According to the Department of Health and Human Services, everyone should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. If you engage in more vigorous exercise, then you only need 75 minutes of exercise every week. In addition to this, they recommend that everyone engage in strength training at least twice a week. But how does this look in real life? What would a typical workout schedule be if you want to improve your fitness? Here is how to plan your exercise routine for a week.
Five Days a Week
The easiest way to meet these guidelines is to plan to exercise at least five days a week. This may seem like a lot, so if you are just starting out, then shoot for 3 or 4 days per week. However, working out five days a week is a great way to meet these guidelines because you can break up your cardio and strength training on different days.
Cardio can be walking, swimming, jogging, or cycling. Depending on how quickly you move, you can go for 30 – 50 minutes at a time, three days a week. Then, the other two days can be reserved for strength training. This does not mean that you need to lift heavy weights! You can do bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, planks, and burpees. You can also use resistance bands or light weights to work for more muscle groups. For the best results, you need to rest between strength training days, so you can strength train on Tuesday and Thursdays. Here is what an example schedule can look like:
Monday – 30 – 50 minutes walking
Tuesday – 30 minutes strength training with body weight or resistance bands
Wednesday – 30 – 50 minutes cycling
Thursday – 30 minutes strength training with body weight or resistance bands
Friday – 30 – 50 minutes swimming
If you have been exercising regularly and can take on more, you can change your schedule to be more intense. Instead of strength training with light weights or bands on two days, you can do High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) three days per week and cardio two days per week. Your schedule could look like this:
Monday – 15 – 30 minutes HIIT
Tuesday – 30 minutes running with sprints
Wednesday – 15 – 30 minutes HIIT
Thursday – 30 minutes cycling with intervals
Friday – 15 – 30 minutes HIIT
This schedule will help you get in at least 75 minutes of intense exercise per week and you will get plenty of strength training while doing HIIT. This is great for those who want to get stronger and leaner without spending hours in the weight room.
What About the Weekends?
If you are having trouble hitting your goals during the week, you can use weekends as a catch-up time to get in missed cardio or strength training. You can also use the weekends to do fun, active activities that are less intense like easy hikes, walks, or bike rides with friends and family or playing sports. This is also a great time to practice yoga, foam roll, and stretch. You don’t have to be a couch potato all weekend!
The key to exercising regularly is to find activities you enjoy. If you hate running, then walk, cycle, or use cardio machines at the gym. If you prefer to combine cardio with strength training, then do HIIT sessions and ditch traditional strength training. Find what works best for you and make it happen!