Here’s my fitness plan for a typical week:
Sunday // 10 minute run, core
Monday // rest
Tuesday // 10 minute run, biceps, triceps, shoulders
Wednesday // rest
Thursday // 10 minute run, chest and back(?)
Friday // Hike (if it’s warm enough!)
Saturday // 5 minute warm-up cardio, legs
You might have guessed just by looking at that, but I love lifting. And you’re going to notice me endorsing it a lot. Yes, even if you’re a female. 🙂
Here are a few reasons why.
1. The fitness model bod
Okay, so all those fitness models you see in pictures holding tiny dumbbells or running?
Yeah, they don’t look like that because they lifted little pink weights and ran a lot and drank green juice.
They look like that because they lift. Heavy. They can probably bench press their body weight, if not more.
A common concern among women is that if they lift, they’ll suddenly pump up and look like a bodybuilder dude. Not to worry, though–that does not happen accidentally. Even dudes have to work like crazy to get that way, and if you’re a woman you definitely won’t ever look that way because our bodies are different. We don’t have as much testosterone.
Lifting heavy isn’t going to make you look like a bodybuilder dude. If you have the correct percentage of body fat, it is much more likely to give you what I call the “fitness model bod.”
2. Lose body fat
Muscle burns more calories per pound than fat. Muscle burns about ten calories per pound per day, whereas fat only burns two or three calories per pound per day.
That means that the more muscle you put on, the more calories your body burns at rest.
And that could mean some very good things for you if you’re trying to lose weight.
3. Improve the strength of more than just muscle
Weightlifting also helps out your bones, connective tissues, and joints, meaning you’re less susceptible to things like broken bones, osteoporosis, sprains, and fractures. It improves posture and can sometimes decrease neck and back pain.
That is, assuming you’re doing back day right and not injuring yourself. 😉
4. Strong, independent woman-ness
It just feels good to be able to open jars by yaself.
A few notes on my weekly fitness plan
Back day: You’ll notice that “back” has a question mark after it. That’s because at this point I’m honestly not sure when I’ll be able to have a back day again, even though (tear) that used to be my favorite day. It’s a lot of fun, so I’ll be sure to still post back workouts for you guys in the coming months.
Running: That “10 minute run” is a baseline, one I’m planning to increase to ~12 minutes mid-February. If you’re already a seasoned runner, you already know how much you should run before a workout. If you’re like me and want to get more into running, maybe stick with the 10 minutes for now.
A word on doing more cardio: You can also cross-train on the elliptical or bike if you want to do more than 10 minutes of cardio. More power to you. Just be sure not to overdo it and remember, that fitness model body is earned through lifting, not more cardio!
BYOW (Build Your Own Workout)
Follow the # steps below and you’ll have your very own personal, customized workout!
Step One: Pick 3 rest days and 4 workouts days
Take an honest look at what a typical, realistic week is like for you. Which days are you busiest? Which days do you find yourself feeling the most tired and unmotivated? My advice to you is to make those your rest days.
On the other hand, which days lend you 45-90 minutes to kill? Make those your workout days!
Step Two: Find your workout slot
Maybe you’re looking at your schedule like, “Jenna, I literally don’t have any days like that.” But I’m telling you, you do. You might need to get creative. You might need to wake up earlier. And you’ll definitely need at least your fair share of motivation to find it.
Here are some “prime times” for getting workouts in. I’m not saying you’ll always feel like working out at these times, but they tend to be the most convenient for the typical 9-5 full-time employed American.
First thing in the morning // I know, I know, this one sucks. In that first moment when you wake up and it’s cold, probably the last thing you’ll want to do is get up and tire yourself out even further.
Buuuuuut if you’re a morning person, or you can just make yourself do it anyway, you’ll feel AMAZING for the rest of the day, I promise. I’ve done it before, and I can tell you firsthand that it gives you an immensely clear head and peak energy for hours afterwards.
During your lunch break // Pros: you already have that time set aside every day. Cons: you may not get enough time at lunch, and then add to that the fact that you may not have access to/time to take a shower.
Personally, this one doesn’t work for me, but a couple of my coworkers run during their lunch hour all the time.
After work // I can hear your tired, overworked groans already. “So you’re telling me that after working a full, 9 hour workday, I’m supposed to go work out?!”
This is my preferred time, because I like to write before work and that doesn’t really leave that many other options.
What’s great about working out after work is that when you do get home after the gym you’ll feel energized rather than wiped out by work. That’s the funny thing about fitness—even though it’s tiring during the process, it makes you less tired afterwards.
Pro-tip: Bring a pre-workout snack and your workout clothes with you in your car so you don’t have to “swing by the house” first. “Swinging by the house” is a trap I’ve fallen into many times. The road to binge-watching on Netflix instead of going to the gym is paved with “swinging by the house.”
After dinner // My only advice to you if you choose this slot is to try to eat light at dinner. Nothing kills my motivation to go work out faster than eating a heavy meal first.
Try eating half of your dinner as a pre-workout and the other half afterwards. That way, you get to re-fuel without overeating.
Step Three: Figure out what you’ll actually do each day
So, at this point you should have found four days during your week that you can fit in a workout. But what do you actually do on those days?
Well, here is the list of muscle groups you’ll need to fit in each week to get balanced strength:
• Legs (calves, quads, hamstrings)
• Arms (biceps, triceps, shoulders)
• Cardiovascular system (okay, not a muscle group, but still important!)
You can break up individual muscles in your legs and arms (i.e. do calves on a different day than quads), but if you’re just starting out it might simplify all of this a little to just do “arms” on one day and “legs” on another, rather than throw quads in on bicep day and calves in with back day, etc.
Earlier in this post I laid out how I break all of this up in a typical week, so feel free to copy what I do! I also know a lot of people who do “bi’s, tri’s, and thighs” (biceps, triceps, and quads) on one day, shoulders on the same day as calves…you get the picture. Do what feels right to you!
Also, if you miss a workout one week, it’s not the end of the world. Just do whatever workout you missed when you go to the gym next.
unfortunately, cardio is important.
That’s why I listed “cardiovascular system” up there. Try to have 1-2 days where you do extended cardio. This will seriously help out your lungs, heart, and a ton of other things in your body. You’ll notice that I have “hiking” as its own day in my workout schedule. That’s my cardio day. If you’re trying to lose weight, doing some extended cardio can also speed up that process. Just try not to eat back all the calories you just burned! An unfortunate fact of life is that running a mile only burns about 100 calories.
Step Four: Pick which exercises you’ll do for each workout.
This is the fun part, yay! You get to actually pick and choose which exercises you like and don’t like and totally customize your own workout week.
All you have to do is pick out 5-7 exercises for whatever muscle group you want to focus on each day.
If you don’t already have a list of possible exercises you can pick from, this is your lucky day! I’ve compiled 4 lists of possible exercises you can do (one for back, chest, arms, and legs). Altogether it totals up to 46 exercises! That’s really all you’ll need, and you’ll get it in a nice format that you can refer to again and again. I’ll deliver all four lists straight to your inbox for free right now, just tell me what your email is below!
BONUS OFFER: If you didn’t know already, I made you a workout planner! This planner will allow you to utilize what we talked about in this post and create a visual and tangible schedule for yourself.
Right now it’s listed on Amazon for TWENTY EIGHT frickin’ dollars. I know that’s a lot. Turns out, distribution costs can be kinda high. I’m actually not taking in much of that $28 at all, so I definitely don’t want to make you pay that much.
So, for a short time it’s all yours for TEN BUCKS.
If you just want an eBook version, that’s even cheaper.
If you didn’t know, I have a shop on the blog now, and as a thank you for being one of my first customers, you can download the eBook version of the tracker and print it yourself for just $3.
I’d say that’s pretty awesome.
I’m using this thing too, so we can go through it together!
Also, if you don’t already know, I send out a newsletter called Strong Babe Club. It’s focused around health and fitness. I send out things like my favorite workouts, workout playlists, healthy meal ideas, etc. If you’re interested, scroll back up a tiny bit and enter your name and email into that form! If you already did to get the exercise lists, don’t worry–you’re in!
I’m excited to be able to start down the road to fitness with you. Have fun, and be safe!
Until next time,