Daily Workout Schedules

Tamsen Butler
Contributor Jessica Drew
workout schedule and hand weight

Daily workout schedules are a great way to make sure you stick to your exercise plans. Exercise gives you energy throughout the day and by moving daily, you can maximize this effect to your benefit.

Weight Loss

Working out to lose weight requires a different strategy than working out to bulk up or maintain general health. There are two main types of workouts that you'll need to engage in: strength training and cardio. Exercise alone may not be enough to get the scale to move, so make some dietary changes by maintaining a caloric deficit - one that is about 500 calories less per day than what you typically eat now.

Strength Training

Some people get confused by the recommendation to add strength training to an exercise regimen when trying to lose weight, but strength training will specifically help you lose fat and will shrink inches off your body. Muscle also burns more calories than fat, and burns calories for longer after a workout.

  • Aim for a full-body strength workout 2-3 times a week, allowing for recovery days in between so your muscles can repair themselves.
  • Do three sets of 10-12 reps of each of the exercises in your workout. Choose weights that are challenging but manageable; very light weights won't give you the same fat-burning benefits as heavier weights.
  • Your muscles will quickly grow accustomed to the weight, so as it feels less challenging (probably within a few weeks), increase your weight.
  • There is no need for women to fear that they will get "bulky" by lifting weights as this isn't something that happens accidentally in females. Women with bulky muscles have worked specifically toward that goal and train much differently than the workout suggested here.
  • You can do cardio on the days you strength train, as long as the cardio doesn't wear you out to where your form for lifting will be compromised. Also, take care to not overtrain, as this may result in injuries.

Monday and Wednesday Workout

Do this workout on Monday and Wednesday, with three sets of 10-12 reps. Rest briefly in between sets to catch your breath and regroup for the next set. If you feel as though you recover sufficiently from these workouts, you can repeat it on Friday - although if you don't feel as though the Monday and Wednesday workouts fatigue and challenge you, it may be a better idea to lift heavier. Beginners can do this workout without weights or with small weights to start, working their way up gradually.

  • Weighted squat press (or leg press machine followed by an shoulder press machine)
  • Weighted bent over rows (or seated row machine)
  • Weighted lunges (or leg curl machine)
  • Weighted chest presses (or push-ups or chest press machine)
  • Weighted biceps curls (or biceps curl machine)
  • Weighted crunches (or abdominal curl machine)
  • Weighted triceps extensions (or triceps dips, or triceps press machine)
  • Hold a plank (elbows or hands - on knees for beginners)

Friday Strength Training

Friday can be another strength training day like above, or you can do some resistance training that is a little more gentle on your joints. Pilates is a good choice - particularly, Reformer Pilates - as is power yoga (or Ashtanga yoga). Aim for a 45-60 minute session on this day.

Strength training class

Cardio: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Cardio workouts burn calories and help you shed pounds in addition to being very healthy for your heart. You should do cardio a minimum of three times a week for at least 30 minutes, but when trying to lose weight you should increase that number to at least five times a week, increasing sessions to 45-60 minutes. Here are some ideas for cardio:

  • Walking, jogging or running on a treadmill or outdoors
  • Biking
  • Group fitness classes like dance fitness, kickboxing, or any cardio-based class
  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Heavy yard work

Sunday Recovery

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to spend your recovery day doing absolutely nothing. A leisurely walk or gentle yoga are good ideas for your recovery day, but do take at least one day a week where you allow your body to recover and repair itself from the week's workouts.

Muscle Building

There are two things you need to do to build muscle: lift heavy and take in more calories. Your muscles can't grow without proper nutrients. Drop your reps down to 6-8, for three reps. There are fewer reps than with the exercise protocol above because you're going to left heavier. Lift leavy enough to where you have a difficult time completing the final rep of each set.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday Workout

Use the same strength workout as above, but add some "super sets" to increase the strain on your muscles. Your muscles should shake and feel quite fatigued during (and after) this workout.

  • Weighted squat, followed by a sumo squat, followed by a squat pulse
  • Weighted bent over rows, followed by reverse flys, followed by wide bent over rows
  • Weighted lunges, followed by lateral lunges, followed by lunge pulses
  • Weighted chest presses, followed by push-ups, followed by supine flys on a bench
  • Weighted biceps curls, followed by hammer curls, followed by overhand grip bicep curls
  • Weighted crunches, followed by Russian twists, followed by reverse crunches
  • Weighted triceps extensions, followed by triceps dips, followed by triceps kickbacks
  • Hold a plank, followed by a pike plank, followed by alternating leg lifts while in the plank

Cardio When Building Muscle

Some people avoid cardio when trying to build muscle because they're afraid of losing their gains, but the cardiovascular benefit of cardio exercise cannot be overstated. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, do some light cardio for 30 minutes while your muscles recover - this helps improve HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and take some strain off your heart. Walking is a great option, as is a leisurely swim.

Swimming for fitness

Recovery Day

Sunday is your recovery day. It's important to recover sufficiently when building muscle - not recovering may hinder your muscle growth. On this day, make a conscious effort to help your body recover from the rigors of strength training. Take a nap if you can, get a massage, and allow your body to repair itself.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Speak to a nutritional specialist about your nutritional needs before, during, and after your workout. What you consume can have a profound impact on how quickly you build muscle, and your specific needs will vary based on a variety of factors.

Maintenance

If you're completely satisfied with your physique and only want to maintain it, then you should strength train by doing one to three sets of 12 to 16 reps at a weight that is challenging but comfortable to you. You should also continue to do cardio workouts at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes, as it's essential for heart health.

Using Daily Schedules

Working out most days of the week may seem overwhelming, but once you get into a good routine you'll probably start to dread recovery days because you'll miss exercising. Whether you're trying to lose weight or gain muscle, the residual health benefits of increased activity are numerous.

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Daily Workout Schedules