Programming a week of workouts can be difficult, especially when you are planning those workouts for yourself. Should you run before you lift or after? Do you need to work out twice in one day? Are you factoring in time for rest and recovery? The answer to each of these questions depends on your personal goals and schedule.
The first step in the planning process is identifying your goals and training priorities. If you are a runner in the midst of race season, your training runs are going to take priority over lifting or cross-training. Whereas an endurance athlete in the offseason (my current status) strength training and mobility work become more important. So before you read any further, take a moment and ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.
Now that we have narrowed down your specific training goals, we can begin to discuss types of training. Whatever your reason for training, you will want to include components of strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into your workouts. More specific considerations include core strengthening, sport specific exercise, and flexibility/mobility/durability. For each category I recommend including the following exercises and techniques.
Olympic and compound movements utilizing a barbell: Deadlift, Front/Back/Overhead Squat, Power Clean, Snatch, Bench Press, Overhead/Push Press
Loaded bodyweight exercise: adding weight/an additional load to pull-ups and dips
Kettlebells: in the strength training category kettlebells are paired with Olympic or compound movements during circuits that incorporate a heavier weight and fewer repetitions
Even if you are not a runner or endurance athlete, cardiovascular exercise still needs to be factored into your training program. You do not have to log 5 mile runs or pound out 45 minutes on the trail to improve your stamina, endurance, or calorie burn. Using the techniques I discuss below will help you burn fat and calories, while increase lung and work capacity.
High Intensity Intervals:
working at or near max effort to fatigue the muscles and lungs. Alternate between periods of all our effort and shorter periods of rest.
Example: 400m all out sprint followed by a rest period that is half the amount of time it took your to complete the 400m sprint. Repeat 6-8 times
Intervals/Hill Sprints/Track Workouts:
Mixed work periods from intense effort to low/moderate effort.
Example: Hill sprint that takes 60-90 seconds to complete, then walking or easy jog to start line. Repeat 8-12 times.
High intensity working set for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeated for 8-12 sets.
Example: Overhead kettlebell swings for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8-12 times.
Dynamic, Plyometric, and Jump training:
Kettlebells using a lighter weight for more repetitions or timed, Box jumps, step-ups, jump squats/lunges, medicine ball slams, burpees, jump rope, medicine ball tosses, agility latter, etc.
10 rounds, completed as fast as possible:
2 minutes jump rope
10x step ups
20x jump squat
20x medicine ball slam
I think it goes without saying, but it is worth mentioning…you should not try to use all of these techniques every workout! Remember those “goals” we talked about earlier? Let your goals be your guide for how your training program takes shape. If you are looking to gain muscular size and strength, try and work some cardio specific techniques in a couple times a week. If you are logging 25 miles a week on steady state runs, you probably want to limit the amount of plyometric and jump training you are doing, as your body is taking a pounding during the long runs.
So, with all of that said, what should a week of programming look like? It is possible that someone training to improve overall fitness and strength would look to workout 4 days per week. I would suggest a weekly schedule that looks something like this (including a warm-up and cool-down of course).