What to Do When You Only Have Time for One Workout a Week

Head outside for some vitamin D with your sweat session.
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Here's something all weekend warriors know to be true: Even a single intense weekly workout puts you in better health than lying on the coach. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, weekend exercisers reported a 40 percent lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.


But don't dust off that mountain bike or cross-country skis just yet. The downside is that some weekend warriors battle so bravely and with such intensity that they increase their chances of injury and burnout.

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The key is to find balance.

But creating balance in your life and body can be challenging. Maintaining a variety of components of fitness — cardiovascular conditioning, muscular strength, flexibility, a meditation practice and outdoor adventure — is no easy feat.


Maybe you don't have the time to attend a 90-minute yoga class or go on a 11-mile hike, but rather than getting bummed out and resentful of your busy schedule, try this weekend workout to keep all of your fitness tools sharp and fill your exercise quota for the week.

Reap the Benefits in a Fraction of the Time

It may sound like an infomercial claim, but there are benefits to getting in one really intense workout per week if that's all you can manage.


The workout that follows contains all elements of fitness and conditioning and elevates your mood too, thanks to Mother Nature! Other benefits and bonuses include:

  • Lowered stress: You don't having to sign up for a class, drive to a studio or hire a babysitter.
  • It's inexpensive: There's no charge; you supply your own motivation and fuel to get moving and push yourself to reach new heights.
  • A chance to get social: Grab a friend or co-worker for motivation, support and accountability.
  • Balanced intensity: Going hard for two hours straight when you're coming off a draining workweek isn't wise for most. This workout offers waves of intensity so you push hard, but also have time to recover.
  • Go at your own pace: Opt to walk or run the cardio sections and focus on proper form over speed for all exercises.
  • Take this workout anywhere: If possible, get outdoors and find a trail or scenic loop. This workout can also be done indoors on a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical in place of the walk/run components.
  • Create healthy habits: Once you get started with this workout, you'll likely find that you want to do more. Even when time is an issue, you can break apart this workout and do just certain elements at various times throughout the week. After all, a one-mile run and 10 minutes of yoga in the airport is better than nothing!



Get ready to run, stretch and HIIT!
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The Ultimate Workout for Weekend Warriors

1. Warm-Up

Walk or run for five minutes.


2. Mobility

Do all of these exercises one time through.

a. Backstroke (10 per arm): Circle one arm at a time backward.

b. Squat With Standing Pigeon (5 per leg): Squat down, stand up, and then draw one knee in toward the chest. Repeat on the other side.


c. Hamstring Opener (10 per leg): Lift one leg in front of you and grab with the opposite hand.

d. Inchworm to Downward-Facing Dog (5): Fold forward, walk your hands into a plank and hold. Lift your hips so you're an inverted V shape. Lower and walk hands back.

e. Squat to Calf Raise (10): Squat down, and then stand all the way up, raising onto your tiptoes.


Read more: 9 Moves You Can Do Every Day for Better Joint Mobility

3. Cardio Endurance

Walk or run for six minutes.

4. Strength

Perform three rounds with a 30-second rest in between rounds.



a. Squat Hold (60 seconds): Lower into a squat and hold. Or hold a squat while supporting your back against a wall.

b. Push-Ups With Knee Cross (10 per side): Do one push-up, and then bring your right knee toward your left elbow. Continue, alternating sides with each rep.

c. Side Plank With Leg Raise (10 per side): From a side plank, lift your top arm. Lift and lower your top leg for 10 reps. Repeat on the other side.

d. Walking Lunges (15 per leg): Step one foot out in front of you, bend both knees, and then stand up, continuing to walk forward this way.

Read more: 11 Simple Ways to Add Variety to Your Strength-Training Routine

5. Cardio Endurance

Walk or run for seven minutes.


Do three rounds with a 30-second rest in between rounds.

a. Jump Squats (10): From a squat, jump up and land back in a squat.

b. Ice Skaters (10 per side): Jump to one side, balancing on the outside leg and bringing the opposite leg behind. Then leap to the other side.

c. Burpees (10): Squat down, jump the feet back into a plank, do a push-up, jump your feet to your hands, and then jump up.

d. Sprint and Backpedal for 50 meters three times.

Read more: 5 Myths About HIIT Debunked


7. Cardio Endurance

Walk or run for eight minutes.

8. Yoga

Perform in a sequence, holding each pose for five breaths.

a. Mountain Pose: Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart.

b. Forward Fold: From standing, bring your chest toward your thighs.

c. Plank Pose: Step back to plank, bringing your wrists under your shoulders.

d. Low Cobra: Lower to the floor with the tops of the feet down. Lift your chest away from the ground.

e. Downward-Facing Dog: Lift your hips so you're in an inverted V shape.

f. Warrior 1 (right side): Step your right leg between your hands. Turn your left heel out at a 45-degree angle. Raise your arms up and connect the palms.

g. Warrior 2 (right side): Open your hips to the side, bend your right knee and spread your arms out at shoulder height.

h. Triangle Pose (right side): Straighten your front leg and hinge over your right foot. Raise your left arm overhead.

i. Half Moon (right side): Bend your front knee slightly and lift the back leg off the ground. Right fingertips are on the ground and the left arm is up.

j. Standing Splits: Internally rotate your left leg, keeping it lifted as you bring your left arm down to meet your right arm.


k. Warrior 3: From standing splits, bring your hands to prayer position at your heart or extend your arms by your sides or out in front of you.

l. Take a Vinyasa (forward fold, plank, Downward-Facing Dog) and repeat the Warrior sequence on the left side.

Read more: 11 Essential Yoga Poses Everyone Should Practice

9. Cardio Endurance

Walk or run for nine minutes.

10. Cooldown and Stretch

Hold each stretch for 45 to 60 seconds.

a. Wide-Leg Forward Fold With Hands Behind Back: Step your feet out wider than the hips. Interlace your hands behind your back. Exhale and fold forward. Raise your arms overhead.

b. Low Lunge and Quad Stretch: Come into a lunge with your back knee down. Bend the back knee and bring the heel toward your butt. Grab the foot and draw it in. Do on both sides.

c. Spinal Twist: Lie on your back with your arms out to the side. Draw one knee in toward your chest. Allow the knee to cross your body, coming into a twist. Repeat on the other side.

11. Meditation

Come to a seated position. Cross your shins and sit tall. Draw your navel in toward the spine. Lift your heart, bow your head and be still. Focusing on your breath, inhale for a count of five seconds. Exhale for a count of five seconds. Repeat for 10 cycles.

Read more: 8 Easy Mindful-Meditation Techniques

Check your fitness tracker — how many calories did you burn?1
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What Do YOU Think?

What does your weekly workout routine look like? How many times a week do you work out? Do you find yourself stretched for time? Do you consider yourself a weekend warrior? What kind of adventures does your typical weekend include? Will you try this workout as a whole or break it up? Share your answers, suggestions and questions in the comments below!



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