How to Create Your Own Workout Plan

Advertiser Disclosure

Unbiased Content. Factual Advice.
In order to provide top tier advice from industry professionals - for free - we partner with sponsors. This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links.
We want you to know this does not impact the quality of our content as writers are not influenced by this process. Links are added after the article is finalized. By doing this, we strive to bring you the most straightforward, factual advice to help you through your 20s. Learn more about our content process here.

Skip to Actionable Steps

Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Ways to Create Your Own Workout Plan

There is no one-size-fits-all workout plan, which makes it hard to figure out what exercise routine is right for you. Whether you are brand new to exercising or a frequent flyer at the local gym, understanding how to create your own workout plan is beneficial in many ways. Answer these simple questions to help you design your perfect workout. 

You can create your own workout plan to save money. This limits the frequency you need a personal trainer, is individualized to your specific goals, and gives you the flexibility, challenge, and creativity of putting it all together.

What is your goal?

Do you want to build muscle? Are you training for a triathlon or half marathon? Trying to touch your toes? While a specific fitness component might speak louder to you than others, it’s important to incorporate cardiorespiratory training, muscular strength, and flexibility into your routine to create physical balance and ensure a safe program. 

What activities do you enjoy?

Finding exercises that you actually like is key to sticking with a new workout plan. If you don’t like to run, find other types of cardio activities like cycling, rowing, or swimming. But keep in mind, if you don’t like an exercise because it’s tough, you may just need to keep working on it to build strength and stamina.

What equipment do you have access to?

Are you a gym member? Do you have equipment in your home or at the apartment complex gym? Maybe you prefer the great outdoors, bodyweight exercises, or fitness videos you can do at home. The type of equipment and workouts you enjoy will determine how to structure the components of your workout.

How much time do you have?

Do you struggle to squueze in a 20-minute workout or are you able to fill an hour of free time after work? Time determines the intensity and frequency of your workouts.

Create your own workout plan with the FITT Formula

Consider how you answered these questions, then put it into a plan using the FITT formula – frequency, intensity, time, and type.


First, start with Frequency. Frequency is how often an exercise you should perform an xercise. Cardio is recommended 3-5 days per week with at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise. Strength training should be included 2-3 days per week per muscle group, allowing at least one rest day before working the same muscles again. Flexibility training is important in improving the range of motion of muscles and joints, so it’s best to work on flexibility daily but research recommends at least 3 days per week.


Secondly, decide your desired intensity level. INTENSITY is the level of difficulty of an exercise. Cardio intensity works toward a target heart rate zone (calculate your HR zone here). Strength training is determined by the amount of resistance (most commonly the weight) and the number of sets and repetitions. Increasing intensity is done by increasing the resistance, changing the speed of repetitions, and increasing the range of motion. The intensity of flexibility exercises is only to point of tension. Pain during stretching could be a sign of too much intensity.


TIME is highly variable for all fitness components. For the average fitness junkie just looking to stay healthy, cardio exercise is recommended in 20 to 60-minute durations. The time of strength training depends on the number of muscle groups being worked and the number of repetitions and sets. Refer back to your specific strength goals and days of the week you’re able to train. Stretching for flexibility, at a minimum, should include all the muscles worked in the latest workout. Hold stretches for at least 15 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.


Lastly, decide on the type of exercise you enjoy. TYPE of exercise goes back to what you enjoy and your goals but also depends on your current physical fitness level. Cardio ranges from low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling to high-impact exercises like running and plyometrics (think box jumps). When choosing strength exercises, be sure to include all major muscle groups. Try free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, suspension training straps, or calisthenics. Types of flexibility include options like dynamic stretches before a workout, static stretching after workouts, and yoga on recovery days.

Ready to get your sweat on? Keep reading more about building the best workout plan below and then follow our actionable steps for staying on track.

Don’t Miss Out!

Enter to win a free
virtual coaching session

Don’t Miss Out!

Win a free 1:1 coaching session

Actionable Steps


Read the longer version

To learn more, read these articles reviewed by our professionals: How to Create Your Own Muscle-Building Workout Plan by the trainers at Shape, How to Create an Effective Fitness Plan by ACE Fitness, and How to Build A Workout Routine by the trainers at Men’s Health.


Write down your workout plan

Go old school with paper and pencil, use an Excel spreadsheet, or try a fitness app. Choose which days of the week and what time of day you plan to workout (a.k.a the frequency). Be specific with the type, time, and intensity of each workout.


Monitor your progress

Use your notebook, spreadsheet, or app to track your progress. Running duration or mileage, cycling RPM, amount of weight, number of reps and sets, and duration of holding stretches are all important notes to document. This helps you determine when to increase the intensity to continue challenging yourself.


Incorporate rest days

Rest and recovery are just as important as the workout, so be sure to add these into your plan.


Get a trainer

If you’re struggling with putting it all together, try a session or two with a personal trainer to get started.

Trainer Tip: Most public gyms offer a free fitness assessment and training session when you sign-up. Take advantage of it! Or try a credible workout plan like this 3-month routine by ACE Fitness.

Coaches For All Your Self-Improvement Needs!

About the Author

shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching

favouriteLoadingAdd to Favorites

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

How to Store Seasonal Food Long-Term

Trying to save money by buying in bulk and storing food? Use these tips on how to store food long-term to save money and eat well.

Hey there! Let’s get started.

Sign up with email
Have an account? Log in
By signing up, I agree to this platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Hey there! Join for free.

Access 1,000+ resources to change your life today. Sign up with email
Have an account? Log in
Are you a coach? Click here
By signing up, I agree to this platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Sign in with email

All sign in options

Welcome Back

Sign in with email
Don’t have an account? Sign up
By signing in, I agree to this platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Win a FREE Coaching Session

Achieve success like member Michael M - our coaches helped him to increase his salary by $60,000! Enter to win a free session with a self-improvement coach on our Sweepstakes page today.