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Simple Tips to Stick to a Workout Plan

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Whether you're starting or returning to the gym after a long absence, here are a few simple tips to stick to a workout plan.

Working out is hard; sticking to a workout plan can be even more complicated if you start alone without guidance. Early on in my fitness journey, I tried a bit of everything. Horrible diet plans, workout name it, I tried it. It wasn't until I figured out that the adage "failing to plan is planning to fail" was more accurate than not. As hard a fitness journey can be, we tend to overcomplicate it, mudding the simplicity and sabotaging efforts before they have a chance to lock in.

Here are a few simple things to help you start, restart, or try in your current journey.

Tip #1 - Find a way to track your progress

The workout plan I created and shared with you is formatted so you can plug in your weight and reps with each workout so you're not relying on your memory. Each workout week should show some progression. It would be best to increase your weights or reps (until you quickly max the reps I suggested) each week and have a place to check this information. I have used Google Sheets to do this, but being a more textile person, I found exercise journals more to my liking. Here's a link to the journal I use. It's simple, no frills, and gets the job done.

Others allow for food tracking if you don't use an online food journal, like so:

(I promise once I figure out this blogging a little better, it'll be less

Whatever you do in this first week, use whatever method you feel is the simplest, but keep track of your workouts. Weights, reps, how you felt during the exercise, notes to remind yourself for the next week, etc... This helps keep you accountable, and you will have physical proof you are progressing on days you don't feel like you're making any.

Tip #2 - Take It Easy The First Week

There is no need to go balls to the wall your first week into starting a new plan. You'll end up sore, injured, and possibly quitting before you begin. Use this first week to lock down movements, gain a rhythm of moving from exercise to exercise, perfect your form, and find a baseline weight to start from. Once you start rolling through workout plans, consider this a deload week to pull back on intensity and get active rest before challenging yourself for another few weeks.

Tip #3 - When In Doubt, Ask

There's NOTHING wrong with being confused or needing extra guidance regarding an exercise or a workout plan. To this day, I still Google what a movement should look like, how it changes due to a particular machine or free-weight use, or how I can modify it to work for me.

Tip #4 - Look Ahead

Plan for your week. Look at your week & ask yourself how many days you want to work out and how many days you can realistically make it work. For example, this week, I have two screenings I have to attend and a 5-day workout plan. Naturally, my two rest days will be my movie days. It isn't ideal, but I will try to get steps in or some dynamic stretching because I know I can't get to the gym on those days. I also know I have to go those other four non-movie days. I have no excuse, and it becomes an appointment that I block off time. Now, something can come up and throw that schedule into flux. I can't see into the future, but I can look ahead the best I can and figure out a plan. I don't just throw up my hands and chuck the whole week. I assess and see what I can fix to account for future disturbances.

Tip #5 - Patience

Slow down and breathe. Weightlifting isn't a race. Your workout time is a time to meditate, be mindful, and marvel at your body's capabilities. Taking longer rest breaks than you might be accustomed to lets you tackle the next set with regained strength. (Where did the 60-second rest break ever originate?) The goal is to build muscle (if you're in a calorie maintenance or bulking) or lessen muscle loss (if in a cut). Endurance and cardiovascular training is a different plan. It's a worthy goal, but my workout plan is for strength training.

Keep It Simple

Planning, patience, and take it easy. Get the basics right. These are a few tips I must remind myself each week, each time I start a new workout plan. Not even the most logical, seasoned fitness freak should pretend to have this all on lock. Those of us who have been at this for a while or studied this topic don't even have all the answers. But these simple reminders should help.

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