The Best Weekly Workout Plan to Lose Weight & Build Muscle 💪🏽
Updated: Apr 16
If you're wanting to a lose weight, creating a workout plan is a must. Incorporating regular exercise will help you meet your goals in a healthy, sustainable way—but sometimes, just knowing where to start can be frustrating. From how often you sweat to the types of workout routines that you do. There are endless possibilities when you're first getting into a new fitness routine, to the point it can become overwhelming.
Before we dive in, lets make it clear that weight loss isn't necessarily the goal for everyone. For some of us, we desire to put on weight; meaning become healthier by gaining muscle. Also note, exercise is only part of the equation. Your eating habits will be the key factor to seeing results. Nutrition is 80% of the journey to success when it comes to achieving our desired physique (more on that below), and getting sufficient sleep and keeping stress levels low are both important, too. With so many factors at play, it's no wonder weight loss is a very unique experience for every person.
Sweat alone is not enough: Successful weight loss requires strategy
You cannot talk about exercising to lose weight without also analyzing your eating habits, another critical element to achieve your goals. To lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you are burning throughout the day. You also need to be mindful of what you are eating and how much. You want to be enjoying quality calories while creating a calorie deficit.
You cannot out train a poor diet. As mentioned, 80 % of the journey is what you put into your mouth, 20% is what you do with your body. Of course creating healthier habits does not happen over night. Do not feel the pressure to go cold turkey, that is not sustainable. Rather start small. If you have recently created the habit to start exercising 20-30 minutes three times of week, excellent. That may naturally lead you to start making healthier eating choices too. Remember, slow and steady is what wins the race.
And when it comes to working out variety is the spice of life. You want a program where you can progress, that way you know you are making progress. This is what we will go into below. You can use this as a guide and starting point then tailor it to your needs. And if you miss a workout, no sweat. Just jump right back in the next day and keep moving one day at a time. As my spouse always tells me, "It's a marathon, not a sprint." Unless you have sprints that day ;-)
Fitness programming breakdown:
Strength training 3x/week, 45 to 60 minutes per session
HIIT: High-intensity interval training 1x/week, 20 minutes per session
Steady-state cardio 1x/week, 35 to 45 minutes per session
Two days of active recovery
Each workout should begin with at least three to five minutes of warming up: stretching and foam rolling to help with mobility. Then go into a five minute dynamic warm up to get your blood flowing such as jumping jacks, high knees, deep squats, arm circles, hip rotations and so forth. Post workout you always want to make sure to properly cool down, relax the nervous system and stretch again. Stretching post workout is excellent since your muscle are still warm and it will help increase your flexibility, but also allow you to lift heavier, move better and aid in weight loss. While stretching the major muscle groups you just worked, make sure to hold each for at least three breathes.
Strength Training — 45 to 60 Min — 3x/Week
You may think you need to do a ton of cardio in order to lose weight. That is a myth. Strength weight training is extremely important if you want to drop inches from your waistline. More muscle mass means you'll have an increase in your basal metabolic rate; which also means burning more calories all day long while doing absolutely nothing, even while you sleep. Why? Because now the body needs to work harder to help maintain that muscle.
When building muscle, it is best to do total-body sessions. Working specific body parts is great, but when life happens and you need to miss a workout, you will now be imbalanced. Also compound (full-body/multiple muscle groups) movements burns the most calories.
The Best Strength Program/Plan:
1) Compound lower-body exercise (e.g. deadlift, squat)
Any compound lower-body move or variation will work for this one, like a dumbbell deadlift or a goblet squat. The key here is to lift heavy. When you are targeting larger muscle groups, the best way they respond is when they are being pushed outside their comfort zone. You want to challenge yourself, but not too heavy where there is discomfort. Always listen to your body to prevent injury.
The average number of reps is 12-15, and it should get challenging toward the end. But it is also great to work up to a five rep max each session. This will allow you to keep track and gage your progress as you increase weight load over time. Do five reps with a relatively light weight, rest, do five reps with weight that's five pounds heavier, rest, and keep repeating this pattern, using five more pounds every time. When you hit a weight where you can only do five with good form, you're done—keep that number in mind and try to beat it over time.
2) Upper-body superset: Upper-body pushing exercise (e.g. dumbbell bench press, push up) & upper-body pulling exercise (e.g. single-arm bent over row, dumbbell curl)
You’ll be super-setting these moves, which means doing one set of the first exercise followed immediately by a set of the other. I recommend doing three sets of 12 reps of each move. Don’t rest in between the two movements (raising your heart rate incorporates some cardio work), but you can take up to a one minute break before starting a new set. Alternating between pushing and pulling movements allows you to work opposing muscle groups.
3) Lower-body/core superset: Unilateral lower-body move (e.g. reverse lunge, step-up) & core move (e.g. plank, Russian twists)
A unilateral lower body move is one where you work one leg at a time (another example is a Bulgarian split squat). By working only one side at a time, you can be sure you're not relying on one leg more than the other. After you've done both sides, you can superset it with an abs movement. Again, do three sets of 12 reps without resting in between the exercises (feel free to take one minute rest between sets). If you choose a plank for the core move, hold for 30 to 45 seconds.
4) Metabolic finisher
This is where you'll get a boost of cardio in and allow you to get your heart rate going for an immediate calorie burn. You could choose an exercise and do it for a certain amount of time (say, three minutes of quickly jumping rope), or decide to do a certain move for a specific number of reps as fast as possible; ie 10-15 burpees as fast as possible. The time you take and what you do are entirely up to you, so mix it up. If you need a starting point, I suggest 10-15 mountain climbers, burpees, or plank commandos/up-downs for as many rounds within 7 minutes. This is also considered an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). I often include these types of circuits within my training with my clients. Then, cool it down, and you're done for the day!
HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training
20 Minutes — 1x/Week
The first of your two days of cardio should be a HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is going to incite way more fat loss than just steady-state cardio. When you're working in that high-intensity threshold you're not only burning a lot of calories during the workout, but you raise your metabolic rate significantly afterwards. Your body will need to work harder and longer to return to a resting state, burning more calories in the process.
The Best HIIT Program/Plan:
Choose an activity you like as a template—maybe it's running, cycling, or bodyweight moves. Or one of my 20 minute HIIT workouts on my YouTube Channel. Whatever it is, push as hard as you possibly can for 30 seconds, then back off for a rest period. How long you rest will depend on your fitness level. If you’re just starting, you may want to try a 2-to-1 rest-to-work ratio: 30 seconds of work followed by 60 seconds of rest. Then you can reduce your rest time every week. Tabata is also another option which is 20 seconds of work all out with 10 seconds of rest. Whatever you choose, repeat that work/rest circuit until your 20 minutes are up.
35 to 45 Minutes — 1x/Week
And here’s your second day of cardio. This time it’s all about that long, slow burn. Steady-state cardio raises the heart rate, speeds recovery, and improves your body's ability to use oxygen properly.
The Best Cardio Program/Plan:
Whatever you want! Running, rowing, biking, swimming, hiking... the list is endless. Anything that gets your heart rate up but you can still carry a conversation.
Active Recovery — 2x/Week
Two days out of your week will be active recovery days. This is when your body has a chance to rest and rebuild muscle fibers that you’ve been tearing during your workouts. This is where the magic happens and you where you really get stronger.
Note: an active recovery day isn't a free pass to lie on the couch and do nothing. You still want to be moving to help increase blood flow, driving more oxygen rich blood to your muscles to speed recovery. Faster recovery could equal faster results. So you want to be moving a little, such as a brisk walk, cleaning around the house, playing outdoors with your dog or kids. As long as you're moving around a bit, you're good to go. Whatever it is, make it fun and bring a friend along.
I hope you found all that helpful. This is the strategy I used to help me lose weight and transform my body. Along with how I structure my programing with my clients to help them achieve success toward their goals. Real results, no gimmicks, just consistent work and dedication. Plus nutrition and creating healthier habits, which we will touch on next time. 😉
If you are needing some extra accountability to reach your desired physique, don't be shy, let me know. I would love for you to join my 30 Day HIIT Challenge 100% Free! Where you will receive a meal plan and training plan for 30 days, plus access to my Fitspiration Facebook group where there are other amazing women there supporting and cheering you on every rep of the way 😊. Looking forward to seeing you there!
In Love & Health