8 Tips For How To Set Up Your Fitness Planner
The number one way to see results in your fitness and wellness goals is to have a structured plan in place. Otherwise, you're kind of just throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick. Or whatever the saying is.
But that's why it is SO important to set up a fitness planner!
I get it though, the thought of putting together a weekly fitness planner can be a tad overwhelming. I've been there, so paralyzed about the whole thing that I ended up putting no effort into making a fitness planner that actually works.
There are plenty of things to try, but to help you out I put together this post! I compiled 8 of the best tips for creating a fitness planner in 2023 with what I've learned so far on my planning journey.
Let's reach those goals this year!
1. Make A Plan With Your Planner
This might seem obvious, but a fitness workout planner needs a plan. I'm sure you've heard fitness instructors or run coaches tell you that you won't see results unless you have a plan and stick to it. It's so true!
Moving your body in any way that is enjoyable to you is better than not moving your body at all. But if your goal is to build muscle, get more endurance, increase your flexibility, or whatever else it might be, you need a strategy to get there. So don't just go out and buy any fitness planner you can find.
How do I want to structure my workouts? (aka which workouts you'll do on which days)
What metrics do I want to keep track of in my planner? (miles run? pull-up PRs? Figure out what metrics mean the most to you)
Is daily, weekly, or monthly tracking most important to me? Which pages do I need?
And if you don't plan on getting a fitness instructor or personal coach to make a plan for you, please please spend a little bit of time doing research. Think about what your fitness goals are and learn about the techniques used to reach.
Not only is this safer, but it will help you have a plan that brings results!
A fitness planner won't work unless you do. Create a plan before you build out your fitness planner and it'll be much more effective.
2. Find The Best Fitness Planner For YOU
As you try to create a fitness plan and search for a fitness planner, you're going to run into a ton of people and brands trying to tell you the best way to plan. (Yeah, I know I'm guilty of doing that to you too.)
But the reality is that the best fitness planner for YOU is not going to be the same as the best fitness planner for SOMEONE ELSE. All of our minds function differently, we all have unique motivators and organizational skills, etc.
Basically, a fitness planner template that helped your friend stay consistent might work for you too, but it also might not.
I tried SO many fitness planners as a professional runner. I would see one in the store that looked cute and snatch it immediately. I would watch what other elite runners did and try to mimic it. They all failed eventually (and usually rapidly.)
It wasn't until I admitted out loud that I have different planning needs than everyone else - and that that was okay - that I finally stuck to a plan that worked. Make you don't need a fitness meal planner inside your workout planner (that's how I am) or maybe you do
For me, I enjoy putting the whole thing together myself. Pre-made and dated planners just do not work for me. I discovered the world of fitness planner printables and "build your own" planners and I never looked back. You can download some of my favorite fitness planner pages here.
3. Take Time To Understand Why You Need To Use A Fitness Planner
Nobody likes doing things that are pointless. Obviously. Even if you deep down know that something isn't pointless, that's still entirely different from knowing the true purpose behind something.
This is yet another huge lesson I learned through track and field. Let me explain what I mean. When a coach throws tough workouts at athletes without giving any explanation as to why they're doing it...it's a lot harder for that athlete to feel motivated to give it their all.
On the other hand, learning exactly why some workout or ridiculous-looking running drill is going to make you better, gives it purpose. In turn, that gives you motivation to do it well.
The same thing goes for using fitness planners. As much as I'd love to be your inspiration, "because MadelineKopp.com told me to do it" isn't going to be enough of a motivator for sticking to your fitness planner.
I have a post giving you 12 reasons to track your fitness, so you can start there to learn why it's a smart thing to do. Overall, know your why and watch where that takes you.
4. Don't Forget To Set Some Goals
One of the best pieces of fitness advice I've ever heard is to set goals. And because I thought setting goals was scary, I wrote off that advice for a long time. Big mistake!
I learned that setting goals isn't about being the best in the world or achieving high performance. (Although it can be). It's really about motivation and inspiration to keep going on your journey. It's about giving tangible end-results to what otherwise would be a pipe-dream.
For beginner runners for example, that might mean signing up for a 5k that's 6 months to a year away. Even if you're not trying to win the race or beat everyone in your community (if you are, that's fine too), you're still giving yourself an end goal to work backwards from.
If you know that you have that race on your schedule, you're naturally going to want to be prepared for it. You're going to have something to shoot for - whether if that's finishing the 5k without walking or besting a time you ran previously.
Set some specific goals and WRITE THEM DOWN in your fitness planner. This will make it way more likely that you'll see progress. I recommend having a "goals page" dedicated specifically to writing out your goals. If you have a calendar in your planner, you can then add certain goals to the date you're shooting for too.
5. Use A Habit Tracker
Big picture goals are well and good, but if you don't break them down into smaller, tangible steps, they're going to feel out of reach and impossible.
I like to work backwards from goals. I ask myself if X is my main goal, what are other smaller things that need to happen for me to achieve that main goal? And of those smaller things, what are the day to day tangible steps that I should be taking? I'm going to give two quick examples below, and if you want to know more about habit trackers and why they're phenomenal, I talk about that in my post on how to build a healthy habit.
A. Goal: Run a 5:35 mile
Smaller goal 1: Get my long run up to 6 miles
Smaller goal 2: Run mile-paced workout (this would be a more specific workout in a real plan but leaving it simple for this example)
Smaller goal 3: Squat 150 pounds for 3 reps (again, this is just an example.
Habits to reach those goals:
Protein shake after each hard workout
7-8 hours of sleep each night
roll out session 4 x a week
B. Goal: Get a B+ on my exam
Smaller goal 1: Get a B or higher on the midterm
Smaller goal 2: Score 80% or higher on practice tests
Habits to reach those goals:
Go to professor office hours 1 x a week
Do practice questions bi-weekly
Review flashcards 1 x a week
Do you see where I'm going with this? Having a habit tracker is most definitely a good way to get used to do anything that you're having trouble sticking to. But it's also a great way to help you achieve bigger goals.
Break down your goals into smaller goals and habits as you make your planner. It might seem like a lot of work, but I promise it helps!
7. Put A Spot For Emotional Notes In Your Fitness Planner
Don't be afraid of your feelings!
I spent a lot of time trying to curb my emotions because everyone around me made it feel like I had to be positive ALL THE TIME. In sports, I find there to be a lot of conversation about only having a positive attitude, putting your head down, and grinding.
While most people have good intentions when they say things like that, as a young impressionable athlete all I heard was "bundle up your true feelings and act like everything is jim-dandy all the time."
And that affected me for a long time. For fear of sounding negative, I would hide my feelings or just complain about insignificant things as an outlet. That's partially when I discovered how important journaling about your emotions are.
It's not good for you to bury your feelings. On any fitness journey, there are going to be tough days. Really tough days. And you have to be able to account for those.
All of this is to say that you should make a space for emotions in your fitness planner. It can be brief! No need to write an essay about how you're feeling - unless you're feeling that that day.
How did that workout make you feel? Did you wake up extra tired today? Where were you sore?
This is crucial information for your fitness because it will help you adjust your training load. If you're having a really bad, miserable day, swap a hard workout for your lighter day. If a certain type of workout makes you're legs really sore, you'll know not to put a hard long sprint day immediately after it.
Some journals keep it as simple as writing a smiley face or a frowny face next to each day. Just make sure to check in with your feelings as much as you'd like to and use that to build out a sustainable fitness planner.
8. Make Your Fitness Planner Aesthetically Pleasing
Some people will roll their eyes at this one. But trust me, if you need to look at something every day, you're probably going to want it to be something that's nice to look at. There's no reason you can't spend time making your fitness planner look aesthetically pleasing AND get down to business at the same time!
If plain spreadsheets are your thing then go for it. If sparkly, colorful designs are your thing, then also go for it! The point is to have something that inspires you, and doesn't feel like another monotonous task.
In an earlier tip I talked about how discovering the right planner for you can make a huge difference in sticking to a fitness planner. I was talking about the actual set up of the fitness planner template, but I'm also talking about the way it looks.
What are some ways to make the best fitness planner?
use planner cards with inspirational quotes or write them directly on the pages
put motivational dashboards throughout the pages
use fitness planner stickers
Little touches like this turns your fitness planner into something that you're proud of and enjoy using. I promise this will make a world of a difference!
A digital fitness planner might work better for you too and there are so many options out there for making those types of planners gorgeous.
Time To Get Planning!
There are plenty of things you can do to set yourself up for success with a fitness planner, and I hope these 7 tips gave you inspiration to get started. At the end of the day, they're super simple concepts to implement.
Get a planner that you like to look at, set some goals, and always keep track of your why. You got this!
Believe it or not - my most productive fitness planner right now is a note on my iPhone app. It's working perfectly right now for the goals I have. Really simple and easy to use.
But when I change my routine, which I will as I move onto other phases, I'm going to need something more robust. Keep that in mind the next time you feel overwhelmed by setting up a fitness planner. It can be so many unique things for you at different stages of your life and that's alright!