Taking too many days off from your exercise routine can undo all your hard work, but you do need at least one day off for your body to recover. So, what is the best six-day workout routine to maximize your training? Whether you use a book, video or personally selected exercises, a six-day routine that combines resistance training and cardio is ideal to hit your fitness goals.
Structuring the Days
The important elements of a successful routine include strength, cardio, core work and stretching. You don't need to hit all of these on the same day, nor should you target the same muscle groups from one day to the next. Muscles require recovery periods to build up after being worked, so you should switch between strength and cardio. Follow a routine that uses strength exercises that target different sections of your body on different days, and break the strength days up with the cardio exercise of your choice. To have a well-rounded routine, make sure your strength-exercise schedule incorporates core work and stretching.
By the Book
In Pamela Peeke's New York Times bestseller, "Body for Life for Women," she sets some ground rules for an effective routine. Perform cardio at least three days a week for at least 30 minutes, and resistance training at least twice a week for up to 45 minutes. Add in a day of Pilates, yoga or some other activity that challenges your flexibility and balance to prevent problems with dexterity and independence that can come with age. Perform strength training on Mondays and Fridays. Concentrate on cardio Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays, change things up with a yoga or Pilates workout. This will satisfy everything the perfect six-day workout requires.
The most effective videos need to have different routines for your upper and lower body, so you can give each muscle group at least one day off. "The Butt Bible" by Pauline Nordin is a highly effective video series that has separate workouts for each half of your body. You can supplement this with two days of cardio exercise, or you can do the lower-body workout twice and the upper-body workout once the first week, and then switch to two upper-body and one lower-body sessions the next week to make room for three cardio sessions a week. Workouts range from 25 to 45 minutes each.
Six-Day Workout for the Time Crunched
Celebrity trainer Jackie Warner's workout video "Personal Training with Jackie: Power Circuit Training" features both combined and isolated routines for the entire body. The upper- and lower-body workouts are each only 15 minutes. The circuit training Warner uses in her video is brief but effective. Shorter workouts mean harder workouts so you can achieve the same big results you would get from a longer routine. If you're looking for the perfect six-day workout to slip into a busy schedule, then use Warner's video for your strength session days.
- Shape: Ask the Celebrity Trainer: What's the Ideal Workout Schedule?
- Mayo Clinic: Fitness Training: Elements of a Well-Rounded Routine
- Body for Life for Women; Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP
- The Butt Bible; Pauline Nordin
- Woman's Day: 10 Best Fitness DVDs
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images