Establishing a personal exercise plan that works for your goals and circumstances play a big part in whether you finally reach those goals. Magazines would have you believe one size fits all, whether you're young or old, male or female, too skinny or overweight. This is obviously not the case, so let's talk about the factors surrounding your personal exercise plan and how you can use this knowledge to compose a workable strategy.
Factors to Consider
General health matters, in that a person with high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems should steer clear of the more intense cardiovascular exercises, or at least until cleared by a doctor. Other examples are pre-existing injuries, weakened joints and so forth.
Age greatly affects the ability to train safely and recover. A teen that is still growing should avoid super heavy weights as this may stunt the growth zones in the bones. On the flip side, a 50 year old male has much lower levels of natural testosterone than a 20 year old, making recovery time that much longer.
Gender in general matters; women have stronger legs and hips in a pound-for-pound comparison, while men have naturally stronger upper bodies. That doesn't mean women should avoid upper body training. On the contrary, women should put extra effort into upper body training since it's a weak area to even things out.
Goals is perhaps the most important consideration after health. A person looking for weight loss should do lots of cardio with perhaps two weight training session per week to maintain muscle mass. A skinny person should do the opposite. He should do around two cardio sessions per week to maintain heart health and then put the rest of the efforts in weight training.
Composing Your Personal Exercise Plan
Ok, so let's put your factors into some kind of context. Here's a weekly schedule with slots to be filled based on your situation.
Weight training for everyone. Weight loss goals, very young or older people go easy with a low to medium intensity circuit training routine. Skinny people do the first part of a three-day body split, training chest and arms. Women looking to even things out opt for fairly heavy weights.
Cardio training for everyone. Light work on the elliptical trainer, swimming or similar low-impact stuff for elderly or those with poor health. Skinny people opt for interval training, which boosts strength.
Those looking for weight gain do another weight workout, this time hitting back, shoulders and abs. People with back problems generally benefit from stronger abs, making this a top priority. Meanwhile, the weight loss folks does another cardio day, putting in time on the treadmill or jogging trail.
Weight training for everyone. The skinny people round the week out with legs, while the others do another bout of circuit training, same as Monday.
Rest day for everyone.
Cardio training for everyone, similar to Tuesday except this is the day to put in max efforts since it's sandwiched between two rest days. That can mean more interval training, higher speed on cardio machines or longer sessions. For people in poor health or otherwise unsuited to higher impact training, the last option is obviously the best.
Rest day for everyone.