When you’re training with a specific goal in mind, you need to properly structure and schedule your workout sessions if you want to set yourself up for fitness success. [Tweet this tip!] Here are the best ways to reach three common aims.
Goal: Lose weight
Workout plan: When it comes to losing weight—and keeping it off—it’s recommended that at least 30 to 60 minutes three to five days a week be dedicated to vigorous or moderate intensity aerobic exercise—or a combination of the two—to yield the best benefits. Progressing to approximately 250 to 300 minutes of activity per week has been shown to help enhance long-term weight-loss maintenance.
Though cardio may seem to get all the attention, it’s important to note that resistance training is also a key aspect for weight loss. Several studies have shown that significant increases in lean body mass achieved by training the major muscles can help boost resting metabolic rate, thereby burning more calories.
Consider exploring options like circuit training, CrossFit, and Tabata-inspired workouts to help you get the best of both worlds, as in addition to building strength, studies have shown that these approaches to exercise meet or exceed industry guidelines for improving cardio fitness and offer significant calorie burn to enhance health and facilitate melting off fat.
RELATED: The 20-Minute Weight-Loss Workout
Goal: Build strength
Workout plan: To spice up your resistance training routine and build muscular strength, endurance, and power, try taking a different approach to how you pump iron by using undulating periodization, which involves constantly switching up your reps and sets. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found daily undulating periodization to be more effective in eliciting strength gains than changing a program every four weeks using traditional nonlinear periodization.
As an example of daily undulating periodization, one workout you’d perform more repetitions using lighter weights (to focus on muscular endurance), another workout you’d do a moderate number of repetitions with medium weights performing more explosive movements (focusing on muscular power), and the other day you’d do fewer repetitions using heavy weights (focusing on muscular endurance). To maximize your results, be sure to allow at least 48 hours of recovery between each of your full-body workouts.
Goal: Increase speed
Workout plan: If you’re looking to step up your running speed for an upcoming road race or mud run, consider incorporating specific speed drills into your workout routine on one to three non-consecutive days a week to focus on proper form and technique. Exercise ideas that can easily be incorporated into a pre-run dynamic-warm-up—or serve as a basic drills session all on their own—can include 1 to 2 sets of leg drills such as butt kicks, high knees, bounding, and high marches, each covering a distance of 20 to 30 yards.
The core and arms are also key components of developing effective running speed, as the movement of the arms and the lean of the torso greatly influence the acceleration phase of sprinting. [Tweet this fact!] For upper-body exercises, options include 1 to 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps in each direction per arm of drills like arm drives forward and backward done either standing or half-kneeling. The key is to focus on form when completing these kinds of drills, ensuring that your head is in a neutral position as you maintain a slight forward lean or the torso. When moving the arms, drive from the shoulder as opposed to the elbows, keeping the hands in an open, relaxed position.