What most people do: They wait. They are overwhelmed at the thought of having to create a workout schedule and actually start exercising. How are they going to squeeze exercise into their lives, when they don’t have time to work out? They avoid answering this question, letting months or years go by without them doing anything.
What more sophisticated or tired-of-waiting people do: Sure, they might not know how to make the best workout schedule for themselves, but they will still go for it. They arbitrarily decide on a workout schedule, say, go to yoga 3 times a week. If they find themselves having to difficulty to stick to it, many people assume it’s their fault. They think they are lazy exercisers, or that they need someone to hold them “accountable”. Sometimes they just end up quitting, assuming that they are not “cut out” for this.
What even more sophisticated people do: Sure, they might not know how to make the best workout schedule for themselves, but they will still go for it. They arbitrarily decide on a workout schedule, say, go to yoga 3 times a week. If they find it difficult to stick to it, they tweak their schedule and try again. They might go to different yoga classes, or limit their yoga attendance to twice a week and, e.g., add one home workout.
The truth is…
There is no absolute “best” or “perfect”. There is only “perfect” for any given time.
You see what works for you this month, might not work for you next month.
When I was designing the content for my 10-week habit-making course Exercise Bliss, I did countless iterations. One example:
And another one:
It’s not that each one of those iterations was imperfect. It was the perfect iteration for that time that I was designing it. At that time, I couldn’t have created a better outline for the course.
Similarly, the workout schedule that you create right now is the best plan you can create. Now, if you find that something is not working as expected, then you might re-examine the plan and try to create a better one. The new one will again be the best plan you can create at this new point in time.
9 rules to make the perfect workout schedule
1. Don’t be afraid to get started, even though you feel you haven’t thought things through…enough.
2. Eliminate barriers that may sabotage your success. Have your workout bag ready before you actually need to go to the gym. Have an after-gym snack prepared before you feel hungry for a snack. Make it as easy as possible for you to follow through.
3. Have a plan B workout. When timing does not work out, then do something small. Sure you might not have 1 hour to exercise, but what about doing 1 set of push-ups? Do you have time for that? Yes, you do. Don’t sacrifice your exercise momentum. Not even when you are on holidays.
4. Don’t be afraid to get started with something small. Even Luke Skywalker from Star Wars did not start practicing “The Force” with big things. He also started small. If movie heroes have to start small to succeed, then why should you start big?
5. Don’t assume it’s your fault if you are skipping workouts. Instead, try to make it easier for you to follow through. Go as easy as you can possibly go.
6. You don’t need to actually exercise to…exercise. Here are 24 ways to work out with actually exercising.
7. Exercise is not just what is included in your workout schedule. It’s also anything that you do to move your body. Did you know that sitting kills? Sitting for multiple hours a day dramatically increases your mortality risk, hence sitting less is a very good goal to move more and add years to your life.
8. Make sure you are not accidentally ruining your posture with the exercises you have chosen. Yup, that’s something that can happen if the exercises you have chosen are not balanced.
9. Break the rules. No you don’t have to exercise for 30 minutes straight. No, you don’t have to at least exercise three times a week. NO, you don’t have to spend 45 minutes on the treadmill. No, you don’t have to do things that are boring, because those things “work”. The only thing that matters is to…
create a workout schedule that you can actually be consistent with, regardless whether it is “fancy”, “enough”, “targets the right body-parts”, “burns calories” or not.
Once you achieve that, once you make exercise a habit, then you can start thinking about how to add more exercise.