Create Your Own Exercise Routine: It’s as Easy as 1-2-3

Kirsten Palmer by Kirsten Palmer | August 6th, 2013 | 2 Comments
topic: Fitness

create your own exercise routine

It’s not uncommon to hear people bemoan their inability to get to the gym, or more specifically, to get to their favorite group fitness class. Even worse, not making it to class means they probably won’t work out at all. But missing your regular class doesn’t mean you have to skip exercise altogether. You can get a great workout anytime, anywhere with the right workout plan in place. And it’s much simpler than you think to create one yourself!

Here’s my three-step guide to creating your own exercise routine:

1. Pick three exercises, one each for the lower body, upper body and core. Because you’re only doing one, choose something that targets multiple muscles at once; for example, lunges, push-ups and crunches with a twist (see variation below*). These are also good moves if you don’t have any fitness tools or props, as your body weight provides enough resistance. Plus, there are lots of ways to modify them for the sake of variety.

2. Instead of counting repetitions, perform each exercise for 30 seconds.

3. Repeat the three-exercise cycle three times through. In between each cycle, do 30 seconds of high-intensity cardio: sprints, jump rope, jumping jacks, plyometric jumps, etc.

That’s it! That’s all you need to do. Because the exercise routine uses the principles of high-intensity interval training, it’s less than 10 minutes long but highly effective for both cardiovascular health and fat-burning. However, if you complete this workout once and want more, you can repeat it and simply change up the exercises. Try a rotation without tools or props, and one with.

Of course, no matter how simple it is to create a workout, the real work comes not from the physical but the mental activity. Here are some tips to ensure success:

  • No excuses, no exceptions. Decide when and where you will do your workout, and when the moment arrives, don’t give yourself a choice. Follow through.
  • Do your best, even if it’s not perfect. You might not have the right music, the right workout clothes or the perfect workout space. You might forget the moves you picked in advance and change things mid-stream. None of that matters. Doing something matters.
  • Do it again. If you ignore tips one and two and throw in the towel, you’re not a failure … yet. Try again the next day, and the next. There will be pitfalls — expect them, move past them and you will be a success.

*Crunches: Bicycle variation

1. Lie on your back with your head, neck, shoulders and feet hovering above the floor, arms extended to the side from your shoulders.

2. Lift higher and crunch. Bend your right knee and bring it to your chest. At the same time, sweep your left arm in toward the knee bending at your elbow.

3. Release to the starting position (hovering, not resting) and repeat with the other knee and elbow.


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  1. Another way to choose three exercises is 1 lower body exercise (squats, lunges, jumping), 1 upper body pushing exercise (push ups, dips) 1 upper body pulling exercise. Pulling exercises without equipment can be tricky to figure out. Try this:
    Lay on your back and put your arms out to the side in a “t”. Push into the ground with your palms, forearms and elbows until your body comes off the ground. Hold for a moment then lower back down. Repeat for the 30 second interval. You can vary this by putting your arms at a 45 degree angle or all the way at your side.
    When you choose body weight, total body exercises, your core has to be engaged right from the beginning, so no need for a specific “core” exercise.

    Mike Luque | August 7th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  2. Great suggestion, Mike. Thanks.

    Kirsten | August 27th, 2013 | Comment Permalink

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