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Planning the Perfect Fitness Week

Planning the perfect fitness week doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Here are a few ideas to help you plan the perfect fitness week for a balanced, comprehensive routine:

  • Aerobic Training: The minimum recommendation for aerobic exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018). While additional exercise time and intensity can have added benefits, it is important to at least meet the minimum recommendations. Here are a few ways you can incorporate aerobic training into your week:
    • Aerobic-focused group fitness classes: Most fitness facilities offer a variety of aerobic-class options featuring a range of intensities and formats. From Spinning to Zumba, these classes are great opportunities for you to try something new, meet people who share an interest in being healthy, and add variety to your exercise schedule.
    • Follow a specialized aerobic training program: If attending a class is not convenient or possible, try an at-home training program to stay motivated and on track. From barre, yoga and dance routines to calorie-burning interval training, and muscle-building strength training, the possibilities are endless. Moderate-intensity programs should achieve a heart rate range of 40-60% of heart-rate reserve (HRR) and vigorous-intensity programs should maintain a HRR between 60-90% (see shaded box below) [American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 2018].
    • Go outdoors: From a walk around the neighborhood to sprints up a hill, taking an aerobic workout outside of the gym can offer a different environment and scenery, provide fresh air and create a more challenging training terrain.

  • Strength Training: Strength training for each major muscle group should be done twice per week. Be creative with your strength programs. Challenge yourself:
    • A specialized strength program: Follow a specific strength program.
    • Strength-focused fitness programs: For those who prefer a combination of cardio and strength, try a program that focuses on muscular strength and endurance.

  • Flexibility Training: Flexibility training should be performed for a minimum of 2-3 days per week with an optimal frequency of 5-7 days per week (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018). While most programs incorporate some static stretching at the end of their workouts, extra time should be dedicated to this component of fitness throughout the week. Spend additional time after your training sessions to stretch and participate in activities that incorporate stretching.
  • Balance Training: While often neglected, balance training is an important component of a comprehensive fitness program, especially for older adults. Balance training can be incorporated during your training sessions (e.g., standing on one foot while performing an arm exercise), trained separately, or added into daily activities such as standing on one foot while waiting in the grocery line or performing a tandem walk while walking to the mailbox.
  • Rest and Recovery: Rest and recovery are important components of your weekly fitness plans, as a rest day can reduce injuries, prevent overtraining and allow muscles to recover. Rest days need not be completely sedentary days, however; incorporate light activities such as a leisurely walk or stretching into their rest days.

The key to achieving a balanced, comprehensive weekly fitness routine is to mix and match your activities, adding variety to your training sessions, and switching it up every couple of months. Ultimately, the perfect fitness week is one that incorporates variety, fun, and challenges to your fitness routine and keeps you motived along the way.