Monday, August 13, 2012

What's the Definition of Insanity? Part III: The Beauty of a Schedule

While goal setting and program development are critical for improved fitness, the real beauty of goal setting and program development is scheduling. If I had a dime for every client who told me they didn't exercise because they "don't have time", I'd have a lot of dimes. I think one of the reasons people feel they "don't have time" for exercise is because they can often feel aimless when it comes to exercise. When you don't have a goal and don't have a program, you don't really know how long to exercise, what to do or how often to do it. When we are directionless, in exercise and in life, I find we often do nothing.

Programming for your fitness goals greatly increases the chances that you will have time for exercise and you will in fact do it. Exercise is more beneficial when you actually exercise.

Let me use my own programming as an example. I just began a new strength training program last week. It's an 8 week program and involves 4 days/week of the back squat and bench press. Two of those days are "light" and as such, don't require a heck of a lot of time in the gym. The remaining two days are heavy on the volume and require significantly more time in the gym -- around 90 minutes. Since I have a program and can see what is required of me each week, I can schedule my workouts into my weekly calendar. My lighter days will be mid-week and the longer days on Fridays and Sundays when I have more free time.

This friends, is the value of programming: the ability to plan your exercise sessions in advance.

When you schedule a meeting, what do you do? Chances are you look at your calendar, coordinate with others who need to attend the meeting, pick a convenient time and then mark it on your calendar so you don't schedule anything else during that time and create a conflict. Chances are that this scheduling takes place at least a few days in advance of said meeting.

Scheduling your exercise sessions should work the exact same way. Meetings are important -- important for your career, your family, your education; and exercise is important -- for all those same reasons, plus your health and wellbeing. You want to schedule time in your life for all important things. At least for me, if I don't schedule it, it doesn't get done.

When it comes to my exercise schedule I sit down Sunday evening and map-out the upcoming week. I look at my training program to see how many days I need to workout and what the workouts entail. I schedule "easier" (read: shorter) workouts during the work week, and longer ones on weekends. I coordinate with my husband to see when he's going to workout so at least a couple times per week we can train together. I look at my class schedule, work schedule, puppy schedule and then I put my workouts on the calendar at times that are convenient. This way, just like if I had a meeting, I get a friendly reminder email from Google telling me it will be time to hit the gym in 15 minutes.

I strongly recommend this approach. No, strongly isn't a strong enough word. I emphatically encourage? Still doesn't sound like enough. Beg, borrow and steal? The context may be off... In any case, I have found that the key to progressive fitness over time is to create a program and then stick with it by creating a weekly schedule of workouts. When you know what to expect from your training sessions and you know when those training sessions will occur, you will find that miraculously, you do have time to exercise.

And with that I'll have to end this post, my Google calendar just reminded me I have a workout in 15 minutes.

Posted by Rachel May
School of Health Sciences


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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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