Do you feel bad if you are not able to hit the gym 5 days a week? With our overwhelming schedules, setting time aside for exercise sometimes takes a back seat.
You have to account for the time it takes you to get to your gym /fitness centre, the parking, the change of clothes and lastly the shower. If you are in the gym for an hour, then these other things take up one more hour of your precious time. So, how do you meet your exercise quota for the week without going in and out of the gym 5-6 days a week?
It need not be so overwhelming. Lets explore how much you really need and also how to make sure you cover it:
Your weekly exercise routine needs to be a mix of both aerobic conditioning and weight training.
In aerobic exercise your energy is coming from energy release in the presence of oxygen – over time your blood circulation becomes more efficient with more blood reaching your tissues with each pump. After doing aerobic exercises you will find you will be able to climb more stairs and run that extra mile without gasping for air.
The anaerobic exercises like strength training (push-ups, sprinting, weight lifting) utilise energy produced largely in the absence of oxygen. This happens when you demand a sudden burst of energy. This energy can sustain your efforts only for a short period of time, about 30 seconds.
Anaerobic system places a demand on the fast twitch fibres in your muscles. By recruiting those in your training you increase your muscle mass. This can be like a magic wand for you if you want to break a plateau in your performance, lose some weight or generally get a lean and toned physique. More lean muscles in your body leads to increased metabolism! (Ref1)
Anyway, lets get back to how much exercise we need and how to make sure it gets covered in our busy weeks:
1. How Much Exercise to maintain your health and fitness levels:
As per the US department of Health and NHS in UK, it is recommended that you get 2 1/2 hours of moderate aerobic exercise in a week (includes walking, swimming or mowing the lawn) OR 75 mins of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, aerobic dancing aka the Zumba of these days).
In addition you should do two strength training sessions in a week (Ref2). So in all about 4 hours of the total 168 hours you have in a week. Easy right?
Here is how you can make it happen, select any one exercise from section A and one from section B to cover your quota for the week.
(A) Aerobic exercise
- Walking for 30 mins – 5days a week OR
- Water Aerobics for 30 mins – 5 days a week OR
- Cycling on level ground for 30 mins – 5 days a week OR
- Jogging /Running for 35 mins – 2 days a week OR
- Swimming (fast) for 35 mins – 2 days a week OR
- Attending an aerobics or Zumba class for 35 mins – 2 days a week OR
- Power yoga for 35 mins – 2 days a week OR
- Playing football for an hour and 15 minutes – 1 day a week OR
- Playing Singles Tennis for an hour and 15 mins – 1 day a week
(B) Strength training
- Weight lifting for 40 mins – 2 days a week OR
- *Sprints in bursts of 30 seconds, 8-10 times in a 30 mins session – 2 days a week OR
- Using resistance bands or body weight for 15 mins – 5 days a week
*Sprinting builds muscles in your legs and glutes (aka your butt) but not as much in your upper body – alternate every week with strength training sessions
2. How Much Exercise to lose weight
However, if you are looking to lose weight, you need to ADD the following to your week:
100 minutes of aerobic at moderate intensity (walking, water aerobics, cycling, etc) OR 50mins at high intensity (Ref3).
And this is how you can accomplish it:
Increase your moderate intensity aerobic workouts (walking, etc) from 30 mins to 50 mins – 5 days a week along with your 40 mins of strength-training sessions, 2 days a week.
If this seems like a lot, you can compress the time by doing high intensity cardio for 60 minutes for 2 days per week and your strength training 2 days a week.
If you clean out your diet then the weight loss should follow.
3. How Much Exercise to gain weight /muscles
For those with a fast metabolism, gaining bulk can be tricky. If you want to gain lean muscle mass, you will benefit from increasing your weight training days. For those who are scared of looking like pro body builders, you can read about all the myths of weight lifting here.
Increase your weight training sessions to 3-4 times a week. Try not to train on consecutive days as rest is very important for your muscles need to recover and grow.
You can split your routine from circuit to training individual body parts on different days. Make sure you are hitting all the major muscle groups every week. And of course, make sure you are fuelled and ready for heavy workouts.
Hope this has helped and the suggested exercise splits are manageable given your daily routines. 🙂
Ref1: Speakman JR, Selman C. Physical activity and resting metabolic rate. Proc Nutr Soc. 2003. Aug 62(3): 621-34
Ref2: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2015.
Ref3: Donnelly JE, Blair SN, et al. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Feb; 41(2):459-71