Not everyone can afford a personal trainer and as amazing as they are, you need to learn to tailor workouts yourself if you want to progress without one!
1. What do you want to achieve?
What do you want? Everyone has different goals and aspirations but you need to know exactly what you want to achieve before you do anything else! Do you want to Build muscle? Stamina? Lose weight? Tone? Maintain your weight? Just be a little healthier? There are a lot of reasons for a training program, you can even have more than one. But before you can focus your training you need to know EXACTLY what you want to do.
2. What do you enjoy?
3. What are my weaknesses?
This part is key because you need to understand you own limits, any exercises that might not be suitable AND where you need to pay particular attention to. My ankles are fairly weak because I broke them playing netball so I do extra strengthening and stretching on them to accommodate the rest of the training program. Learning and accommodating for your weaknesses allows you to build them back up and avoid injury as well as any hindrances you come across.
It doesn’t have to be physical either, your weakness could be speed when running which means you need to incorporate speedwork and dynamic exercises to help your fast twitch muscles. Just look at what you really need and see how you can match it with what you want to do.
Once you have answered these questions you can then move on to choosing some specific exercises that help to target the areas you identified whilst ensuring you will not cause injury or further weaknesses. This can be one of the hardest parts as you aren’t a professional but you can start with the basics and work your way up from there.
Defining Your Plan
Now it is time to create your tailored workouts and plan to suit you. Start by creating a grid which has enough spaces for 7 days of the week. With the exercises you have chosen, also consider these points to give your plan more definition.
- Time – what time scale are you setting yourself to achieve your goals? It needs to be a challenge and yet achievable! A common option that I choose is anywhere between 10 and 16 weeks which means I can maintain focus and motivation the best for me.
- First Focus – While you can work on things simultaneously e.g. losing weight and improving speed, you need to decide which is your primary focus for this plan and where you are going to aim your efforts first.
- Limits – Is there anything to avoid? Medically or otherwise.
- Exercise Type – Are you looking for stretching, cardio, strength, HIIT or a combination
- Progression – Don’t keep it the same type and intensity each week. Give yourself the option to go harder or longer in the training but ensure not to spike to high. For example, for beginner runners you shouldn’t look at increasing by more than 20% each week as this can lead to injury.
5 Tips To Tailor Workouts
Inside your training program you need to have goals and milestones. These help to keep you motivated, interested and pushing to aspire to certain points. They can also help to tell whether you are going to reach your targets or if you need to adapt your program. I use the SMART layout (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) to help.
For more info check out my post “The Importance of Goal Setting”
2. Keep It Interesting
A boring training program is going to be unsuccessful because even the most motivated won’t want to do it day in and out. Tailor workouts mean that you can include the fun elements as well as the hard work, you just need to find what your favourite parts are. This also means keeping your program interesting and changing it so that you have progression and different elements keeping it interesting too!
3. Write it down
The one that everyone forgets and loathes. The recovery day! It’s so important not to get too carried away and to include appropriate recovery time for your body to avoid burnout and injury. Most of the improvements your body makes are during the rest times so ensure you have minimum one per week and for beginners two or three. When I was heavily overweight I started exercising 2-3 times a week at the recommendation of my doctor to ease my body, and joints into it!
5. Appreciate Yourself
Learn to appreciate what you have achieved, even the small steps and they will help to push you forward. There is a mental truth to weight loss or any fitness program and it’s important to remember to work on that as well. Appreciate that you aren’t a personal trainer and your tailored workouts are the best you can do. Learn everything you can from a wide variety of sources, consulting the experts where possible as well!