How To Plan A Week in Workouts

What does a week in fitness look like for you?

Let’s take 3 minutes to lay out a few guidelines for how to best balance strength work, cardiovascular training, mobility or recovery work?

First thing’s first: There’s no single perfect workout. The human body is complex enough that we can all benefit from exercising at a variety of intensities.

If you’re only lifting weights, doing endurance training, yoga, HIIT, any sport, or boutique fitness activity – you’re probably not going to get the best health or hotness benefits.

You might be having fun, and that’s certainly important – most of us do want to see changes in the performance or appearance of our bodies.

If you can only spare a few hours per week, your best bet will be to start with weight lifting.  Download an app like StrongLifts 5×5, or better yet contact someone who can coach you, like me!) and focus on getting stronger over time. If you only have 1-2 hours per week to dedicate to fitness, traditional strength training is probably going to give you the biggest bang for your buck.

If you’re able to dedicate 3-4 total hours to fitness per week, let’s start adding in interval training.  You can do this at a place like MFF in our classes, by taking a fitness class, or through swimming, running, or cycling. Interval training requires a bit of structure, and if you struggle with figuring that out on your own, it could be fun to play in a casual sports league.

Upwards of that, I’m a fan of the low-intensity rhythmic activities for most people.  This could be casually swimming, cycling, or running, and they may or may not feel very challenging, based on your health and fitness levels.

That’s how I’d recommend breaking down a week of physical activity based on time priorities for general health or performance – this changes when you have other personal goals.

For example, since getting married I’ve been lifting 2-3 times per week, and riding my bike 2-3 per week. The strength training sessions are very similar and repetitive, but the bike rides are not.  Sometimes it’s an hour of intense intervals at the pump track, other times it’s a casual 2-3 hour road ride, and on the weekends I’ll head into the woods for a massive day on my mountain bike.

Ideally, these days would be even spread out through the week.  If you’re lifting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then you’d be doing cardio at various intensity levels in between.

Place a rest day before the workout that you prioritize most, so you can start fresh.  For example, I try to rest the day before a big mountain bike ride, but I’m not too worried about being fresh for my road rides.

This will help you find appropriate training intensities and give your body time to rest and recover between workouts. When in doubt, remember these priorities:

  1. Strength Training
  2. Interval training
  3. Steady State Cardio

I love the consistency of daily movement practice, but that means you have to balance out intensity from day to day. Over the course of the week, you should be both the Tortoise and the Hare.

If you can alternate between strength and conditioning during the week, you’ll be set up for success!

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