One of the things I think people struggle with most when it comes to beginning a workout program is how to go about setting it up. I know for me, I had to really take some time and think about how I wanted to lay out what I was going to do and how often I was going to do it.
What I hope to do here is make that process a little easier for you by providing a weekly workout schedule template to follow! This particular template is going by a 6-day a week format (3 days cardio / 3 days strength). Now I know that may sound like a lot. However, all of these workouts, whether we’re talking about cardio or strength, can be completed in a little over 30 minutes, and possibly less!
In the early parts of this weekly plan, you are not going to find yourself doing extreme workouts promising to shed pounds of fat in a short amount of time. That’s not how I roll (no pun intended)!
My goal is to help you set yourself up for a lifetime of fitness, so this workout program is designed for those who are in it for the long haul. These early weeks will be dedicated to setting up your foundation by focusing on easing you into regular exercise with a walk/jog routine, while challenging your stability and mobility as well.
This is going to take dedication and hard work, but your body and health are worth it!
Before we get into the meat and potatoes, let’s talk about why a schedule is important.
Schedule? How And Why Should I Make A Schedule?
If I am to be blunt here, without a schedule, it will be nearly impossible to see results. When it comes to working out, you don’t want to go about it randomly, as it will just get confusing and ultimately frustrating. When things get frustrating, motivation to keep going dips significantly.
We want to set ourselves up for success!
There are several benefits to making an easy to follow schedule:
- Less Wasted Time: You know exactly what you are going to do before you work out. This cuts out a lot of wasted minutes deciding how you want to exercise that day.
- To put it another way, when you go grocery shopping, how much longer does it take you to get done when you don’t have a ready list? For me it can nearly double the amount of time I spend in the store!
- Stay On Track: Making and keeping a weekly schedule allows you to easily track where you have been and where you need to go. This is especially crucial when trying to set how you are going to progress in your workouts. Without progress, you can forget about reaching your goals. (If you need help with those, click here to read about setting SMART goals)
- If I don’t write down the exercises I do and the amount of weight I lift for a given workout routine, there is no way I’m going to remember what I did the next week. Making a schedule and tracking my progress allows me to know when I need to add weight or stay the same.
- Helps Create A Habit: They say it takes about 30 days to develop a new habit. If you want to make a habit of working out, you want to make sure you are specific and focused. A workout schedule is a perfect way to fascilitate a fitness habit in your life!
*As always, any of the following information should be used with caution, assuming that any exercise comes with inherent risk of injury. Participation in this exercise routine is voluntary and therefore the liability for possible injury suffered as a result lies with the participant. Before beginning ANY exercise routine, please consult a physician to see if you are physically able to participate in an exercise program.
For three days of your six-day workout week, you will be doing cardio. In this particular program, we are going to start off with brisk walking as it is a great way to ease into exercise, give you some success, get you into a doable routine, and prepare your body for the more challenging exercise to come.
The goal here is to work up to being able to walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. If you are not quite there yet, I would say spend some time doing that before beginning this program. You could say being able to briskly walk for 30 minutes is a prerequisite to this routine (Anyone remember trying to sign up for a college course, only to find out you didn’t have the correct prerequisites? Wow, that was annoying!)
If you need some help with how to get started with walking for exercise, click here to see my article on that very subject!
Once you have reached the ability to go the full 30 minutes, your 3-day breakdown will look something like this:
Day 1: Perform a 1-mile assessment walk at your local track. This is also explained in my article on how to walk for exercise. If you have a few minutes to read it, that would be beneficial. If you don’t have the time right now, I will give the short version in a few steps:
- Go to a local running track
- Walk one warm-up lap at your own pace around the innermost lane
- After the warm-up lap, start a timer and complete four more laps around the innermost lane, walking as quickly as you possibly can.
- As soon as you finish, record (whether in your phone or in a notebook) the date, the time it took you to complete the four laps, as well as your heart rate.
Day 2: Walk at a brisk pace for a full 30 minutes.
Day 3: Walk at a brisk pace for a full 30 minutes.
Now that we have our 3 cardio days taken care of, it’s time to look a preparing our bodies for getting stronger!
Chances are if you are just starting to work out, you might be a little stiff when it comes to your flexibility. However, flexibility is extremely important when it comes to exercise! According to the Mayo Clinic, some benefits of stretching may include:
- The improvement in range of motion for your joints
- Improvement of athletic performance
- Decreased injury risk
- Improvement in overall muscle function
The reason I don’t start immediately with strengthening exercises on non-cardio days is because I want to build on a foundation that decreases the risk of me getting injured. Now there are some guidelines that should be followed when going through a stretching routine. Again, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Don’t stretch cold muscles: You want your muscles to be warmed up before you stretch them to prevent injury. Warm muscles are much more receptive to being stretched than cold ones. This doesn’t mean you have to do a full workout, but doing some jump roping, jumping jacks, or even light walking for about 5 minutes can be sufficient to warm your muscles.
- When you stretch, you shouldn’t bounce: A static stretch should be just that: static. Still. The movement should be nice and smooth. Bouncing can actually lead to an injury.
- Stretch each muscle for at least 20-30 seconds: You don’t need a huge amount of time per muscle to stretch, but not doing it long enough can decrease the effectiveness.
- It should be pain free: You want to feel the stretch, but if there is pain, you have gone too far and need to back off until the pain disappears.
- If playing a sport, focus on the areas that are used for that sport: Runners would put extra emphasis on their legs. If you are lifting with your upper body, focus on the parts you are using.
- Make stretching part of your routine: Stretching the parts of your body that you used during each workout is great for increasing your mobility and range of motion, which can lead to better overall muscle health!
For this week, here is a great video from Bowflex that gives you a full body stretch in five minutes:
Now that we have broken down our six-day workout program, here is how to put it together in a useful schedule. Feel free to modify if you need to!
Monday: 1 Lap Walking Warm-up / 1-Mile Walking Assessment
Tuesday: 5-Minute Light Warm-up / Full Body Stretch
Wednesday: 5-Minute Walking Warm-up / 30-Minute Brisk Walk
Thursday: 5-Minute Light Warm-up / Full Body Stretch
Friday: 5-Minute Walking Warm-up / 30-Minute Brisk Walk
Saturday: 5-Minute Light Warm-up / Full Body Stretch
I hope this weekly workout schedule template will give you a great start to your fitness journey! Be on the lookout next Saturday for Week 2, which will start to include a little jogging into the cardio as well as some stability and mobility work on the strength training days.
Please feel free to leave a comment below! I want to hear what you think of this particular program. Are you excited to start? Do you think it is something that is doable for you? As always, if you have any questions, I am all ears and usually get back to you within 24 hours! If you do happen to use this template, come back at the end of the week and let me know how it went! I’d love to hear your feedback!
January may have come and gone, but it’s not too late to get a great start to your fitness year!