Fitness routines are an important part of your day! I know the feeling, each day of the week seems longer than the one before it and all you want to do is lay in bed and watch your favorite movies. This becomes even harder when you’re a college student, maybe even with a part-time job. Add in extra-curricular activities and social life and how in the world are you supposed to get to the gym now?
It is incredibly difficult to plan a routine that works around your schedule so that you can actually make it to the gym. It takes a great deal of trial and error and depending on what curriculum you are working through in your classes, you may have to give up on the idea of going to the gym at all that day. But we have goals, so we have to navigate our way around this. Here are some tips for planning around your busy routines:
1. Decide on morning or night workouts
It is important to decide when is a better time for you to workout. If you are a night person trying to work out in the mornings, you are more than likely going to end up sleeping right through those alarms. To develop a fitness routine, you need consistency, so if pick the morning if you are great at waking up early. Or pick the night if you have classes or work earlier in the mornings. Whichever you choose, try to stick to that routine so that your body can adjust and so that you can accustom your mindset to it.
2. Decide on your workout split
What is your fitness goal? Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? A combination of the two? This is how you will build you split. If you are trying to lose weight and want to only focus on cardio then you can plan for cardio workouts three to five days a week. If you want to gain muscle then this takes slightly more thought. If you’re growing your lower body, you will have to spend more of your days focusing on those muscle groups. However, if you are focused on the upper body then that would be your focus. Not to mention, you must decide how many days you are going to go in a week.
Whichever muscle groups you have chosen, you will have to work for those groups one to two days more than the others. You can decide to keep a balance if you are looking to maintain your body and grow your body as a whole. In this case, you would have to spend two, four, or six days a week in the gym to all muscle groups proper attention. It sounds like a lot of thought to put into a simple routine but once you know what you will be focusing on, you can then pick the days of the week you will be working out and which muscle groups will be your focus that day. As an example, fitness routines that are focused on the lower body would look like this:
Day 1: Lower
Day 2: Upper
Day 3: Lower
Day 4: Upper
Day 5: Lower
This would, of course, include breaks in-between days.
3. Plan lighter workouts on heavier days
Imagine trying to motivate yourself to do a heavy workout after a shift at work and three classes. I’m sure that that is the last thing you want to do. That’s why I suggest planning ahead for the days you have more classes and work and pick a lighter workout. This could mean a shorter workout, lighter lifting, or a small workout that focuses on cardio and abs. The workout you plan all depends on your goals, but in order to set yourself up for success, you have to plan for the way you will feel that day. I love to think that I will get myself up at 6 am for a morning workout before a long shift at work, but that is not my reality.
4. When to take days off
If going lighter on days that are busy for you still is not enough, you may have to consider making those your days off from the gym. It’s important to be aware of yourself and how you are feeling. It could be that your mind and body are way too exhausted to go to the gym and give it your all. What you want to avoid is a fitness schedule where you have days off but the days you do work out, you aren’t giving it your all. Progress will come much slower this way. Personally, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my busiest days, I used to work out on them, but now I will either do lighter days or not workout at all if I feel that I won’t be able to put my all into the workout.
5. 30 minutes a day
Even on your rest days, try to get at least 30 minutes of some form of activity. It could be a jog around campus, an evening walk with a friend, or even a HIIT session. The goal is to keep your body moving, whatever that means to you. I know, you’re probably wondering about your rest days. But this isn’t what I would call a heavy workout, it’s something small so you can say you moved your body today. The activity gives us energy and overall a more positive mindset. So even if it’s a rest day, just take a walk. This is my favorite thing to do on rest days because it’s not exercise to me–it’s just taking time to think and get some fresh air. This time could also make up for a missed session you had that week.
6. Schedule it
If worse comes to worst, you have to schedule it. We schedule everything else in our lives from lunch with friends to doctor’s appointments to classes and study sessions. If this is going to be a priority for you, you may have to pencil it in. If you see that you marked it down and it’s something you are making time for then why not this too? I know what you’re thinking, how do you schedule something that is a commitment to no one but yourself? But it’s a commitment you’re making to yourself. Remember that part of How the Grinch Stole Christmas when Jim Carey schedules dinner with himself and doesn’t want to cancel on himself? This is the same concept. If you make a deal with yourself, you might keep it–especially when it comes to fitness routines!