Getting a workout routine in place is the best way to ensure you stay the course with your exercise plans. However, finding the routine that works for you and your schedule can be difficult.
Not only does it take time to get into a routine that will stick, but finding something that comes naturally and easily, without upsetting the rest of your schedule can also present problems.
Like preparing to host a party or go on a trip, this is not something that happens without planning.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours planning—simply take a few minutes to write out your schedule, find gaps each day, and insert your workout in those spaces. Or you can choose a general time of day that works best for you most days of the week and stick with that.
These following three workout routines are the most common times to workout. Consider which one might best fit your schedule.
The Morning Routine
- Get your workout out of the way first thing in the morning.
- Feel great the rest of the day.
- Motivated to eat healthier all day.
- Feeling of having already been productive before 10am—yes, please.
If you’re not a morning person, you may want to skip this one altogether; I encourage you to give it a try—I personally know that if I don’t workout in the morning, it won’t happen—but if you don’t like getting up early, morning workout routines will fizzle out quick.
If this is truly the only time that works, but you don’t like waking up early, decide on a workout time and push yourself to stick with it. The longer you do it, the more normal it becomes, and that’s when your workout routine becomes something you rely on, not something that’s inconvenient or annoying.
– Choose a gym close to your office, where you can shower and get ready, so you’re not distracted by dishes and a messy bedroom. This allows you to make the most of the short time you have in the morning; shower, get ready at the gym, and head straight to work.
– Instead of spending time going to and from the gym, make the most of your pre-work hours by doing an at-home workout.
– Leave clothes out the night before. This small act makes a big difference in the morning, when all you want to do is stay in bed.
– Put your alarm across the room so you have to get up. Once you’re up, the hardest part is over.
– Give yourself 15 minutes to wake up before heading out. This way you’re more awake and ready for the workout. Use this time to have a small snack with protein, fat and carbs. Try one piece of toast with almond butter and jam; half an apple or banana with peanut butter; cereal.
The Lunch Routine
- You’re more awake, and likely more motivated to work out.
- You have more fuel in your body, so strength workouts may feel better.
- You’ll feel more awake all afternoon—Bye, afternoon slump!
Lunch workout routines are great if you work close to your gym, or have a park and shower options nearby. One downfall: If work gets busy, the first thing you’ll likely toss out the window is your workout. However, if your boss allows you to be flexible with your lunch hour, you can take it earlier or later to work around those potential snags.
– Keep your gym bag close by, not in your car. The closer it is, the less likely you are to blow it off: “Ugh, my gym bag is in the car and I don’t feel like getting it… I’ll just workout later tonight.” But will you really? Probably not.
– Plan your workout time at the beginning of the day, depending on what your workload and meeting schedule looks like. Add it to your to-do list so it becomes another item to check off before moving on.
The Evening Routine
- You’ve been fueling your body all day, so strength workouts may feel better.
- You can work of stress from the day.
- If you live in a high-traffic area, you miss the worst of it during your workout.
- Unless you have plans, you don’t have to rush through your workout.
For people who like to sleep in and work long, busy days, this may be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, evening workouts are easily pushed to the side when dinner with friends or a late night at the office comes up unexpectedly. Still, if this is your only option, it’s just as good as any other option.
– Be flexible, changing rest days depending on what your post-work plans look like.
– Go right from work to the gym or workout location. Once you get home, motivating yourself to change and go back out for your session is difficult.
– Bring a snack to have before. It’s easy to skip a workout because you’re too hungry.
Sticking With ANY Workout Routine: The Trifecta
Plan, Schedule Smart, Be Flexible
Plan your workout ahead of time—but don’t just say to yourself, “I’m going to the gym” or “I’m gong to run.” Instead, plan the specifics. Write the workout you plan to do at the gym, decide how long you’ll run and what route you’ll take, etc. The more specific you are, the less opportunities there are to bail, the more likely you are to follow through.
Choose a time that ACTUALLY works with your schedule. For example, you may think, “I want to be a morning person,” and plan morning workouts. While there’s no harm in trying, and pushing yourself (because I do believe once you take the time to get into a routine it gets easier and easier), if you’re continually missing your workout because you can’t get out of bed, then its probably a bad time to workout.
Be flexible. If work gets busy and you can’t make your lunch hour workout happen, plan to do it after work or switch your rest days around so you can do it the following day, for example. Things happen, life is crazy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.
In the end, maybe a mix or morning, lunch and evening workout routines end up working best for you. All that matters is that you make it work. With a little planning and flexibility, you’ll be working out regularly in no time.