Do you ever find yourself not making the best of your time spent in the gym? Are your gains and performance level not quite what you expected? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this will help you solve those problems. It is highly recommended to have an annual gym workout plan in place to maintain your progression in the gym while giving your workouts direction and purpose.
By having a planned routine for gym workout ready, you can avoid the plateau in performance that leads to a loss of the motivation and desire needed to make the gym an effective and rewarding experience. When most people hit this point they get bored of workouts and even stop going to the gym all together, as they feel that their efforts don’t make a difference.
The best workout plan is one that encompasses an entire year, to provide structure and targets that must be met at certain times of the year to keep your motivation high and performance at it’s sharpest. It also allows you to plan out a variety of different exercises that will keep the gym fresh and interesting while working towards your ultimate goal.
How to make your annual gym workout plan
A year goes a long way, so the first thing you should do is divide that time into different stages and determine for each stage, with the help of a training diary, a goal and a specific work method.
Do you want to start going to the gym next year? When you face the calendar with the idea of making your annual gym workout plan, keep in mind these considerations and steps to follow:
1. Analyze the physical condition you are starting from and set a general goal
Be honest with yourself in regards to what level you are starting at, because the worst thing you can do is go too hard early and then spend the next sessions with diminished returns while you recover. Since this is ultimately your journey in fitness to take, you need to decide what it is you really want the acheive by the time the year ends.
It can be something as simple as transforming your body from skinny to muscular, but it might be worth having bigger targets and aspirations for your goals. For example, your challenge may be to lose a certain amount of weight, increase muscle mass in certain muscles, improve your physical endurance or arrive in the summer with an enviable six pack to show off your work. You could have all these goals in mind or just one, the choice is yours!
2. Divide the gym workouts planned for the whole year into medium and short cycles
Do not forget that it will take time and effort to see the results of your gym workout plan, as there is no substitute for hard work. A good idea to keep focused and motivated is to set quarterly goals and determine your workout sessions for each of them. Continuing with our example, a first outline of your plan would be:
- First trimester: a general tune-up to get your body accustomed to the workout routine with aerobic exercises to aid weight loss, increase cardiovascular capacity and overall endurance.
- Second trimester: strength training in the gym that combines exercises that help you to gain volume and then definition in muscles.
- Third trimester: individually focused strength training on the different muscle groups, with special emphasis on strengthening the core (if your goal is to achieve a 6 pack).
- Fourth trimester: cross training routine in which you will combine different aerobic maintenance activities with strength sessions in the gym.
3. Determine specific times and routines
Once the annual gym workout plan in the gym has been defined, it is time to go into detail and establish the number of weekly sessions and the rest! This is in addition to the type of exercises to include in sessions, as it is important to maintain a good variety. A good target to aim for would be to have 3 to 4 gym sessions a week in order to try and target the most amount of muscle groups in a week (you may pair muscle groups together in a workout session, like chest and back).
The key to good muscle building workout plans is consistency, so plan around what you think you can manage along with the other things in your life. If you are too busy on weekends to get to the gym, then plan only for sessions during the week. The amount of sessions you can do in a week does not matter as much as the consistency and effort put in to each one, so find the right balance for you and make sure you stick to it!
Tips to make your annual gym workout plan work
It must be emphasized that any workout plan for the gym must be personalized. There are numerous factors that you should take into account when making your own. Some tips that can help you make it are:
- Be flexible and realistic. Make sure to include the necessary rest periods as you build a workout plan. Life is unpredictable so you cannot guarentee that you will be able to follow the same routine each week. Just accept that you may not be able to do every session, and be flexibile in adapting to that. For example, if you can’t make a morning workout because of work, try to move that session to later at night. Think of a plan that, in principle, you can follow through.
- Include variety in your workouts. Going through a whole year repeating the same sessions can destroy any motivation you have for the gym. Most studies have found that the body will fully adapt to a specific stimulus it is subjected to in a period of approximately 8 to 12 weeks, after which you will notice a lack of progression between sessions. So it is important to cycle through full workouts sessions every 2 to 3 months to maintain growth. Utilise different types of training to recieve the best results!
- Mix up the resistance and intensity of the workouts. To make sure you are getting the optimal stimulus for muscle growth and definition, it’s important to alter the resistance and instensity of workouts between sessions. While you start your program, the intensity and resistance can be low, but the reps in the workouts will be high to induce metabolic stress. But between the weeks you can increase the intensity and resistance of the workout, while reducing the reps (keeping the same rest breaks) in order to form mechanical stress. Both mechanical stress and metabolic stress are crucial elements that work towards muscle growth and definition. An example of how this can be done is changing the equipment used every couple of weeks, like going from body weight to kettle bells after a few weeks.
- Keep an eye on other aspects that influence your plan. It is important to consider other things outside of the gym that can play a major role in your plan. One of the most influential things on your progess can be your diet, so it is important to have healthy eating habits in place that give you the fuel required to perform at your best. It may be worth consulting a nutrition expert to help provide an ideal diet for your plan.
- Consult your doubts with a personal trainer. If you are working with a personal trainer, which is highly recommended if you are starting out, they can help address any of your concerns and questions. They are the ones who will assess your needs and limitations and advise you on ideal exercises for your current capacity.