Most people aren't gluttons for punishment and prefer not to dedicate the necessary amount of time to create serious bodily changes. In fact, most people also want to do the bare minimum and yield the most results. Unfortunately for these types, that isn't how the body works. Our body's respond to stress. The more we apply the more it will adapt, but if we apply too much stress the body can fail. Over-usage injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis are the most common, but major joint injuries can also occur due to too much progressive overload. So how much time should we dedicate to see solid results? That number you should aim for is 10 hours per week of fitness related activity. That's right, 10 hours! This may sound very unrealistic, but if we break it into days, we are looking at less than 1.5 hours per day. Here is how you can split up your fitness schedule to make that 600 minutes per week easily attainable.
1. Get your cardio in every day! Mix it up so that it doesn't become boring and redundant. Try something like an easy Fartlek workout on Monday, 15-20 minutes of Stair Climber on Tuesday, a 45 minute Spin Class on Wednesday, Track or Treadmill intervals for 30 minutes on Thursday, an easy jog or bike ride for 60 minutes on Friday, and a hike or trail run on Saturday.
This should total about 3.5-5 hours of your fitness for the week. The more weight you are looking to lose, the more cardio you should be putting in. Also, adding cardio DOES NOT mean taking time off from your other fitness activities.
2. Make your resistance training short and sweet but also very intense. I suggest at least 3 "hard" workouts per week. Hard is obviously a relative term but and good indicator of a "hard" workout is at the end of 30-40 minutes you have only taken a total of 5 minutes of combined rest time. These fast-paced workouts will boost your metabolism while also increasing the bodies ability to recover. Do your hard resistance workouts on days that are easier cardio days. You can also combine cardio and resistance into circuits to save time.
Interval workouts and Fartleks are great cardio workouts to mix resistance training and cut down on the amount of time spent in the gym.
3. The most common workout to skip is probably the most important to hit, our corrective exercises. We all make it to the gym for our favorite grueling HIIT class, but most people usually just squeeze a couple corrective exercises in at the end of their workout. While I would never say thats a bad thing, it is much less effective to do 2 exercises than it is to do 2 sessions of correctives. Allowing yourself to focus on what ever muscle imbalances you may have, or joints with a lack in range of motion helps prevent injury and will increase efficiency in the body mechanics.
4. Lastly, the therapeutic aspect of your fitness must be addressed, stretching and myofascial release. I have never told a single person that they foam roll too much. It doesn't matter where or when, but daily stretching and massage will help your body wake up easier. Stiffness and tightness can be mistaken for soreness and lead to skipping your daily fitness fix. 20 minutes per day is all you need. This can even be broke into two 10 minute sessions at the beginning and end of the day. If you really don't like to do it, ask your trainer if they offer stretching sessions. We saw a huge increase in the amount of activity our members were engaging in after the started signing up for 1-2 stretch sessions per week. We also saw a huge decline in the number of complaints about lower back pain, shoulder impingement syndrome, and knee soreness.
By splitting up our fitness into daily goals we can manage our time better and get great results without risking injury or burn-out. Don't expect to hit 10 hours every week, but make it a goal. Some weeks you will do much more and some weeks you might come up a bit short, but sticking to this goal will create healthy habits. Good luck!