Working out is a key part of any fitness goal, whether you're aiming to lose weight, burn fat and increase definition, build your strength or just maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. Five days per week at the gym might sound like a lot, but the bonus of working out more frequently is that you can keep each individual workout time down. Combine cardio and strength training for best results and find a way to enjoy training.
Break up your five days into two days of cardio and three days of weight training, with two complete rest days. The best template for your weight training is a three-day full-body workout, performed on non-consecutive days, according to strength coach Nia Shanks. This means you'll work all of your major muscle groups -- legs, butt, back, chest, shoulders and arms -- in every session. Your cardio sessions can fit in on any two days you're not lifting.
Weight training isn't just for building muscle -- it will keep your bones and joints strong, burn calories and make you fitter too. Generally women should lift weights in the same manner as men, notes trainer Cassandra Forsythe, but with a few small tweaks to account for gender differences. These include shortening your rest periods, working more on your upper body and using a combination of repetition ranges, such as mixing eight- to 15-rep sets with heavier, lower-rep sets. A sample workout would include dumbbell lunges, leg curls on a machine or gym ball, pushups, dumbbell shoulder presses, barbell rows and assisted chinups. Perform each exercise for two sets of 15 reps in session one, four sets of eight to 12 in session two and five sets of five in session three.
Stick to interval training for your cardiovascular work. This combines high- and moderate-intensity work. You do more work in less time, burn more calories and make training more fun with interval training, according to the Fitness Rx website. Use any machine you like, be it the rower, treadmill, stepper or elliptical and warm up for five minutes at a steady pace. Go as fast as you can at a high intensity level for 30 seconds, then reduce the resistance and your speed to a comfortable speed for 90 seconds. Repeat this five times then end with a five-minute cool-down. This can be varied depending on your ability level. The easiest way to do this is simply go harder on the sprints, but you can also perform more intervals, increase your sprint time up to 45 seconds or reduce rest periods to 60 seconds.
Hints and Advice
Take things easy on your rest days -- your body needs time to recover, so avoid doing anything overly strenuous. When starting a new program always check with your doctor and book a session with a qualified trainer to run through your form, particularly on the strength exercises. You can vary the exercises in your strength sessions, provided you still work your whole body and stick mainly to free-weight or body-weight moves. Keep the same exercises for at least four weeks before changing them and aim to increase your weights a little each week.