You know variety is good for your body, but between all the different types of fitness classes, styles, and moves out there, it might be hard to figure out exactly how to plan a perfect week of workouts.
Most experts recommend a combination of strength training, cardio, and rest days to balance out your workout routine. However, you’ve only got a limited amount of hours in the week, so you also want to be as efficient as possible with your time. Here’s what our trainers suggest that you keep in mind to avoid injury, keep your body guessing, and accomplish your goals.
What does an ideal week of workouts look like?
First, everyone is different—which means that how you interpret the standard national recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity each week will absolutely fluctuate based on your body, workout history, lifestyle, and goals.
“A balanced week should include both strength and cardio, but what someone working on cardio and muscular endurance will lay out for the week [will] look a lot different than someone who is training for strength or power,” says Aaptiv Trainer Candice Cunningham. “All could include cardio, but one would be more high-intensity interval training (HIIT) focused, while another would be more low intensity or target fat burning.”
She advises people to start with their specific goals: are you trying to gain muscle? Train for a half-marathon? Manage stress? Reduce body fat? Knowing why you exercise can help you create a customized plan. It depends on your level of activity, as well. If you’re starting from scratch, one to two days a week might be a great place to begin. If you’re already pretty active, you may want to aim for four to five days a week.
“A balanced week for me includes two HIIT days, one yoga or barre class, two strength days, a lower-intensity cardio day (running or elliptical or stair master), and one active rest day, like a long walk,” explains Aaptiv Trainer Jennifer Giamo. “I like this approach because it forces your body to constantly adapt to different stimuli. Each workout compliments another. Yoga allows me to be flexible and improve range of motion for strength training, while HIIT workouts are time efficient and boost metabolism for weight control, which is helpful for running. Whatever your preference, a balanced week should include cardiovascular training, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility components.”
Planning out your week of workouts can be daunting. Let Aaptiv do all the hard work for you with our expert trainers and fun workouts.
Should you work out every single day?
According to Cunningham, rest is just as vital as any workout, and, in a given week, you should strive for one or two days where you either take a full break or do low-intensity exercise. Giamo almost always includes an active rest day in her routine, because she believes that giving your body a chance to recover is the key to results.
“It’s important to allow your body to rest, almost just as much as you allow it to be active,” adds Aaptiv Master Trainer Meghan Takacs. “When you work out, your muscle fibers break down. By allowing your body to rest, it can restore the broken down fibers so that you can gain lean muscle.”
Mixing up your workouts allows you to prevent overexercising and injury. Furthermore, from a practical standpoint, giving yourself permission to skip a workout might be necessary. It all depends on your lifestyle. For example, if you’re a working parent a few short workouts at home every week may be more realistic than two-a-days at your local gym. Whatever you decide, Giamo says to pick workouts you enjoy because it’ll likely lead to more consistency.
How long should each workout last?
Giamo says this depends, but aiming for a minimum of 20 minutes is usually a good rule of thumb. If you’re working out for weight loss, Cunningham says to break it up into 45-60 minute sessions, but if you’re just doing cardio workouts, then you can just do 30 minutes, or so.
“It varies. Thirty minutes some days, but if you do long runs it could be 90 minutes. It’s important to mix up your workouts and workout duration so [that] your body’s muscle memory is constantly confused and, therefore, can never acclimate,” agrees Takacs.
What’s the best way to start creating some balance in your workout routine?
“Write out a schedule,” says Takacs. “Physically, write the workout down in the notes of your phone, or choose an Aaptiv workout and log it under your saved workouts so that it holds you accountable. Sometimes it also helps to get in the swing of things by doing something that is both strength and running, like a HIIT running workout—it makes the idea of running not so tedious and daunting.”
“On Sundays, take your calendar and lay out your workouts for the week,” says Cunningham. “Keep them in front of you and think of them as meetings with yourself. If you need help with what to focus on, get a trainer or someone who understands fitness and your goals, to help you.”
“Don’t beat yourself up if your week doesn’t always go exactly as planned,” adds Giamo. “Missing a day ,or even a few days, isn’t going to ruin your progress. Get back on track by scheduling your workouts in your calendar, signing up for a class, or working out with a friend to hold yourself accountable. Most importantly, listen to your body. If you are scheduled for a run on a specific day, but you’re not feeling 100 percent, replace it with something lower intensity.”
If you’re looking for a weekly schedule to try on for size, Takacs offers three different routines at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels with specific Aaptiv classes.
- Sunday: Outdoor steady pace run (30-40 min)
Example: “Run to Recover”
- Monday: Treadmill variation (intervals) (20-30 min) and 20 minutes total body calisthenics (bodyweight movements)
Example: “Three Ways” and “Lean Muscle”
- Tuesday: OFF
- Wednesday: HIIT (30+ min) (running and strength)
Example: “Metabolic Remix”
- Thursday: Run (30+ min) (incline or intervals)
Example: “Active Recovery Rounds”
- Friday: OFF
- Saturday: OFF or 20 min intervals on treadmill and strength (weights or bodyweight)
Example: “Run, Recover, Run” and Aaptiv strength workout
Looking for beginner workouts? See our trainer led workouts for beginners here.
- Sunday: 40+ min run outdoors (long run)
Example: “Success in 10s”
- Monday: Middle Distance Speed Work (25-30 min) and total body strength
Example: “800 Meter Repeats” and “Dynamic EMOMS”
- Tuesday: OFF
- Wednesday: Fartlek Run (speed work) (30+ min) and total body strength
Example: “Be Resilient,” “Build a Booty,” and “Pair it With a Run”
- Thursday: OFF
- Friday: Longer treadmill workout (40-50 min) (intervals + endurance work) and abs
Example: “Shoutout to My Ex” and “EMOM-7”
- Saturday: OFF or treadmill Intervals or incline work (30+ min) and agility
Example: “All Speeds, All You,” “Booty Buster,” and “Agility Drills and Plyos”
Need something harder than a beginner workout? View our intermediate programs in the Aaptiv app.
- Sunday: Long Run (50+ min)
Example: “Open Roads, Long Run” or anything in the Aaptiv Marathon Plan
- Monday: Speed work (30 min) and total body strength (30+ min)
Example: “How to Win” and “Running Weight Workout”
- Tuesday: OFF
- Wednesday: HIIT treadmill work (40 min) and abs
Example: “Interval Bases” or “The Mechanics Effect” and Aaptiv strength workout
- Thursday: Treadmill, Strength (30 min), and total body strength (weights)
Example: “Lean, Fast, and Strong” or “Run, Strength Work, Run” and “Runner Centric Movement”
- Friday: OFF
- Saturday: Incline work (intervals) (30+ min) and total body strength
Example: “Genuine Grit” and “Advanced Runner Strength Workout”
Looking to get your blood pumping with advanced workouts? Check out Aaptiv’s advanced training classes here.