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How to Create a Personal Fitness Plan

By William McCoy

Creating a personal fitness plan requires a commitment to positively improving your overall health. Once you've made your health a key priority, it's time to identify your fitness goals, make realistic plans about how to achieve those goals and commit to ensuring balance in your workouts. Once you begin to exercise, be open to making adjustments to your fitness plan to maximize your chance of success.

Set Fitness Goals

Personal fitness plans can be the blueprint to help you lose weight, gain muscle or both. Think about how you want to change your physical health. Perhaps it's time to lose that belly fat or maybe you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness enough to join a local soccer league. Make a list of your fitness priorities -- writing them down affirms your commitment -- and be realistic. Sure, you might want to lose 75 pounds, but doing so won't happen overnight. Remember, it's OK to change your goals as you go.

Choose Your Exercises

Evaluate the exercises that will help you achieve your fitness goals. For example, if weight loss is your goal, aim to get a minimum of 150 minutes -- and ideally, at least 300 minutes -- of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, every week. If you want to build beach-worthy muscles, buy a gym membership and familiarize yourself with free weights, weight machines and body-weight exercises. As you think about the exercises you plan to perform, realistically consider how you can include them in your daily routine. If you don't have time for a 60-minute gym visit, consider performing calisthenics early in the morning and taking a walk during your lunch break

Strive for Balance

Although you might gravitate toward certain exercises to help you reach your goals, always ensure your fitness plan is balanced. Don't rely too heavily on cardio or strength training alone; your regimen should include a combination of these two forms of exercise. For cardio, blend exercises at various intensity levels, such as walking, swimming, bicycling and using an elliptical trainer at the gym. For strength training a specific muscle group, vary your workouts. For example, build your quads with a combination of body-weight and weighted squats and lunges and using the leg press at the gym. For strength training, you should always exercise all your major muscle groups to keep your body in balance.

Be Flexible

Ambition is important in fitness, but having lofty goals that you fail to meet can be discouraging. Begin your workout regimen slowly, especially if you're previously led an inactive life. Don't quit an activity just because it's challenging. Instead, look for a suitable alternative. For example, if you can't walk for 60 minutes, aim for four 15-minute walks. Recruit fitness-minded friends to occasionally join you in your workout, as variety helps stave off workout boredom. Revisit your fitness plan after a week and gauge whether it's realistic or whether it needs some slight adjustments.

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