11 Steps to Pick an Exercise Regimen for You

Guest Post by Tamara from FitKnitChick

Overwhelmed by too many exercise options? Choose a program and stick with it to get the results you want.

Body for Life. LiveFit Trainer. Female Body Breakthrough. New Rules of Lifting. TurboFire. Insanity. P90X. Just a few of the many great exercise regimens designed to help you become stronger, leaner and more fit.

Having so many choices can make it difficult for even the most educated exerciser to navigate a course towards their fitness goals.

Need are a few tips and guidelines for choosing a program that will help you reach your health and fitness goals?

1. Have a clear idea of where you want to be at the end of the program.

Do you want to lose weight? strengthen your core? improve your upper body strength? Once you know where you want to end up, it’s easier to choose the right program.

2. Read reviews of the program.

Do a Google search of the program you’re interested in. Find out what others, both fitness professionals and users of the program, have to say about it. Some authors create forums for users to talk about their experiences; get as much information as you can before you purchase the book or DVD set.

3. Determine how much time you have for your workouts.

Different programs require different levels of commitment. If you only have 45 minutes to train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, don’t choose a program that needs 60 minutes of your time six days a week. Set yourself up for success by being realistic about your schedule.

4. Follow the program exactly as written.

A well-designed program will have several phases. Don’t skip to phase 3 before completing phases 1 and 2, regardless of your level of fitness and exercise experience. Foundation building is instrumental to achieving fantastic results.

5. Write everything down.

Keeping an exercise log is a great way to (a) keep track of which day of the program you’re on, (b) remind yourself to regularly progress each exercise and (3) see how far you’ve come (this is particularly important when, mid-way through a program, you might feel like throwing in the towel because you’ve yet to see any tangible results)

6. Don’t sub out exercises

Each exercise will have been chosen for a specific reason. If you substitute your own exercise for one of the author’s, you may miss a key component of the program. If you have an injury that prevents you from performing a particular exercise, consult with a trainer (or email the author of the program) to find an appropriate replacement.

7. Don’t add extra exercises.

I know, it’s always tempting to add some bicep curls and triceps extensions (gotta love vanity exercises!), but adding isolation moves to a program that’s based on compound movements will just tire the smaller muscles out, leaving them less capable of completing your next workout. Trust that the author of the program knows their stuff and remind yourself, you did your research (step 2) before you got started and were satisfied that this was the program for you.

8. Don’t add extra cardio.

More is not always better. If your program prescribes cardiovascular training on alternate days, don’t feel compelled to do it everyday. Again, increasing the frequency of exercise will often result in workouts that are less intense than required to get the desired results.

9. Stick it out until the bitter end.

If the program is 16 weeks long, don’t jump ship at week 6 and complain about how it didn’t give the results it promised. Avoid the ‘next shiny thing’ syndrome. Variety and cross-training are great ways to relieve exercise boredom, however, mixing and matching programs that have been designed with a particular outcome in mind can lead to muscular imbalance, over-training and even injury. Besides, the most popular programs already have variety built in; you do different things on different days and from week to week.

10. Stay on track with nutrition.

The best exercise program in the world won’t get you the body of your dreams if you don’t fuel yourself properly. Muscles are built in the gym and revealed in the kitchen. Repeat this to yourself over and over and over again.

11. Tempted by another program?

Finish the one you’re currently doing, take a rest week to evaluate your progress and start again with something new!

Read more from FitKnitChick.

Have you followed one of the exercise programs listed above? What did you like about it? Did you get the results you hoped for?

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    • I wrote this for myself, just as much as for you guys! I find it hard to stick to one thing too; want to see results and worry about what might be missing from the program I’m on.

      Patience is so important in fitness (as in life…)
      Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Zarah, you are not alone. I too, am always tempted to add more of this or that to my program. Right now I’m trying to figure out which program to commit to for the next 8 to 10 weeks. Kids are back at school next Tuesday and I’m ready to hunker down and get it done!

    Thanks for stopping by!


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