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7 Simple Ways to Make Your Workout Plan More Effective

Lose weight by following a simple plan to get in shape

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Updated May 29, 2014

running girl stretching

Simple steps make your workout more effective

Jordan Siemens/Stone/Getty Images

One of the best ways to get fit, lose weight and change your body composition is to combine both diet and exercise. While your eating plan will help you slim down, a well designed workout strategy will help you shape a lean, fit, attractive body.

So what makes a workout plan effective? A good exercise routine includes cardiovascular activity to burn extra calories with strength training to build and shape the muscles. These seven steps will help you set up a weight-loss exercise plan that works.

7 Steps to Create an Effective Workout Plan

  1. Be sure you are healthy enough for exercise. It is generally a good idea to visit your doctor to be sure that you are healthy enough for vigorous exercise. Even if there are physical barriers that prevent you from participating in some popular forms of exercise, your physician may be able to suggest modifications that can be made so that you can begin a workout plan.

    You may also want to connect with other experts at the beginning of your plan. If you have physical limitations or previous injuries, a physical therapist may be able to help. Or a visit with a personal trainer may be worth the investment, as well. A good trainer will assess your level of fitness, help you set goals that you'll actually reach and design a routine for you to follow. Some trainers will even perform metabolic testing to help you lose weight.

  2. Don't feel pressured to buy tools or gimmicks. New exercisers often try to find the best fat burning workouts or the trendiest new fitness tools.  But the most effective exercise is going to be the one that you do on a regular basis. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on a new gadget or gym membership.

    At the beginning of a new exercise plan, focus on building a fitness habit. Once regular exercise is part of your daily schedule you can make adjustments to burn more calories. But in the beginning, consistency is the key to success. So choose activities that you enjoy doing.

  3. Grab a few friends for company and accountability. One of the best predictors of success in a weight loss exercise plan is social support. If your friends make exercise more enjoyable, you are more likely to continue the habit. Friends will also help to hold you accountable.

    If your immediate circle of friends is not interested in participating in your new workout program, then look a little further. Would some co-workers like to join you for an aerobics class after the office? Perhaps you have neighbors that would be willing to put the kids in strollers and walk or run through the neighborhood. Learn now to get the support you need to make your plan a success.

  4. Get equipped with proper exercise clothing. Invest in a good pair of shoes, breathable workout clothing and other exercise essentials. You may want to avoid the big box retailers and go to a sport-specific store that is staffed by experts. Neighborhood walking and running stores are great resources. Often these smaller owner-operated stores have staff that are actively involved in the sport and can make specific recommendations for fit and wear.

    Once you make the initial purchase, make new workout shoes or clothing an incentive for continued success. Set short-term goals and reward yourself with a new outfit that will make you feel more comfortable and confident during future workouts.

  5. Write out a plan. It's easy to decide that you want to exercise. Getting it done is the hard part. There will always be another task, job or priority that can get in the way of your workout. To be sure that your workout remains a top priority, get out a calendar plan your meals and workouts each week.

    Once you have the plan in writing, post it in a highly visible spot. Let it serve as a constant reminder. Set out workout clothing and pack a gym bag the night before your workout.

  6. Vary your workouts. Exercise for weight loss should include aerobic activity to burn calories, strength training to builds muscle, and flexibility training to increase range of motion in the joints and decrease stress.

    When you schedule your weight-loss workouts, try to vary the activity that you do every day. For example, you may want to jog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays grab the bike and head to a park for some push-ups, lunges, and sit-ups. Stretch and balance in yoga on Sunday.

  7. Use active recovery days. Try to do something every day. That's right, no days off! Remember that when you schedule your workouts you will vary the type of activities you assign to each day. If you know you are going to do a longer or harder workout one day, schedule an easy workout, an active recovery, for the day after.

    Active recovery workouts get your blood pumping but are not vigorous. Easy lap swimming, a gentle yoga class, and a long walk with a friend could all be recovery day workouts.

Remember, the most important component of your new weight loss exercise plan is consistency. Maintain a healthy diet and focus on getting the workout completed each day. The healthy habits you build at this stage will keep you on track throughout your entire weight-loss experience.

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