What is the Correct Way to Start a Fitness Plan?

May 3, 2022
personal trainer measuring waist size as part of fitness plan

Are you ready to start your fitness journey, but not sure where to begin? It's a common feeling, but it's important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. No matter your current fitness level or your ultimate goals, there are a couple of key steps you should follow to set yourself up for success.

By focusing on your diet, assessing your health and fitness levels, setting achievable goals, and listening to your body, you can create a sustainable fitness routine. This routine will help you achieve your goals and improve your overall health. It's not always easy, but the benefits – both physical and mental – are well worth the effort.

So, let's get started! Here are the steps you should follow to create a successful fitness plan.

Begin With Your Diet

The saying "you are what you eat" is especially relevant in your fitness plan. Even if you exercise a lot, you won't see results if you don't fuel your body with the right nutrients. That's why it's important to begin your fitness journey by examining your diet. It plays a crucial role in your fitness plan and overall health.

First, assess your current eating habits. Do you mostly eat processed, convenience foods, or do you try to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins? If you mostly eat processed foods, it's time to make some changes.

Incorporate more whole, unprocessed foods into your diet for better results. Aim for a balanced plate with protein, complex carbs, and colorful fruits and veggies. Protein options include chicken, fish, tofu, or legumes. Good complex carbs to try are quinoa, sweet potatoes, or brown rice.

It's also essential to pay attention to portion sizes. Even healthy foods can contribute to weight gain if you eat more than your body needs. Use measuring cups or a food scale to track your portions. Eating slowly and mindfully also helps your body register when it's full.

You are what you eat.

-Proverb

Assess Your Health and Fitness Levels

measuring fitness level for fitness plan

Before you start a new fitness routine, it's important to have a good understanding of your current health and fitness levels. This will help you set realistic goals and avoid overdoing it (more on that later).

One way to assess your fitness level is to track your heart rate during exercise. You can use a heart rate monitor (which can be a watch, chest strap, or even a smartphone app) to see how hard you're working based on your age and fitness level.

You can also perform simple fitness tests to gauge your endurance and strength. The "talk test" involves seeing if you can hold a conversation while exercising. If you're too winded to speak in complete sentences, you're working too hard. The "push-up test" involves seeing the number of push-ups you can do in one minute. A good benchmark for men is 35-40, and for women it's 20-25.

Set Yourself Goals and Targets

Now that you have a better understanding of your current fitness level, it's time to set some goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound – also known as SMART goals.

A SMART goal example is "I will run a 5K in under 30 minutes by the end of the year." This goal is:

smart goals written on blackboard to aid fitness plan
  • Specific (running a 5K)
  • Measurable (finishing in under 30 minutes)
  • Achievable (if you're currently running shorter distances in a similar time frame)
  • Relevant (a 5K is a common distance for runners)
  • Time-bound (the end of the year gives you a deadline to work towards).

It's important to have both short-term and long-term goals to stay motivated and on track. Write down your goals and put them somewhere visible, like on your fridge or in your planner, to keep them top of mind.

Don't Push Yourself Too Hard

While it's important to challenge yourself and push your limits to see progress in your fitness plan, it's also crucial to listen to your body and avoid overdoing it. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to burnout, injury, and even negative effects on your mental health.

To avoid overtraining, make sure to incorporate rest days into your fitness routine. These days should be used to allow your muscles to recover and rebuild, and can involve activities like yoga, stretching, or simply taking a walk.

It's also important to pay attention to your body's warning signs. If you're experiencing excessive fatigue, muscle soreness, or a decrease in performance, it may be time to take a break or dial back your intensity. Remember, it's better to take a step back and recover than to push through and risk injury.

Conclusion

In conclusion, starting a fitness plan can be a daunting task, but it's also a rewarding one. By following these key steps – focusing on your diet, assessing your health and fitness levels, setting SMART goals, and listening to your body – you can set yourself up for success and create a sustainable fitness routine that will help you achieve your goals and improve your overall health.

Remember, your fitness journey is just that – a journey. It's important to be patient and consistent, and to give yourself credit for the progress you make along the way. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately, or if you have setbacks. Keep pushing yourself and stay motivated, and you'll be well on your way to reaching your fitness goals.

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