A four-day exercise routine gives you the opportunity to vary workouts, using different exercises to achieve different goals. By alternating cardio workouts with different levels of resistance or alternating areas of the body you work, you can prevent boredom, improve your results and avoid hitting a plateau. Put some planning into your workouts before you begin each day to maximize the benefits you get from exercise.
Follow a Pattern
Use the same basic pattern for each daily routine you perform. Start with moderately intense muscle movements to warm up, such as jumping jacks, skipping, light jogging and other movements that get your blood flowing while you gradually elevate your heart rate. Perform the main portion of your workout, then cool down for several minutes when you’re done. Walk around the room or gym slowly, raising, lowering and shaking your arms as your heart rate gradually decreases. Stretch your muscles and hold them to finish your workout.
Alternate upper- and lower-body workouts each day to let your muscles recover from the previous workout. It’s during your rest days that your muscles rebuild and become larger, so don’t work the same muscles in consecutive workouts. Use a 3-by-5 routine to build muscles by performing three sets of one exercise, with five reps per set. Take a 60-second break between sets. On day one, work your legs with standing and box squats, calf raises, leg presses, deadlifts and lunges. On day two, work your upper body with chest presses, curls, triceps extensions, flyes, rows, kickbacks and iron crosses. Flyes require you to flex your hands and arms while keeping the elbow stationary. On days three and four, repeat your day one and two routines.
Alternate your cardio workouts by adding resistance every other day. On day one, work with dumbbells, resistance bands, a kettlebell or aerobic machines to raise your heart rate. Set an amount of weight or resistance that takes effort to move but won’t cause you to cramp or fatigue to failure before you finish your workout. Alternate the use of your arms and legs to prevent fatigue. You may not be able to work as fast as you do without weight, but you’ll still raise your heart rate to an aerobic level because of the added resistance. On day two, perform a cardio workout without weights, burning calories with quicker, more intense movements. Try step aerobics, a jump rope, aerobic dancing or an exercise machine with no resistance. Repeat day one and two routines on days three and four.
If you work out in a gym, create a four-day “quadrathlon” using four different machines to vary your workouts. Use a treadmill on day one, an exercise bike on day two, an elliptical on day three and a rowing machine on day four. As an alternative, if you have an hour to work out, use four different machines for 15 minutes each. If you only have 30 minutes, use two different machines for 15 minutes on day one, then use two other machines on day two, repeating these workouts on days three and four.
You can perform the same two- or four-machine workouts each day, changing the resistance settings on the machines. Increase the incline, gear setting, speed and resistance on the machines to emphasize muscle use or muscular effort on alternating days. Using a universal machine, perform reps with resistance on days one and three, and with little or no resistance to create fast-paced cardio routines on days three and four.