If you’ve made the decision to start – or return to – exercising in 2020, you want to make sure you have a plan. Below is a 3-week workout program that fits the bill, along with the reasons why.

Build up over time
Too much, too fast, too hard, too soon – that’s typically the approach of most people embarking on a fitness plan. They head to the gym five days a week for an hour, loading up the weights like they used to do or copying someone else’s strenuous workout.

What usually happens, though, is they quit within three weeks because they feel too sore, too tired and too defeated.

Start by looking at the bigger picture: What is it that you see for your life as far as fitness by the end of the first three weeks? Can you see yourself exercising three times a week for 50 minutes each workout? Is that something reasonable that can regularly fit into your schedule?

Track your activity
We all like to keep score and that’s also true when it comes to working out.

During this program, grab a calendar or make a chart and mark down how much you’ve moved or exercised each day. It will include the minutes of your workouts, but you can also use a tracking device that counts the steps you’ve taken during the day.

Tracking your physical activity helps you understand your body’s ability. You’ll soon see progress and this will motivate you to do more.

Basis of the workout
The workout focuses on three areas: aerobic/cardio training, strength training using just body weight and a recovery period.

The total minutes of these common exercises – chosen because they’re easily doable – add up to 150 per week, which is the minimum recommended by the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

Aerobic training

While the aerobic/cardio minutes are the same for each of the three weeks, the intensity increases based on the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) while doing the exercise on a scale of one to 10.

  • 1-2: Easy. Almost no effort is required to do the exercise.
  • 3-4: Light effort. Your breathing rate is slightly increased, but you can talk freely while doing the exercise.
  • 5-6: Moderate effort. Heart rate and breathing are elevated and you’re breaking a sweat, but you can talk in sentences.
  • 7-8: Hard. You require a brisk effort while doing the exercise. You can talk a few words, but would rather not. Your breathing is heavier, you can feel your heart pounding and you’re sweating.
  • 9-10: Intense. You’re moving fast, are breathless and can’t talk. It’s hard to perform the exercise at that pace for more than 30 seconds.

Strength training


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Don’t sell yourself short by dismissing the importance of recovery, which keys on stretching and includes deep-breathing exercises.

Stretching increases flexibility, aids recovery after exercise and may improve your performance. It increases blood flow to and from the working muscles, delivering nutrients for repair and recovery. It also helps flush out the chemicals from exercise that can cause post-workout muscle soreness.

Why this 3-week plan works
This workout keys on gradual progression so you can enjoy it and succeed at it. If you don’t feel successful, you’re not going to turn it into a habit.

If you need a support network, find a buddy to work out with or join you on a cross-country ski or walk. Hiring a Personal Trainer also helps hold you accountable.

After completing this program, you should feel stronger, more energetic and be sleeping better. You might not see a physical difference, but the workout’s purpose is to be a springboard to get you into the next phases of a fitness makeover.

Turn your new fitness habit into plans for 3-month blocks, with new goals to drop weight, cut body fat or train to reach a higher level of fitness.

The workout