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Let me ask you “What’s the best exercise for your workout schedule?”The answer is the one you’ll keep doing over and over again. But that begs the questions: how do you find the best workout for you? Scheduling things like interval training and group fitness classes are great, but only if you actually do them. We tapped David Otey, personal trainer at Equinox Sports Club in New York City, to map out how to best optimize your workout schedule, whether you’re a weekend warrior or hour-a-day addict.
You’ve got: 2-3 hours on the weekendThe Verdict: It’s far from ideal but a lot better than nothing. “I’m never a supporter of weekend-only workouts because it’s not enough to yield a change beyond burning some calories, and packing it all into two consecutive days can wear down the body,” says Otey.The Plan: “Get in a solid strength and cardio session, then do something restorative that will put you in a good mindset for Monday. You’ll have a productive start to the week, which will up your odds of getting to the gym more regularly,” says Otey. Your workout schedule:
  • Saturday45 minutes of full-body strength training and 30 minutes of cardio.  
  • Sunday60 minutes of Pilates or yoga. (Try our Piyo workout!)

You’ve got: an hour twice a weekThe Verdict: “It’s best to exercise more frequently, but at least you can space out these workouts for more effective training,” says Otey.The PlanSet your workouts for Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday. (On the weekends, aim to get in as many cardio-based activities with your family and friends.) Your workout schedule:
  • Day 130 minutes of full body strength training using compound movements and both pressing and pulling motions (to hit every major muscle group) plus 30 minutes of a cardio circuit.
  • Day 2Repeat.
You’ve got: 30 minutes four days a weekThe Verdict: “If you can keep the pace up and work your muscles hard enough so that you’re burning fat after the workout is over, this is a good plan,” says Otey.The PlanAlternate strength circuits with cardio and a restorative practice. Your workout schedule:
  • Day 130-minute weight-training circuit, focusing on pressing motions (to hit the chest, thighs, shoulders)
  • Day 230 minutes of cardio or HIIT (high-intensity interval workout)
  • Day 330-minute weight-training circuit, focusing on pulling movements (to hit the biceps, hamstrings, back)
  • Day 430 minutes of yoga, Pilates, barre, or other restorative work
You’ve got: an hour five+ days a weekThe VerdictA for effort, just be wary of overtraining, says Otey. Be careful that you’re spending your time efficiently, too: “If you’re spending any one of those full hours on the elliptical to burn cals, remember you’re better off skipping the bagel in the morning.”The PlanAlternate strength circuits with cardio and one day of restorative work. Your workout schedule:
  • Day 130-minute strength “pulling” circuit, 30 minutes of cardio
  • Day 230-minute strength “pushing” circuit, 30 minutes of cardio
  • Day 3Pilates, yoga, barre, or other restorative work
  • Day 430-minute strength “pulling” circuit, 30 minutes of cardio
  • Day 530-minute strength “pushing” circuit, 30 minutes of cardio

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