Not everyone is looking for bulging biceps, to run a marathon or to lose five stone (though if you are, this advice could help you too). Many of us just want a weekly routine that will keep us feeling fit, strong and toned. So I’m going to share a great workout plan that will enable you to do this. First for some general advice.
Vary your routine
Sticking with the same workout day in, day out is not just boring, it can also lead to elevated cortisol and adrenaline levels, which is a sign that you are under too much stress, and a weakened immune system.
Try to vary your workout throughout the week by focusing on cardio one day, resistance another and flexibility the next.
How often should you exercise?
Ideally you should look to push yourself with vigorous cardio, such as rowing, running or a Bodyattack™ class three to five days a week.
On all other days you should do a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes of moderate cardio exercise; such as a brisk walk, gentle cycle or Bodybalance™ class.
On two to three days a week you should perform resistance exercises. Try to aim for eight to ten large muscle group movements such as squats, leg press, chest press and seated row performed for 8-12 repetitions.
Three to four times a week, or after you exercise, you should look to stretch your major muscles. Hold stretches at the point of mild discomfort for 20-30 seconds, for three repetitions.
It’s good to note that some exercise classes you can do in the gym incorporate a mixture of these different exercise groups. For instance Bodybalance™ has a combination of moderate cardio and flexibility.
Now we know the basic rules, it’s time to form the plan. A good weekly plan might look like this:
Monday – Outside (vigorous)
- 10 minutes warm up jog
- 20 minutes running outside (or on a treadmill)
- 10 minutes jog to cool down
Tuesday – In the gym (moderate)
Wednesday – In the gym (vigorous)
- 1 hour Bodypump™ class
- Or a 45 – 60 minute full body resistance training circuit
Thursday – In the gym (vigorous)
Friday – Outside (moderate)
- 10 minutes warm up jog
- 30 minutes gentle cycle
Saturday – In the gym (vigorous)
- 30 minute Mobilise workout
- 20 minutes resistance
Sunday – Outside (moderate)
- 30 minutes brisk walk
Equally important as the exercise itself is giving yourself a break from vigorous exercise every week to allow your body recover. Long, unbroken periods of high intensity exercise can temporarily supress your immune system leaving you open to illness.
Furthermore, the microscopic tears to muscle tissue that are caused by lifting weights require time (and good nutrition) to repair. Our muscle tissue is damaged when we lift weights and your body then repairs this damage which ultimately results in muscle growth; exactly what you want to achieve when looking to attain a lean, toned appearance.
As tempting as it may be if you’re training for a marathon or a triathlon, for example, to train hard every day, you could be doing more harm than good, so always build in lower intensity recovery sessions in between your higher intensity sessions.
Sleep is a big part of recovery too. Try to aim for seven to eight hours a night and turn off your phones, TV, laptops and tablets an hour before you go to bed for a more restful night’s sleep as the blue light emitted by such devices has been shown to reduce sleep quality.
When to avoid exercise
Occasionally you might need a break from exercise altogether. You should avoid high intensity exercise when you are ill. If you have a cold or the flu moderate intensity exercise can be continued if symptoms are mild, but you should stop exercising and rest if you have a fever, muscle aches, fatigue or other acute symptoms. Taking a few days to recover will have you back in the gym in no time, whereas trying to train through illness is likely only to make you feel worse.
Last updated Wednesday 16 September 2020