Cardio, Weights, and Rest: A Perfect Workout Week

Our lives are different yet similar; we all have the same amount of hours available to us in any given week, We divide them how we need to between responsibilities, chores, and family. Chances are that no matter how hard you try if you have a family and/or a job you aren’t going to be able to spend the majority of your hours working out in the gym. That’s why it’s so imperative to maximize the efficiency of your workouts, so that you can accomplish the perfect workout week every single week. 

If you are traveling a lot for work, don't be discouraged.  Stay motivated with you cardio and if you can do something in the hotel room before you start your day, or at the end, before bed, do some push-ups and crunches.  Push-ups will challenge the shoulders and the chest, triceps and the back.  Crunches will challenge your core and hopefully remind you that you are not going to eat off track during your work trip.

Cardio

I personally do not long distance run; I don't have the body for it, and when the heart rate is pushed too high, the body will burn muscle more than fat. However, I understand the benefits of a fat-burning level heart rate and swear by it for overall health.  Regardless of your personal feelings when it comes to cardiovascular exercises, you need them. They should by no means be your sole form of workouts, but they are necessary to keep your heart and lungs healthy so that your body can recover quickly and heal properly after workouts. Cardio also happens to help keep your endurance in check so that during any type of exercise you can have stamina. 

To get the most out of your training you should focus at least two days of your perfect workout week to this workout concentration. Your cardio sessions should last between an hour and an hour and a half depending on the intensity at which you are working out. For instance if you are completing HIIT workouts during one of your cardio sessions and taking an outdoor jog for the other, you may want to schedule a shorter HIIT workout (since the intensity is higher) and a longer jog (since your intensity will likely be lower).  No matter how you choose to workout for your cardio portion, you should still aim to reach a target heart rate up to 120 and  no greater than 150 beats per minute. Ideally you would want to keep your heart rate within this range for at least 45 to 60 minutes of your cardio workout to have the emphasis placed on fat burning.

Weight Training 

Wether you hate the burn of weight training, or love the feelings of accomplishment that it provides you, strength training is essential for staying healthy. One of the most common questions I get from females is their expression to avoid strength training because they are afraid of “bulking up”, but I’m here to tell you that it’s time to squash that fear. When compared to men it’s actually exceptionally difficult for a woman to bulk up during strength training. 

Whether you are trying to bulk, tone or simply slim down strength training is one of the quickest and easiest ways to do it. When you tone and build lean muscle mass through strength training you are also increasing the rate of your BMR, meaning that you will burn more calories doing absolutely nothing the more lean muscle mass you have. In turn that also increases the efficiency of your everyday workouts and overall fitness.

For your Perfect Workout Week try to make the goal 3 x 40 minute workout sessions per week.  Since this is one of the best ways to not only build lean muscle mass but also burn off unwanted fat you will want to rotate between upper and lower body workouts throughout the week so that you do not over exhaust one area of the body to the point that your muscles has difficulty healing. As you become stronger and the weights become easier to maneuver you should slowly begin to increase your weights to help progress your muscle strength.

Rest Days

Do not discount the importance of rest days in your perfect workout week. Rest days provide your body with the break it needs to rebuild your muscles stronger and restore your energy levels. Without rest days you would quickly become depleted and useless in they gym. But do not make the mistake of thinking that just because it’s a day of rest you can spend your time sitting on the couch watching tv. Your rest days should involve physical activity, just not physical exertion. For example, a brisk walk around your neighborhood or going an ab workout at home, even stretching through something like Yoga, would both be good rest day activities for your body. 

Whatever low intensity activity you participate in during your rest days you should make sure to spend at least 30 minutes on it at least two times per week. What you choose shouldn't require a great deal of effort.  I personally choose to train my abs on this day.  Cardio on some off days, but I usually do my cardio after my workouts.  I do have an  off day where I don't do anything except the walk around the block a few times with my dog; its all about balance. Be sure to choose activities that you’re interested in for your rest days so that you don’t forfeit the workout in favor of lounging around letting your muscles stiffen up.