#44 A Week at a Time

Sexy Up Your Week of Workouts

It’s Sunday night and you’re contemplating the coming week. Where will exercise fit in this week? Will this finally be the week you stay those 15 extra minutes to do some weights, as you keep hearing you should? Or will you just barely eke out 30 minutes at the gym three times this week, as usual, flipping through a magazine and moving at a just-below-challenging rate on the cross-trainer? Ugh. Your workout needs a lift.

First let’s talk about interval training. It’s hot right now—you should know what it means. Working out in intervals trains your heart for better endurance. You throw a curveball at your heart every so often to challenge its comfort zone. So for example, if you’re walking on the treadmill, every 10 minutes, say, increase your incline from a 1.0 to a 5.0 for 3 minutes without reducing your speed. Or increase your speed from 3.6 to 4.0 for 3 minutes. Or step off the treadmill and do 10 jumping jacks, 10 pushups, and 5 assisted pullups, then climb back on the treadmill.

So now, imagine applying the interval training method to your whole week of working out. You can’t just do 30 on the treadmill 4 days a week and expect to see your body change. You need to plan for cardio (like challenge-your-heart, can’t-talk-I’m-breathing cardio), weights, and recovery (stretching, yoga, Pilates—something that’s still intense, just less pounding on the joints).

What does my week of workouts look like, you ask? Well, it evolves with my interests and children’s schedules, but currently it looks something like this:
Monday – Hard cardio. Maybe 2 sets of 25 minutes on the stair climber, with 5-10 minutes of weights/high-intensity intervals (e.g. burpees, pullups, jumprope) in between.
Tuesday – Spin class
Wednesday – “The Gauntlet.” My friend Gary and I planned a masochistic hour-long workout we call the Gauntlet. We run to a park, do 2 sets of things like jumping up onto a step for time, pullups, and burpees; then we run to a second park, do pushups, some imaginative stuff on park equipment, and more burpees; then run back to the first park for 3 more exercises, including more burpees. Then we run home.
Thursday – Another climb up those stairs at the gym: a tough, if somewhat less enthusiastic workout at the gym. We’re hurrying to music class—I get in what I can!
Friday – Yoga in my home gym. I have a few DVDs to choose from, so I go with my energy level to decide how vigorous it will be.
Saturday – We run our daughter to ballet and back, about 4 miles.
Sunday – Rest! We might take a walk or a bike ride, maybe even go for a jog if we have a sitter and it’s a lovely day, but that’s just bonus.
For abs work, I count the Pilates I do in the 8 classes I teach every week!

It isn’t easy to plan out a week of workouts, much less keep it interesting and challenging. I suggest taking pen to paper and starting with the workouts you already have structured. Write those down, then consider where you have holes that need to be filled. What time of day can you work out on that particular day? Lunch time? Great start. Then check the schedule at your office gym for the classes offered that day at lunch time. It’s sort of a game, a Rubik’s cube, trying to sort out a full week of balanced exercise. Play with it and do the best you can. Make it what you need it to be so that you get full-body benefits, enjoying it some along the way!