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Setting up a workout schedule

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Schedule your way to fitness

Some women can’t wait to bound out of bed to workout, while other women find excuse after excuse to forgo a daily sweat. Regardless of which fitness enthusiasm category you fall into, setting up a workout schedule will motivate you to keep to your exercise plan. When you have your workouts scheduled, you’re more likely to do them -- and less likely to overdo them, if you’re a fitness fanatic. Here’s how to set up a workout schedule that is right for you.

Happy woman exercising

How much exercise is enough?

Before you create your workout schedule, it's important to know how much exercise you need for optimal fitness. Training for a marathon isn't required, but a begrudging 30-minute cardio workout a week isn't enough either.

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health — aerobic and muscle-strengthening. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups each week.

Read more: Best reasons to get fit >>

Moderate versus vigorous cardio

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and pushing a lawn mower. Moderate activity will get your heart rate high enough that you break a sweat.

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is jogging, running, swimming laps, playing singles tennis and playing basketball. Vigorous activity will significantly raise your heart and respiratory rates so that you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

One minute of vigorous activity is equivalent to about two minutes of moderate activity.

Do a variety of cardio activities each week to keep from getting bored with your workouts, to reduce your risk of repetitive-stress injuries and to help you achieve optimal cardio fitness.

Read more: Tips for changing up your workout >>

Setting up your workout schedule

Whether it be on your smartphone or a pocket calendar, schedule your workouts and rest days for each week ahead of time. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week and two days of full-body strength training workouts.

Here's a sample workout plan:

Monday: 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity, such as power walking, elliptical or Spin class.

Tuesday: 20 minutes of a full-body strength training routine, circuit training or Body Pump.

Wednesday: Rest day or a yoga, Pilates or stretching class.

Thursday: 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as jogging, hiking or swimming.

Friday: 20 minutes of a full-body strength training routine, circuit training or Body Pump.

Saturday: 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity, such as power walking, rowing machine or stair climbing.

Sunday: Rest day or a yoga, Pilates or stretching class.

If cardio is not your favorite workout, mix up your cardio sessions to include different activities. For example, do 10 minutes on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the stationary bike and run/walk stairs for five minutes. You can also break up your cardio throughout the day by doing two or three 10-minute mini-workouts.

Read more: Using your city to get fit >>

More fitness tips

Quick cardio workouts in your neighborhood
Tips for keeping a workout schedule
Ways to motivate yourself to get fit

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