What would the perfect week of exercise look like? Would it be two workouts a day, every day? Would it be full body workouts or would it be focused on individual muscle groups?
A little while back, I wrote a post detailing what I considered to be the perfect day of eating. In that post, I was successful in creating a one-day meal plan that hit and exceeded every vitamin and mineral recommended daily intake (RDI) level, without the use of grains, dairy, or any supplements.
Today, I have put together what I consider to be the perfect week of exercise to go with it.
I should first mention that I use the term “perfect” loosely because the perfect diet and exercise program is going to vary from person-to-person based on their goals. A Mom who works a full-time job and takes care of her family is going to have different nutritional and activity needs then a 25 yr old training to win the CrossFit Games.
The perfect week of exercise I have laid out in this post, is directed towards the average person who wants to burn fat, build muscle, and feel Superhuman, but to do so in a short amount of time with minimal effort. So this perfect week of exercise may or may not be perfect for you, but I still believe that the basic principles are applicable to everyone.
Use the Perfect Week of Exercise to help you in your Superhuman50 Challenge!
Principles of the Perfect Week of Exercise:
1) Exercise should be made up of functional movements that utilize core strength and stability. You will hear us mention “functional fitness training” a lot. This means you are not only building strength or burning fat, but you are improving other areas like balance, conditioning, and agility. Focus on compound movements that resemble activities that appear in daily life, like squatting down or picking things up. Most machines don’t fit this description.
2) Intensity is the defining factor that will create the results we want. If we want our body to change and adapt (i.e. burn fat and build muscle), then we must provide it with an intense enough stimulus that forces the adaptation. Lift HEAVY and run FAST. We often get too comfortable with our workouts. We want you to focus on what is UN-COMFORTABLE and conquer it. Of course, always make sure you are using proper technique when trying a new lift or exercise.
3) Movement is essential to quality of life and should be done daily. Stop thinking about exercise in terms of burning calories or meeting some sort of arbitrary exercise quota. Get in the habit of moving all the time just for the sake of using your body and feeling good. The real benefits of exercise and movement have little to do with body composition and a lot to do with improving your mood, thinking, and hormonal output.
4) Physical activity should be fun. You should never have to dread any of your workouts. Make workouts fun by always trying to compete against yourself to lift more or finish faster. Or take your workouts to new places like a nearby park or beach. Also, at least once a week, go out of your way to do an activity that is ONLY for enjoyment.
5) Exercise must be sustainable over a long period of time. A week of exercise can only be considered perfect if it’s something you can realistically stick to for a lifetime. Avoid the tendency to go from one extreme to the next. Focus on habits that you can stick to everyday.
6) The Perfect week of Exercise cannot be “perfect” without nutrition and rest. In order to fuel intense workouts, you need to supply your body with the correct nutrients. And remember, lifting weights actually tears your muscle. You build muscle in the rebuilding process with proper diet and sleep! There is no point to killing yourself in the gym if you can’t show the same dedication to the other areas of wellness.
Now that we have these principles in place, here are some action steps to incorporate weekly.
Action Steps to the Perfect Week of Exercise
1) Perform 2-3 workouts per week of heavy strength training with compound movements. I recommend sticking to the exercises covered in the 11 Exercises you Can’t Live Without. For most people, squats, deadlifts, 1 push exercise, and 1 pull exercise should be sufficient for the entire week. Heavy strength training means you are choosing weights that you can’t do for more than 15 reps. If you can do more reps, you more weight. Reps between 6-12 per set are optimal.
2) Perform 2-3 workouts per week of intense conditioning for cardiovascular endurance. These workouts should typically last 15-25 minutes with short breaks or intervals. Kettlebell swings, sprints, and burpees are among my favorite exercises for this type of workout. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our post on how to design CrossFit workouts at home.
3) Move your body for a minimum of 20 minutes every single day, preferably first thing in the morning. Moving first thing in the morning will give you more energy, improve your mood, and help you think clearer. Walking, riding a bike, or stretching are great ways to get yourself going in the morning without feeling like you have to get mentally prepared for an intense workout. Set your alarm for 25 minutes earlier and get moving as soon as you wake up. You’d be amazed by what a one-mile walk or slow jog first thing in the morning can do for the rest of your day.
4) Perform at least 1 physical activity per week strictly for fun. This could be a sport like basketball, soccer, volleyball, or ultimate Frisbee. It could be hiking, yoga, or riding your bike. “Fun” means that you would go out of your way to do this activity even if it had NO benefit on your health or body.
Now that we have the goals we are looking to achieve, as well as the action steps to carry it out, let’s look at a sample week of what this all looks like.
My Perfect Week of Exercise
** I would highly recommend that all strength and conditioning workouts be preceded by 5-10 minutes of a dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow and loosen up muscles and concluded with 5-10 minutes of stretching/mobility to help recovery and prevent injuries. This will maximize the strength and flexibility gains of your workouts. Some easy dynamic warm-up options are jump rope, jumping jacks, air squats, lunges, high knees, mountain climbers, push ups, and sit ups. Post-workout stretching should focus on the hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, and glutes.**
One thing that you will probably notice is that all these workouts are short. Even including warm-up and stretching, you can complete any of these in less than 35 minutes. Because despite what many fitness programs will lead you to believe, it doesn’t take much to achieve incredible results. The truth is, if you are doing the right kind of workouts with the appropriate level of intensity, less time is usually better. Combine this perfect week of exercise with the appropriate diet, quality sleep, and other healthy lifestyle factors, and it won’t be long before you reach Superhuman status.
What workouts or activities do you always include in your perfect week? Let us know in the comments below.