Here’s What The Perfect Week of Workouts Looks Like

Here’s What The Perfect Week of Workouts Looks Like

Whether you’re a gym junkie or total beginner, when it comes to fitness, sometimes it pays to go back to basics. With that in mind, we went to two personal trainers to discover how to plan the perfect week of workouts – from the ideal cardio to strength ratio, to why heart rate matters, here’s what they said.

Think About Your Time

“Making your workouts fit the logistics of your week is crucial. Decide how much time you can realistically dedicate to working out, which will then determine how you allocate your time. For example, if you’re able to fit in three sessions each week, you could split this up with 30-40 minutes on strength and 10 to 20 minutes on cardio per session. If you have a little more time on your hands, you could do three longer strength sessions and two short cardio sessions. If your availability only allows two short workouts per week, you could do an upper body session and a lower body session, then look for other ways to increase your activity, such as changing your commute or going for a walk with friends on the weekend – this all counts.” – Mike Brooks, personal trainer at Six3Nine

Know Where You’re At

“Fitness looks different for everyone. If you’re a beginner, be sure to take it slowly and build up gradually to prevent injury and fatigue. A complete beginner should do no more than three sessions per week to give their body adequate time to recover. Someone who is more advanced and used to working out regularly could train five or six times a week. When it comes to session length, a one-hour workout three or four times a week will suffice for general fitness and strength. When it comes to strength training, it’s a case of quality over quantity. You don’t want your form to suffer as your body starts to fatigue – a strength session should never be longer than an hour.” – Alex Parren, personal trainer for Meglio

Get The Balance Right

“Strength training delivers more benefits than cardio in the long term, such as improved muscle and joint health, and increased bone density. Strength training can also be performed in such a way as to elevate the heart rate and place more demand on the cardiovascular system, such as by pairing multi-joint movements like squats and press-ups. On the other hand, solely focusing on strength training means you won’t match cardio training for the overall amount of energy expended so if your goal is weight loss then cardio will deliver more bang for buck, albeit without the aforementioned benefits. You should never focus solely on one, but if you had to, strength training provides the more versatile approach. Aim for a 2:1 ratio of strength to cardio training, making some adjustments to your calorie intake to balance out the smaller energy expenditure of your strength sessions.” – Mike

Recognise A Short Session Is Better Than Nothing

“If you’re pushed for time, a 20-minute workout can be effective, you’ll just need to do more of them throughout the week to get the same effect as a 50-minute session. In 20 minutes, you could perform three to five rounds of a circuit that works each muscle group, or you could perform a HIIT session. Neither of these will have the same effect as a more thorough session, but it’s definitely better than nothing.” – Mike

Make It A Habit

“When it comes to fitness goals, have a think about the “why” behind these goals – make sure it’s something positive. This will reinforce your motivation for forming a habit and reduce the risk of you falling off the bandwagon when life gets hard. Next, let go of the perfectionism associated with working out. We adopt extreme diets that we cannot stick to, or gruelling workouts we can’t maintain, and as soon as something goes wrong, we give up the whole thing. A smaller commitment you can maintain for six months is better than a huge commitment you can maintain for six weeks. Likewise, putting in 70% effort Monday to Friday is better than being 100% on Mondays only.” – Mike

Maximise Your Strength Sessions

“When it comes to your strength workouts, compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts are better for the everyday exerciser than isolated movements like bicep curls. These compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups and encourage muscles to coordinate, which burns more calories and improves imbalances. Always start your strength workout with compound exercises and then move on to accessory exercises to isolate specific weaknesses or imbalances. For example, start your leg day routine with squats and lunges, then move on to single leg exercises like lunges, pistol squats, and Bulgarian split squats to improve balance and make sure both sides are firing properly independently of one another. We all have one dominant side so it’s important to do isolation exercises and single-side exercises to make sure both sides are working equally.” – Alex

A smaller commitment you can maintain for six months is better than a huge commitment you can maintain for six weeks. Likewise, putting in 70% effort Monday to Friday is better than being 100% on Mondays only.
Mike Brooks

Build A Better Body

“With strength training, there are key areas you should be focusing on for a healthier body. For example, focusing on your upper back and shoulders makes sense – this will help with your posture and strengthening the back will have a noticeable effect on your day-to-day life. The same applies to glute and core training, which can help develop a healthier relationship between your hips and lower back. Look after your feet and ankles by training barefoot when possible, and go barefoot at home where you can – this will allow your feet to move naturally, which in turn will support your ankles, knees and hips.” – Mike

Be Cardio Savvy

“If you’re looking to lose weight and improve your fitness, you would benefit from shorter, higher intensity cardio sessions. Cardio doesn’t have to mean slogging away on a treadmill – there are many ways to do a cardio workout without sticking to machines. Try a functional MetCon or circuit workout, which can help improve your strength, balance and mobility as well as your fitness. If your goal is to improve your endurance, you will benefit from longer, lower intensity cardio sessions.” – Alex

Think About Heart Rate

“Your heart rate can be a useful tool for planning and monitoring your cardio workouts. First, you’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate, which is generally accepted as 220 minus your age. Once you have this figure, you can work out your heart rate training zones. There are five heart rate zones: zone one is very light effort at 50-60% of your max, zone two is still light and conversational at 60-70% of your max, zone three is your aerobic zone at 70-80% of max, zone four is the threshold zone at 80-90% and zone five is maximum effort at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate. For lower intensity endurance sessions, you should stay within zones two and three in order to build a strong aerobic base without putting too much stress on your body and allowing for a quick recovery period. For higher intensity sessions, look to stay within zone four but keep the session shorter and make sure you have more recovery days in between.” – Alex

Invest In Your Kit

“With more of us working out at home, it’s worth investing in a range of weights. Kettlebells are very versatile as they can replicate a number of dumbbell exercises and be used for unique movements too. If you can get hold of two to three different weights that will give you a good range to start with, ideally working with a range of 4-12kg. Also consider buying some resistance bands, which provide a great challenge and allow you to work at different angles.” – Mike

Don’t Forget Pre And Post Prep

“While they may not be the panacea of exercise injury and recovery they were once touted as, warm-ups and cool downs still have a place. The easiest way to warm up is to think about the exercises you’ll be performing and do easier versions of them. Press-ups against a wall instead of the floor, squats without weight, planks on your knees; these allow you to think about your technique while you’re still fresh, as well as preparing the body for what is to follow. For cooling down, pick one or two stretches for muscle groups where you know you carry a lot of tension like the upper traps, or for muscle groups you have worked particularly hard during your session, such as a quad stretch after lower body day.” – Mike

Prioritise Recovery

“Recovery is just as important as the time you spend training and can really make or break your progress. Nutrition, hydration and sleep all play an important part in recovery so it’s important to focus on those just as much as you focus on your training. Make sure to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night; stay hydrated during the day; and eat a balanced diet with enough protein and carbs to fuel your workouts.” – Alex

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*DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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