The Key To Having The Best Workout Plan

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The key to having the best workout plan is to track your progress. Your workout plan needs to include a fitness test and here’s why:

  • it keeps you motivated to push yourself during your workouts because you know you need to gain strength for the next test
  • it is motivating to see your results when the inch loss and weight loss are not as dramatic as you might like
  • it’s a way to measure whether your workout plan is working or not
  • it gives you a goal to shoot for and a reason to celebrate when you achieve it

What I like about the type of fitness testing I’m going to share with you is that it is not about you competing with someone else and it’s not about you competing against a “standard for your age group”. It’s about you competing with yourself.  It’s about you becoming better and fitter and stronger!  Plus, you don’t need any fancy equipment, just a mat, a stair or step and a stopwatch.

The most important thing to remember when doing your own fitness test in your workout plan is to never sacrifice your form.  You want to push yourself to get the best result but if you do it with bad form, you are cheating (and possibly injuring) yourself.

Exercise #1: Count your Push Ups in one minute

Do as many push ups as you can in one minute.  You can do these on your toes or your knees or even a combination of both.  If you do a combination of both try to remember how many you did on your toes before you dropped to your knees. 

Proper form: Your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your back is straight.  Once your form gets sloppy – stop!

Exercise #2: Count your Crunches in one minute

Do as many crunches as you can in one minute.  With these crunches you are just lifting your shoulders off the mat and sliding your hands up your thighs.  This gives you a marker to reach for with each crunch.  Try to touch the top of your knee cap with each crunch.

Proper form: Your knees are bent and your belly button is pulled down to your spine. 

Exercise #3: Count your Squats in one minute

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Do as many squats as you can in one minute.  The key with this test is to make sure your thighs come down parallel to the floor so that you are doing a full squat not just a mini squat.

Proper form: When doing a squat you want your back straight.  Look forward, not down at your feet.  You want your butt to sit back to make sure your knees are not going over your toes and put your weight into your heels.

Exercise #4: Count your Step Ups in one minute

This test is more for your cardio endurance.  As fast as you can step up and down on the bottom stair of your house or on an elevated step at the gym and count your number of steps.  Your rhythm is up-right/up-left/down-right/down-left. Just make sure it is the same stair/step each time so that the height off the floor doesn’t change – that will make a difference.  You should lead with your right leg for first 30 seconds and then your left leg for the last 30 seconds.  This will give you a better test result instead of just leading with your strongest leg.

Exercise #5: Hold a Wall Sit

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Sit against a wall in a squat position for as long as you can last.

Proper Form:  Your form is absolutely critical for this exercise.  You can very easily cheat on this one.  Your knees and your hips need to be at 90 degrees.  Your back needs to be against the wall and your hands should not be resting on your legs.  It is helpful if you can have someone check your form because it is hard to tell if you are at 90 degrees or not.  You are only cheating yourself – so don’t!!

Exercise #6: Hold a Plank

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Holding a plank on your elbows for as long as you can.

Proper Form:  This is another exercise that is easy to be sloppy on.  Your shoulders need to be directly over your elbows and your back very straight.  Pull you belly button up to the ceiling to assist you in keeping your back straight.  It is better if your bum is a little raised than if your bum sags to the floor – this is very hard on your back.

When I design a workout plan with my clients we always do regular fitness testing and measurements.  It’s important to track your progress and it gives you a terrific incentive to push yourself to your personal best.

Your workout plan should consist of fitness testing every 2-3 months.  It will take that long to increase your strength and see improvements.  Make sure you celebrate your successes along the way!

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