Determining the Frequency and Duration of Your Workouts

planning workouts

In addition to determining the type of fitness routine in which you are going to participate, you will also need to determine the amount of time that you can dedicate to your fitness program.

More specifically, you will need to determine the amount of time that you can commit per workout and the number of days per week that you will perform your workout. 

For example, you may determine that you can dedicate approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes per workout, 4 days a week. A typical weekly exercise program schedule is depicted in Table # 1 below.

Evaluate Your Schedule

There are several factors that need to be taken into account when determining the number of days and hours that an individual should commit to their personal fitness program. The first step is to evaluate your personal schedule and determine the available time slots that you can dedicate to your personal fitness program. For instance, are your available time slots in the morning before work, during your lunch hour, or after work? It is important to consider the weekend as well.

Once you have identified your available time slots, you need to write down the amount of time that you have available for each given time slot. The best scenario is one in which you have an available time slot that is open at the same time for each of the days that you plan to work out.

For example, your available time slot may be at 6:00am for 4 days of the week. In this case, you could schedule your workouts on those four specific days at 6:00 in the morning. By doing so, you will not only create a regimented workout schedule that will allow you to form a repeating habit, but also a scenario in which you have increased your probability of sticking with your workout program and actually obtaining you personal fitness goals.     

Sample Workout Schedule and Exercises
Monday 15-minute Workout on Stationary Bike
55-minute Aerobics Class
Tuesday 30-minute Workout on Treadmill
40-minute Workout Machine Circuit Weight Training
Thursday 15-minute Workout on Stationary Bike
55-minute Aerobics Class
Friday 30-minute Workout on Treadmill
40-minute Workout Machine Circuit Weight Training

Table #1: Typical 4 Day per Week Exercise Program 

Target Heart Rate

When determining the amount of time that you are going to set aside for your personal health and well-being, there are a few items to consider. First, when considering a cardiovascular routine, you need to understand the concept of an aerobic effect. An aerobic effect occurs when an individual increases their heart rate to their target heart rate and maintains that heart rate for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. By doing so, an individual will have achieved an aerobic effect. By regularly achieving an aerobic effect you will be well on your way to greatly reducing any heart associated-illnesses.

A simple way to determine your target heart rate is as follows:

Subtract your age from 220. Thereafter, multiple the resultant number by 70% (minimum heart rate). Then multiply the same resultant number by 85% (maximum heart rate). An example calculation to determine an individuals minimum and maximum heart rate is as follows:

Subject: 40 years of age

Minimum heart rate (MHR) = 220 - 40 = 180 X 70% = 126 beats per minute (bpm)

Maximum heart rate (MHR) = 220 - 40 = 180 X 85% = 153 beats per minute (bpm)

NOTE: To achieve an aerobic effect, an individual that is 40 years of age will need to maintain a heart rate that is between 126 bpm (70%) and 153 (85%) bpm for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you will want to increase your average heart rate during the aerobic activity to approximately 75% of your maximum heart rate. At the very least, you should focus your aerobic exercise program on obtaining a target heart rate of at least 70% of your maximum heart rate a minimum of three to five times a week for 20 to 60 consecutive minutes after warming up.

In general, the average non-competitive individual should establish a fitness routine in which they exercise for at least 45 minutes to an hour, 3 to 5 days a week. By doing so, you will be conditioning your entire cardiovascular system, your muscles and your structural frame. By exercising, you will stimulate the internal systems in your body to facilitate not only structural health but internal well-being as well. For instance, your brain, internal organs and glands will begin to operate at an increased level of optimization. In addition, your brain capacity and mental clarity will improve as well.

Modify your Workout Program Over Time

workout planner

As your level of health improves, you will want to modify your workout program over time. A typical timeframe associated with modifying your fitness program could be as often as every 4 weeks and no longer than every 3 months. These modification timelines assume a workout frequency of 3 to 5 times per week.

The primary reason for modifying your workout routine is to keep your body off-balance so that it does not have time to get accustomed to the workout program. By doing so, you will force your body to continually be in a state of improvement. 

Some form of strength training equipment, either weight training machines or free weights, is an excellent addition to any fitness program. Weight training is excellent for raising your Basal Metabolic Rate (the rate at which your body burns calories). More specifically, Raising your Basal Metabolic Rate means that you have increased your metabolism, and hence, are burning more calories per day.

In addition, regularly performing some form of strength training will also strengthen your bones, maintain bone density, improve muscular endurance, decrease your resting blood pressure, help stabilize blood sugar levels, improve immune system functionality, lower your resting heart rate, and improve overall coordination and balance.

If you are weight training, you will want to give each muscle group at least a 48-hour rest period before working it again. This will allow each muscle group the time needed to repair the actual muscle fiber that you tore down during the workout. 

Determine the Right Program for Your Goals

It is important for you to evaluate the amount of time you have set aside to perform your fitness workout vs. your personal fitness goals.

For example, if you are focusing on running a marathon and are only running 5 miles a day, 3 times a week, then you will undoubtedly be disappointed with the results of the marathon race. In other words, it is imperative that you monitor your progress and compare your metrics to your actual fitness goals.

workout schedule

If they are misaligned, simply make the appropriate modifications to your workout routine. If you are not sure of the specific modifications needed, then discuss your goals with an individual that trains in the same area and ask them for their advice.

Remember: the attainment of good health, fitness and mental well-being is a lifelong endeavor. There is no set standard on the rate at which you need to achieve your personal fitness goals. The primary objective should be to create an environment in which you are consistent, focused and knowledgeable in all aspects associated with achieving and maintaining your health and well-being.

As you continue to learn more about various fitness programs and how your body responds to them, you will begin to better align your personal fitness goals with the appropriate fitness programs. Of course this will take time, but the lesson to be learned is that by remaining consistent and sticking with your exercise routine, that you regularly perform, will ensure that your personal fitness goals are realized.

If you are interested in researching specific workout plans and approaches, we would like to encourage you to take a few minutes to peruse through our website. We have several workout programs designed to meet virtually every health and fitness lifestyle, or at the very least, point you in the right direction. In addition, you may want to sign up for our free newsletter and receive even more tips and information related to living a healthy, fit, and prosperous lifestyle.