so I find any way to make the time. I have a lot of resources to help too.

      Peter gets home from work by 5, so if I workout in the afternoon I can still be done by 6 or 6:30 and have a significant amount of family time. On Saturdays, I go early in the morning to get my long runs done while Peter is at home still sleeping away with the kids. I’m back by 9 at the latest to have the full day with them. I have at home workout options with DVDs and dumbbells that I can do for a 30-40 minute workout. Makenzie has fun “working out” with me and Braedon will play in his pack and play.

      I guess I try to look at each day and see where I can fit it in and just make it happen because I know if I don’t I will be a lot more irritable since its such a passion of mine. I try to use any resource available to me to help it work.

      I hope this helps!!! :)

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