How to Create a Complete Personal Fitness Program

Updated on September 3, 2018
JR Cuevas profile image

John Ray is a fitness enthusiast. He is interested in topics related to health, fitness, and exercise. He loves to share his knowledge.

Create a fitness plan to help you meet your health goals.
Create a fitness plan to help you meet your health goals. | Source

A complete personal fitness plan consists of activities you enjoy and exercises that will help you improve where you most need it. What the program specifically includes depends on your current physical fitness, including your body composition, weight, height, age, cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility.

By carefully developing your plan, you will increase your chances of success. Below is a step-by-step guide that will help you create an exercise program that is right for you.

Set attainable fitness goals.
Set attainable fitness goals. | Source

1. Set Goals

"What do I want from my fitness program?"

This is the first thing you should ask yourself when developing your fitness plan. You have to set your goals—both general and specific, as well as long term and short term.

General or long-term goals might include lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes; improving your posture; having more energy; and fitting better in your clothes.

It is also a good idea to develop some specific short-term goals based on measurable factors. Specific goals might include reducing the time it takes you to jog a certain distance from 30 minutes to 25 minutes, increasing the number of push-ups you can do from 10 to 15, and lowering your BMI from 25.8 to 24.6.

As a preliminary step in setting your goals, you must determine the current state of your physical fitness. There are two necessary evaluations to conduct in determining this—the health component and athletic component.

The health assessment includes your BMI, muscular strength and endurance tests, flexibility tests, and physiological tests. The athletic assessment, on the other hand, involves anthropometric analysis and muscular strength analysis.

Health Assessment Example

A. Measurement of Body Composition

  • Body Mass
  • Stature

B. Muscular Strength and Endurance Tests

  • Partial Curl-Ups
  • Trunk Lift
  • 90-Degree Push-Ups

C. Flexibility Tests

  • Sit-and-Reach
  • Shoulder Stretch

D. Cardiovascular Fitness Test

  • 1-Kilometer Run/Walk

Athletic Assessment Example

A. Anthropometric Measurements

  • Sitting Height
  • Arm Span

B. Muscular Power Test

  • Standing Long Jump
  • Basketball Pass
  • 50-Meter Sprint

The results of your physical fitness tests are essential to determine your goals. The results will help you decide which types of exercises you should focus on, and help you understand the relative difficulty of attaining those goals.

Having specific goals will allow you to track your progress and enjoy the measurable changes brought about by your fitness program. Even if you occasionally lose ground, you will be able to accomplish everything if you stick to your plan.

Cycling is a great sport to improve your cardiovascular endurance.
Cycling is a great sport to improve your cardiovascular endurance. | Source

2. Choose Your Exercise Regimen

The next thing you need to consider in your fitness plan is what activities you're going to do. It is usually best to include different exercises that will help you improve each of the following fitness components:

Cardiovascular Endurance

Do at least three 15-minute bouts of continuous aerobic rhythmic exercises each week. Aerobic activities include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and jump rope.

Muscular Strength

A minimum of two 20-minute sessions per week that consist of exercises that engage all the major muscle groups. Lifting weights is the most effective way to increase strength.

Muscular Endurance

At least three 30-minute sessions per week that include exercises such as calisthenics—such as push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups—and weight training for all the major muscle groups.

Flexibility

Take 10 to 12 minutes each day to stretch slowly, without bouncing into the movement. This can be done after your warm-up or during your cool-down.

Maintaining a Healthy Body

Combine a healthy diet with your regular exercise. Include both cardiovascular endurance exercises to burn calories and resistance training to build muscle mass.

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to keeping your fitness plan on track.
Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to keeping your fitness plan on track. | Source

What to Consider While Choosing Your Activity

Instead of turning exercise into a chore, select activities that support your commitment to the plan. Consider the following factors when making your choices:

Fun and Interest

Your fitness program plan is much more likely to be successful if you choose activities that you enjoy doing. Consider activities that you presently participate in and enjoy. Often, you can modify your current hobbies to suit your fitness regimen.

Your Current Ability and Fitness Level

Although many activities are appropriate for beginners, some sports require an intermediate level of skill to provide you with fitness benefits. The book Physical Fitness for Practically Everybody by Kusinitz and Fine has a summary of different sports and activities that suit different needs. This book will help you determine if you have the minimum level of fitness required to participate in the sports that you are considering.

Time and Convenience

Unless exercise fits into your daily schedule, you are unlikely to maintain your program over the long term. As you consider what activity to do, think about if you have to do it particular location or facility.

Cost

Some sports and activities require special equipment, membership fees, or another kind of expense. If you are on a tight budget, limit yourself to exercises that are inexpensive or free.

Special Health Needs

If you have special exercise needs due to a particular health problem, choose activities that suit your needs and accommodate your problem. If necessary, consult a doctor.

3. Set a FITT Target for Each Activity

FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. Apply the FITT principle and set a starting frequency, intensity, and duration for each type of activity you have chosen.

Type of Exercise
Frequency
Intensity
Time
Cardiovascular Endurance
3 to 5 times a week
Depends on your target heart rate zone
20 to 60 minutes, depending on your skill level (20-30 minutes for beginners and 30-60 minutes for intermediate to advanced athletes)
Muscular Strength and Endurance
2 to 3 days per week
One or more sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of 8 to 10 exercises
30 seconds to 5 minutes
Flexibility
At least 2 to 3 days per week
4 repetitions per exercise
10 to 30 seconds
Sit-ups are a good test of muscular endurance
Sit-ups are a good test of muscular endurance | Source

4. Set up a System of Mini Goals and Rewards

To keep your program on track, it is necessary to have goals and rewards. Break your specific goals into several steps and establish a target date for each.

For example, if one of your goals is to improve your upper body strength and endurance, you could use a push-up test to set your intermediate goals. If you currently perform ten push-ups, doing 12, 15, and then 20 push-ups can be your intermediate goals.

Meeting a small series of goals is more satisfying than working toward a single, more challenging goal that may take months to achieve. Realistic goals, broken into achievable mini goals, can boost your chances of success.

5. Engage in a Lifestyle Physical Activity

Your daily physical activity level plays a significant part in having a fit and healthy lifestyle. Think of ways you could be more active as you go about your daily routine.

6. Monitor Your Progress

A record that tracks your daily progress will help remind you of your ongoing commitment to your program and give you a sense of accomplishment.

If you have specific, measurable goals, you can graph your weekly or monthly progress toward your goal. To monitor the overall development of your fitness program, you may choose to reassess your cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition every three months or so.

Since the results of different tests vary, be sure to compare results for the same assessment over time. Here are some tools that can help you monitor the progress of your fitness program.

  • Before-and-after pictures
  • A workout log
  • How clothes fit
  • Keeping a food journal
  • Physical measurements
  • Performance assessments
  • Routine health screenings

7. Make a Commitment

The final step in planning your program is making a commitment. Sign a contract with yourself. Find a witness for this, preferably someone who will be actively involved in your plan. Place your agreement in a visible area to remind you of your commitment.

Fitness is like a relationship. You can’t cheat and expect it to work.

— Brinutrition

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 John Ray

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      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        2 months ago from Philippines

        Hey, Miebakagh. It's been a while. I am actually focusing on school right now but I seldom visit my HubPages account to check how my hubs are doing. Fortunately, better than before. Hope you're having a great time.

      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        2 months ago from Philippines

        Hey, Sir Eric. Great progress, Sir. You can do your resistance training for about two to three times a week. It'll really improve your muscular strength and endurance.

        If you are really planning to gain weight, 3000 calories per day is perfect. Goodluck with your trainings and balanced diet.

      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        2 months ago from Philippines

        Thank you Rachel Leigh. This fitness plan is really effective.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I told you I would be back. I have pretty good very short HIIT, building gradually to integrate more.

        My health coach said to get back into more resistance training. I am at a happy plateau just above a perfect weight. If they have a group known as big boned -- I win. But the muscle mass replacing old flab is a problem for further loss.

        What do you say. (diet is perfect) 3K calorie burn per day with about 1800 intake.

      • rachel-leigh profile image

        Rachel Leigh 

        2 months ago from North Carolina

        Good resource for those new to fitness plans. Thanks for sharing

      • Miebakagh57 profile image

        Miebakagh Fiberesima 

        2 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

        For all feedbacks, I a say big thank you to all.

      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        3 months ago from Philippines

        Thank you very much, Sir Eric! I am glad my article helps you with your regimen. Have a great day!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        great stuff here. I am just getting back into a regimen and found this very helpful. I lost a lot of weight recently and need to get that muscle mass back up. Thanks

      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        3 months ago from Philippines

        Hi, Miebakagh. I included the links in the references section. Thanks again. Have a great day!

      • Miebakagh57 profile image

        Miebakagh Fiberesima 

        3 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

        Hi JR, the modification plan you intend sounds right. Let me have a link to the FITT, so I can use the linkin some of my fitness hubs. Many thanks, and have a nice time hubbing!

      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        3 months ago from Philippines

        Thanks, Miebakagh. I modified the table already. Have a great day!

      • JR Cuevas profile imageAUTHOR

        John Ray 

        3 months ago from Philippines

        Hi, Miebakagh. Actually, I got the information from the FITT Principle for Cardiovascular Fitness. It was stated that the time for exercise is from 20 minutes to 60 minutes. I'll just modify the time for workouts for beginners and for moderate to high-intensities to eliminate the confusion.

      • Miebakagh57 profile image

        Miebakagh Fiberesima 

        3 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

        Hello Jojn Ray, I like your article. It speaks my mind. However, I think if you add all the time period for exercise in a week, don't you think it exceeds a little? For example, 60 minutes for a cardio exercise, right? Some will take that to prove how strong they are. And that in the long run will cause ill-health. Better you modified it to 30 minutes maximum. Many thanks.

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