Whether you're working out at a gym or hitting up the neighborhood park, it's essential that you don't begin your training session without a clear, detailed game plan. I know that it takes extra effort, and of course there will be days where you just showing up to exercise is an accomplishment, but going into your will ensure that your workouts are effective. To prevent wasted time and subpar training sessions, lay out specifically what you will do during your workouts.

Where and when to write your workout game plan

I personally prefer to be organized with my workouts and keep everything in one small, spiral-bound notebook. It's part of a routine for me and helps me be consistent with planning out my workouts ahead of time. But, it doesn't matter if you use a fancy notebook or scribble everything down on a post-it note.

Ideally, you design at least a week of workouts at one time. That way, you can be sure that you're getting as much cardiovascular work and strength training in as you need to in order to reach your goals. However, sometimes that's just not an option and a day-of approach is the only thing that will work. As long as you clearly have your plan laid out before you go, whatever works for you is fine.

Components of a workout game plan

What your actual workout will consist of is completely dependent on your own personal fitness goals. You're going to want to tailor your sessions based on those goals. Every comprehensive workout plan will consist of the following elements, which will then be filled in by you:

Warm-up activity


Cardio activity


Strength training activity

List of exercises:
Number of sets and repetitions:

Flexibility work


Tailor your game plan to fit your schedule. If you only have 30 minutes for exercise one day, maybe you do a brief warm-up, followed by 20 minutes of cardiovascular work and then a 10 minute strength training workout that solely targets your leg muscles. As we all know, our schedules can change at any time, so if something comes up that decreases the amount of time you have to workout after you've already made your workout plan, make adjustments to the plan as necessary.

You may also want to include any specific goals you have for yourself in a workout. For example, if you completed three pull-ups last week and want to go for four this week, note that in your work out plan. If you want to run a little bit faster around the track, mark that down.

Benefits of a workout game plan

Showing up to work out and doing whatever you're feeling in the moment is better than nothing, but you're going to more efficiently move towards achieving your personal fitness goals if every single workout you complete is designed with those goals in mind. For example, if your fitness goals include building muscular tone and lowering body fat, then you're going to want to incorporate both cardiovascular and strength training components into your training session. Your workouts will be more efficient, because you'll know exactly what cardiovascular activity you'll be performing and for how long. You'll know exactly what muscles you'll be targeting during your strength training component, as well as what exercises and your expected volume.

As a result, you'll be able to move from one activity to the next, which will keep you from heading over to the water fountain needlessly or getting into a conversation with someone else at the gym because you're trying to figure out what to do next. You're going to work harder when you have a game plan, as you'll eliminate any wasted time wandering or contemplating and replace that time with actual exercise.