The Ideal Weekly Workout Schedule

The Perfect Workout Week

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

In a perfect world, we would have zero time constraints and limitations on our exercise options. We would carve out a slice of time with no interruptions, and it would include an actual warm up and cool down (a real luxury). But of course we are all doing our best to fit in what we can, which one day might be a quick run or walk around the neighborhood, a partial class, a few pushups, squats and planks in the house or a five minute yoga flow. Even though something is always better than nothing, consider the following information and strategy the next time you exercise or have the opportunity to plan your week of workouts — rather than simply trying to burn quick calories.

In order to create change in the body, our bodies need constant VARIETY — we have to MIX IT UP on a regular basis.

We all have a unique physiology that causes us to gravitate towards certain exercises, such as exercises or workouts we grew up doing, feel relatively comfortable performing, or that keep us in our “safe place.”  There’s certainly nothing wrong with participating in activities that are  enjoyable and comfortable, however in order to create change in the body (and even mind and spirit), our bodies need constant varietywe need to mix it up on a regular basis. This “mixing it up” shocks the body and causes muscle confusion, which produces rapid change in the body. Most importantly, when participating in a variety of exercises we are building a fully functional and balanced body.  

An ideal week’s worth of varied workouts  should include the following:

  1. Muscular strength through strength training
    Develops strong bones (reducing risk of osteoporosis), helps control weight, boosts stamina, manages chronic conditions, sharpens focus and reduces stress
  2. Core Strength, Stability, Balance & Flexibility (through Yoga, Pilates and Swimming)
    Improves body awareness, decreases risk of injury, maintains a healthy spine, improves posture, manages chronic conditions, eases performance of daily tasks and bending in all directions, sharpens focus and reduces stress
  3. Cardiovascular and Aerobic stamina endurance (through running, dancing, stair climbing, jumping and vigorous swimming, walking, bike riding)
    Reduces risk of heart disease, improves blood cholesterol, improves heart function, reduces risk of osteoporosis, improves muscles, helps control weight, boosts stamina, sharpens focus, reduces stress

While performing a variety of exercises will help you accomplish a balanced workout week and body, it’s also important to understand how to safely and effectively build muscle mass through strength training   **Women: don’t think ‘body builder.’  Unless you are lifting excessively heavy weights on a regular basis and have an unusually high testosterone level, you will not bulk. You will be a calorie-burning machine and have sculpted muscles.**   Strength training is a more efficient way to burn calories and maintaining an accelerated metabolism than cardio only. In fact, a good dose of strength training will keep the metabolism elevated and calories burning for up to one hour post workout! And, when lifting heavier weights or resting no more than 30 seconds in between each set, the calories burned post workout increases even more.

Don't be scared you will 'bulk' with strength training -- You will be a calorie-burning machine & have sculpted muscles.

Don’t be scared you will ‘bulk’ with strength training — You will be a calorie-burning machine & have sculpted muscles.

However and with that said, unless you have total control over the muscles you are training (the ones you are lifting heavier weights with), you could be doing more harm than good. Here’s why: In order to build muscles you must strength train, i.e, repetitively lift heavy objects. The act of repetitively lifting challenging weights, which tears muscle fiber, is a necessary first step. The second and necessary step is giving the muscle/muscles time to repair. It is the process of tearing down and repairing (rest) that actually builds the muscle. Therefore, if you lifted weights and strength trained on Tuesday, you would want to wait until Thursday to strength train again, as this would provide your muscles time to repair and build. If you lift heavier weights day after day, your work can be counter-productive, as your muscles are not getting adequate rest and repair, and therefore will not build.

Accomplishing the perfect workout week and achieving a balanced and fully functional body  comes with intention and strategy, and our goal at iGnite is to provide a week of variety, making the strategy simple, achievable and fun.  If you do not have access to iGnite, hopefully these sample workout weeks will allow you create your own balanced week (and thus, a balanced body) with the classes and variety you do have access to:

Sample Week One

  • Monday: Cross Training
  • Tuesday: Swimming, Cardio Circuit or Zumba
  • Wednesday: Cardio Strength/Cross Training (recommended if swam on Tuesday) or Power Pilates (Recommended if participated in Cardio Strength or Cross Training)
  • Thursday: Hip Hop Yoga or Swimming
  • Friday: Cardio Strength & Stretch
  • Saturday: Option 1- Cardio Core, Option 2- A 30 min. brisk walk with stretch
  • Sunday: Rest

Sample Week Two

  • Monday: Vinyasa Core Flow
  • Tuesday: Dance Fit or Total Body Strength & Toning
  • Wednesday: Power Pilates 
  • Thursday: Cross Training, Cardio Core or Swimming
  • Friday– Option 1: Core & Stretch or Vinyasa Yoga (preferred if participated in all but swimming) Option 2: Cardio Strength & Stretch/Cardio Combo (preferred if swam)
  • Saturday:  Option 1: Cardio Core ; Option 2: 30 min Brisk walk and stretch
  • Sunday: Rest

Sample Week Three

  • Monday: Cardio Circuit
  • Tuesday: Total Body Strength & Toning, Dance Fit or Swimming
  • Wednesday– Power Pilates (recommended if did not swim on Tuesday) or Cardio Strength/Cross Training (recommended if swam on Tuesday)
  • Thursday: Total Body Strength & Toning/Cross Training/Cardio Core (recommended if Pilates on Wed.) or Hip Hop Yoga/Swimming (recommended if Cross Train or Cardio Strength on Wed.)
  • Friday: Vinyasa Yoga/Core & Stretch (recommended if TBS&T, Cross Train or Cardio Combo on Fri) or Cardio Strength Stretch/Cardio Combo (recommended if did Hip Hop Yoga or Swimming on Thurs)
  • Saturday: Cardio Core (recommended if took Vinyasa Yoga or Core Stretch on Friday) or a 30 min. brisk walk with stretch (recommended if did Cardio Strength Stretch or Cardio Combo on Friday)
  • Sunday: Rest

While it’s always important to challenge your body, it’s most necessary to listen to your body. Sometimes the best thing for energy is to work out, and sometimes the best thing for energy is rest. This is why knowing and listening to your body is key!

Sources:
“Strength Training: Get Longer, Leaner, Healthier.” Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/strength-training/art-20046670
Hatfield, Heather. “Kick it up with Cardio Exercise.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/kick-up-with-cardio-exercise
http://www.builtlean.com/2010/08/03/ideal-body-fat-percentage-chart/

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