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Step Six
Step Seven
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Step Ten

Step Six: Create a rotation

Contributor: Karen Jo in Seattle

Now that you've picked some videos and written down some goals, you'll want to create a plan for reaching them. That's where a rotation can help.

If the following information seems overwhelming, come back to it once you've succeeded in making workouts a habit. :)

What is a rotation? The term is frequently used by VFers in the Reader Forum, and newcomers are often confused about its meaning. As a matter of fact, it can mean different things to different people, but you could loosely define a rotation as a way of structuring your choice of workouts to achieve a particular goal or balance or variety in your workout regimen.

Here are some examples of how individuals might use the concept of a rotation:

  • a plan to focus on a specific instructor or series (e.g Cathe Friedrich or The Firm or Tae Bo)
  • strength training rotations from light weights up to heavier and then back down a bit and up further
  • rotations based on a particular goal (e.g. increase flexibility, gain upper body muscle) or a particular philosophy of physiology.
  • a short term (perhaps just a week) or long term workout plan

Most of these rotations will be based on the commonly accepted recommendations on covering strength, cardio, and flexibility in your exercise regimen, but the rotation you choose determines the relative balance of each. There are those who don't fully agree, but most definitions of a well-rounded exercise program include:

  • 3 days per week of cardio, increasing to 4 or 5 if one of your goals is to lose weight or fat (beginners may need to gradually increase to 4-5x week)
  • 2 days per week of total body strength work or twice per week per body area if split. 36 to 48 hours of muscle recovery should be allowed before working the same areas again (don't do strength work on the same muscles on consecutive days, skip at least one day).
  • ab work varies from daily to twice per week, depending on who you agree with and how hard you can actually manage to work your abs
  • 1 or 2 days per week of flexibility work
  • at least one day completely off per week. Some experts also advocate a full week off every three to six months.
  • aerobics/cardio work should be varied (cross training) and include at least two different workouts, preferably by two different instructors and in two different styles, e.g. floor, step, interval, running, etc. Short periods of doing one tape or instructor are not a problem. Doing one thing for long periods has been found to decrease results due to muscle adaptation and to increase injury rates due to overuse of a few muscles.

You may be thinking, "but that adds up to more than seven days a week if you work on only one thing per day? How can I fit everything in?" This is where tape selection is key. Combination tapes, using parts of tapes, and planning your workout rotation comes in. Kathy Smith's Weight Loss Workout, for example, has both upper and lower body strength work incorporated into sections of the cardio so it counts both as a cardio workout and a total body strength workout. Energy Sprint includes lower body strength work in the cardio routine and then ab and upper body work in a separate section so if you do only the first section you can count cardio and a half body strength workout. Streamline Fitness has a total body strength workout and an ab and flexibility workout that are each short enough to do separately after doing a cardio tape or, if done together, count for both strength and flexibility. On the other hand, since the Secrets of a Great Body tapes are divided into upper and lower you would have to do each one twice per week to get your two sessions of total body strength work per week from them.

Many people here use rotation to mean just planning out their week's workouts so they get all of this in each week. This may be as simple as writing down which days you will do what work (Monday cardio & upper body, Tuesday lower body and flexibility, Wednesday Off...) then deciding on the tape(s) to use on the day you do them. Others plan their work in detail for weeks at a time. Some find they are more likely to skip the workout if they don't want to do the tape they planned for today, others find they need to have not only the tape planned but it, their clothes, and their equipment out and waiting for them when they roll out of bed.

You may need to experiment to find what type of planning works for you. Some people really benefit from very structured rotations, while they are limiting to others.

You may not yet have enough tapes to create a good rotation at this point, and that's fine. Come back to this page later, and remember that, especially at first, doing anything regularly is better than getting overwhelmed and doing nothing at all. Making workouts a habit should be the first goal. The rest will follow.

For examples of rotations or to ask questions about creating rotations, see our Combinations, Rotations, & Modifications forum.

Step Seven: Just do it!