Happy Thursday! If you’re a regular reader of A Lady Goes West, then you know that every single Monday I post a recap of my workouts from the past week. I do that to share insight into my fitness life and to talk about how I continually strive to improve on my routine.
But you may be wondering, how can you do the same thing, while not necessarily having access to the same gyms and classes? Well, you’re in luck. Today, I’m going to share a few tips on how you can structure a balanced week of workouts, depending on the time you have to commit. If you’re ready to up your fitness game, a little tweak in your routine could be just what the doctor (or trainer) ordered.
The following is a post I originally wrote for Jen’s blog and wanted to share with you here as well. Before you begin reading, remember that this is just a general set of guidelines and what I believe to work best for the average person. It’s not the only way. And you must always listen to your own body and consider your own goals and needs.
How to structure a great week of workouts
So maybe you hit the gym a few times a week or get outside to run most mornings and you feel like you’re not getting any results. Or maybe you’re flat-out bored with your routine. No matter the case, I’m here to tell you that there is a way to create a plan for your workouts that isn’t the same old, same old, every single day.
While every person has different goals (and I encourage you to meet with a personal trainer one day to discuss your individuals needs, limitations, mobility and plans), there are a few standard guidelines when it comes to a good week of workouts. And this applies to you whether you work out solely at home, enjoy taking group fitness classes in the studio setting or hitting up a big corporate gym with a workout buddy.
- FREQUENCY: First of all, you have to choose your frequency. You should always try to work out at least three times, spaced out across the week, so you can get the maximum benefits. Therefore, anywhere from three to six workouts is ideal. I like to do six workouts a week on Monday through Saturday, with a rest day on Sunday.
- REST: Second of all, don’t forget the rest day. Every single week, you should have one day where you give your body and muscles a chance to recover completely. On this day, you can take walks and foam roll, but back off from actual strength and cardio work.
- DURATION: Thirdly, you have to choose the time you can devote to your workouts. You can get a great workout done in just 25 minutes, however, sometimes, your workout may be longer than that. For days that you complete high-intensity interval training (HIIT), less than 30 minutes is fine. But for days when you choose to do a different workout with less intensity, it may stretch out a bit longer, and that’s okay. Your workouts can vary in duration throughout the week. You don’t need to spend more than an hour working out each day and you certainly should never go more than two hours a day (unless of course, you are training for something specific). Because I teach a lot of group fitness classes, (like BODYPUMP and BODYATTACK), which require me to do the whole workout, many of my workouts are one-hour in length. However, if I’m working out alone, the time varies between 25 minutes to one-hour-and-15 minutes.
- FORMAT: Fourth, you’ve got to have variety. Ideally, your week should include equal parts strength/resistance training and cardio training. You’ll also want to include some stretching and flexibility work, as well as core work. While you don’t have to devote individual sessions to these, you can always fit in 10 minutes of core work and flexibility work at the end of each workout. If you usually run every day, start trying to add in some bodyweight work or work with a resistance tube at least three times a week, so you can build muscle and strengthen your body. You may find that it makes you a better runner. (Check out some of these short weights workouts I’ve created for ideas.)
- ORDER: Last but not least, you want to space out the days that you do full-body resistance training sessions. If you plan to lift weights on Monday, then do cardio on Tuesday and go back to the weights on Wednesday. Some people with more specific goals like to do “split days” in which they work the legs one day, the upper-body the next day, etc. However, I find that this type of training works for the more advanced weight-lifter who is trying to get a certain aesthetic gain. For the everyday person wanting to get in shape, full-body strength workouts performed with a day of rest in between are ideal. And weight training can mean a number of things, you could use resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells or even the fancy cable machines at the gym.
Of course, I’m a big believer in group fitness and get most of my workouts done that way. With that, you don’t have the choice on the duration, but you can still make yourself a schedule so that you’re getting in a variety of class formats each week. For instance, I teach BODYATTACK (cardio) on Monday, BODYPUMP (resistance) on Tuesday and BODYATTACK (cardio) on Wednesday, successfully rotating the requirements on my body at the start of the week.
A sample well-balanced workout week
Now, to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about above in action, here’s a look at a sample great week of workouts for someone who exercises five times-a-week. And of course, this could also be modified for working out only three to four times-a-week:
- Monday – 30 minutes of HIIT cardio, 10 minutes of stretching
- Tuesday – 45 minutes of full-body weight training, 10 minutes of stretching
- Wednesday – Rest day
- Thursday – 25 minutes of HIIT cardio, 5 minutes of core, 5 minutes of stretching
- Friday – 30 minutes of full-body weight training, 10 minutes of stretching
- Saturday – 30 minutes of steady-state cardio, 10 minutes of core, 5 minutes of stretching
- Sunday – Rest day
What else should you add to your week?
For extra credit, I also encourage you to try to fit in a yoga class or perform yoga at home every once in a while. One of my goals for 2015 was to take one yoga class a week, and it’s helped quite a bit with my flexibility. Also, it’s great to try new things. Sometimes your cardio can be running intervals on the treadmill, sometimes it can be bike-riding and sometimes it can be taking a group fitness class. The more you challenge your body to do new things, the better off you’ll be.
As I said in the beginning, we all have different goals, so no plan is cookie-cutter perfect for you, unless designed for you by your own personal trainer. Therefore, seek variety, seek movement and remember to get a day of rest.
So those are my two cents on the matter. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy your day, and please come on back for “Friday Favorites” tomorrow.
Enter to win MealEnders!
And in case you missed it, you can still enter to win four pouches of the brand new MealEnders lozenges, which I reviewed yesterday. The contest closes Sunday night.
Questions of the day
What’s your favorite kind of workout? Is there any type of workout that you’ve been dying to try? How many days of the week do you work out?