How to Set Up a Workout Program at a Gym
4 mins read

How to Set Up a Workout Program at a Gym

Getting to the gym might be the easy part, once you get the kids settled and find your gym bag. Knowing what to do when you get to the gym may be a little more of a challenge. If you are starting a new workout routine, need to change your workout or are completely new to the gym, you need a plan of action. Plan ahead with a goal of how many days you have available to exercise. Divide the number of days in half. One half is for cardiovascular exercise and the other half is for strength training. If flexibility needs to be part of your routine, every other week skip one cardio day or strength training day for a yoga or Pilates class.

Step 1

Make an appointment with the gym’s personal trainer. If you are a new member or a member who is returning after an absence, you may be eligible for a complimentary training session. The personal trainer or another trained gym employee should be able to take you around the gym and show you the strength machines you need to use for your upper body, abs and lower body. The other option is to pay for one training session with the trainer, who will help you make a detailed workout schedule.

Step 2

Browse the gym’s schedule of classes before scheduling the rest of your weekly workout plan. The schedule should be available at the front desk or on the gym’s website. Look for classes which meet your workout needs and style. If you would rather do cardio in a group fitness class instead of on a treadmill, highlight the class times that are convenient for you. Or pick a strength training class or a class devoted to working your abdomen. The schedule with the highlighted classes will give you an idea of the days that you need to be at the gym. The rest of your workout routine can be built around these classes.

Step 3

Fill in the rest of the workout routine with cardio and strength training routines that are not covered by the class schedule. Every other time you are at the gym you should be doing cardio. If there is no class that fits your busy schedule for three days, plan to spend at least 30 minutes on a treadmill, and elliptical trainer or a stationary bicycle.

Step 4

Break your days available for strength training into two categories–upper body and lower body. Create a workout routine for the upper body using a piece of graph paper. Make a horizontal column to the far left. Write in the name or number of the machine. Across the top leave room for dates. Within each box include the amount of weight lifted, and the number of repetitions. Aim for three sets of 12 for each exercise. On the opposite side of the paper, or on a new sheet do the same for lower body exercises. This will help you stay accountable to your workout, and give you a sense of direction when you are at the gym.

Step 5

Continue to challenge yourself as your workouts get easier. Whenever you feel that you have reached a plateau, need to push forward, change your workout routine to include new classes and different cardio exercises. When you are no longer tired after three sets on a strength training routine, it is time to increase the resistance or the weight. Make another appointment with the personal trainer if you need more ideas for bringing your workout routine to the next level.


  • Keep in mind that a gym’s class schedule may change frequently to match attendance and seasonal changes.
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