Are you ready to start working out on a regular basis but you’re not sure what to do?
Maybe you’ve been following a workout program but, for whatever reason, you are inconsistent or not getting the results you’d like. Or maybe the workouts you’ve tried have been geared to one exercise modality that you just can’t stand.
Well, look no further – today I’ll outline the most convenient and balanced fitness program that anyone, at any experience level, can stick to!
Day 1 –30 to 60 minutes strength training & mobility
Day 2 – 30 to 60 minutes cardio & active recovery
Day 3 – 30 to 60 minutes strength training & mobility
Day 4 – 30 to 60 minutes cardio & active recovery
Day 5 – 30 to 60 minutes strength training & mobility
Day 6 – 15 to 30 minutes interval training & active recovery
Day 7 – complete rest day
First, just to clarify, the time of each workout will depend on the individual’s schedule and their level of experience. If you are planning to squat hundreds of pounds, you’re going to need at least 5 minutes between sets. However, if you learning squat mechanics with just your bodyweight, you’ll probably only need 30 seconds in between sets.
Plus, if you overcommit and develop the belief that a workout doesn’t count unless its 60 minutes, you may end up skipping workouts on busy days, rather than getting in 30 minutes of quality work to continue making progress.
The “Strength Training & Mobility” workouts start with a 5 minute warmup to wake up stabilizer muscles, improve movement patterns, and practice “prehab” exercises. Prehab exercises target muscles that tend to be tight, passive, or weak, leading to the most common injuries and imbalances (usually shoulder, knee, and lower back).
The rest of the workout will consist of 10 exercises, strengthening every major muscle group of the body. While we strengthen the muscles with these exercises, we also want to improve mobility. To do this, lift the weight fairly quickly, maybe in 1 to 2 seconds, but then make the lowering or returning phase last at least 4 seconds.
As we lift a weight, our muscles shorten, but as we lower the weight, the muscles lengthen, providing an active stretch to the muscles and tendons.
Below is the outline for the “Strength Training & Mobility” days.
BirdDog/Quadruped – 5 repetitions each side, holding outstretched position for 5 seconds each time
Deadbugs – 10 repetitions in all, holding outstretched position for 2 seconds while exhaling
Glute Bridge – 10 repetitions, holding top position for 1 second
Clamshells – green band around knees, 10 repetitions each side, 1 second hold per rep
External Rotations – 10 repetitions each side
Full Body Workout:
Squat – 3 sets of 8 to 20 repetitions.
Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 to 20 repetitions
Pushups –3 sets of 8 to 20 repetitions
Rowing / Back Pulling Motion – 3 sets of 8 to 20 repetitions
Single Leg Lunge or Squat – 2 sets of 8 to 20 reps
Single Leg Deadlift – 2 sets of 8 to 20 reps
Rear Shoulder Fly – 2 sets of 8 to 20 reps
Bicep Curl – 2 sets of 8 to 20 reps
Tricep Kickback – 2 sets of 8 to 20 reps
Side Plank – 2 sets of 10 to 30 second hold each side
And there you have it – 10 exercises, performed a few times each, that will ensure balanced development, injury prevention, and improved function for years to come!
One thing I omitted from this program is specific tailoring based upon experience level, restrictions and injuries, etc. For example, a novice might perform the squats by sitting back and down onto a chair and standing back up. An intermediate trainee may perform the movement holding a weight in front of their chest and no chair. And an advanced individual may use a full barbell on their back loaded with hundreds of pounds.
Then, of course, there are many technique details that can’t be efficiently communicated in a blog. Whether keeping the knees out and feet flat on the floor during a squat, or tucking the elbows in towards the body during pushups, form is crucial. But unfortunately, the best way to convey this is through one-on-one work.
For the “Cardio & Active Recovery” days, pick whatever form of conditioning is most entertaining for you. This can be running, hiking, riding a stationary bike in front of a television, etc. The point here is that you want the activity to be enjoyable enough that you can stick with it, but isn’t so difficult that you have trouble performing the next day’s workout. You can also practice some of the prehab movements from the Strength day, do some foam rolling and stretching, or attend a Yoga or Pilates class.
Just make sure you do something active for 30 to 60 minutes that leaves you feeling mobile and healthy!
Finally, try to perform higher level conditioning, such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), at least one day a week. You can do 30 seconds of kettlebell swings with 1 minute rests, hill sprints, farmer walks with heavy weights in each hand, or intervals on a rowing machine – really whatever you want!
On the 7th day, marked as “Complete Rest”, you don’t need a highly structured workout, but don’t fear activity. Only the highest level athletes need a day where they do nothing at all. Go for a walk, do a little stretching, go to the beach and go for a swim.
The structure of this program includes 3 scheduled strength and mobility sessions, 3 scheduled cardiorespiratory / cardiovascular sessions, and 1 day where you don’t have to commit to any one thing beforehand.
This program will provide enough stimulus to improve heart and lung health, while improving strength, balance, mobility, and bone density, without resulting in over-training. Just make sure you eat healthy for the rest of the hours of the day outside of the gym!
And if you need any help learning the exercises and perfecting safe and effective technique, don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for reading!