When seeking out a workout or an exercise program, many stress less important aspects, such as “which burns the most fat”, instead of dialing in on the most important one…
Sustainability is the key to any exercise program because no matter what type of exercise you’re doing, nor your particular goal, it becomes useless (long-term) if you cannot sustain it.
Who do you think is better off? An individual who exercises 6 days a week for a few weeks of the year, then quits? Or an individual who exercises 2-3 days a week, every month of every year for the rest of their lives?
Clearly, it is the second individual who will reap the rewards (because of their consistency).
The goal when setting up your programs and/or taking on a program is to get you to acknowledge and prioritize sustainability over all other factors.
Volume, intensity, frequency, tempo, exercise selection, etc all matter (and are very important factors) but they do not compare to the importance of sustainability because even the most perfectly set up program (tailored to your particular goals) is useless if you are unwilling or unable to follow it.
Below are several weekly exercise set-up options that you can try out to see what works best for you.
Option 1: Resistance & Cardio Mix, 3x a Week
Full Body Compound Workout with a 15-20 minute cardio session afterwards. Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays or Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays. Cardio could be walking, jogging, cycling, hitting a heavy bag, or whatever cardio you prefer.
Option 2: Resistance & Cardio Separate, 2x a Week
Resistance Session: Mondays and Fridays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc
Cardio 2-3x a week
20-40 min. Walking/jogging on treadmill or outside, gardening, playing basketball, cycling, etc for 20-40 minutes Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays.
Option 3: Just Getting Started, 3x a Week
20-40 min. of any type of physical activity. Walking, jogging, playing basketball, cycling, gardening, etc. Simply schedule 25-30 minutes of exercise (of any kind) 3 days a week.
You could also start with as little as 10-15 minutes a day, 3 days a week and work your way up from there, strategically adding 5 minutes to each session, each week for the first 4 weeks, then possibly increasing the number of sessions you do.
First, these are just simple, general examples. Also, what works really well for one person will be completely useless to another. The goal is to find an exercise schedule and program that works for YOU and your lifestyle.
Second, you will need to figure out the other program variables such as..
– Exercise selection: I’d recommend sticking to the main compound lifts; squat, bench press, military press, barbell row, pull up, push up, deadlift, etc.
– Volume: the amount of total weight that you lift in a workout or overall week (sets × reps × weight). I’d recommend going slow in the beginning, especially if you have not exercised in a while and/or have little experience.
– Tempo: the time you spend lifting, holding and lowering the weight during one repetition. I would recommend around 1-2 seconds on the concentric (shortening of the muscle), 2 seconds on the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle), and 1 second holds (at the top and bottom of the movement).
– Intensity: the level of physical exertion during exercise. I’d recommend starting with a low intensity and working your way up. One way to change the level of your exercise intensity is by decreasing time at rest.
Third, it would be wise to add some flexibility training into your weekly workouts as well. Spending 15-20 minutes doing some stretching and/or mobility exercises a couple days a week will aid in your flexibility and mobility.
Whether your goal is fat loss, hypertrophy (muscle growth), strength, or general fitness, sustainability and/or consistency is key.
No program will be effective if it cannot be sustained long enough to produce the desired results. And in order for it to be sustained, you need to enjoy doing it.
Likewise, the results that you achieve won’t be maintained if the program (or a similar one) is not followed thereafter.
So more than anything else, focus on whether or not you can and are willing to sustain the program you have chosen.
Though volume, intensity, rest, tempo, and exercise selection are very important factors, without consistency, no program will produce any significant results (regardless of how well you have programmed).
When choosing any program/exercise regimen, always ask yourself, “am I able and willing to sustain this program/exercise regimen long enough to see the results?”.
Thanks for reading! I hope this post can help put things further into perspective (regarding exercise) and ultimately help you in setting yourself up with a sufficient exercise program.