Exercising five days a week is an effective way to burn calories and fat, reducing stress on your body by spreading your workout hours over the course of the week. Performing the same routine five days in a row is not your best bet for maximizing your weight-loss goal -- mix up your workouts to prevent repetitive stress on joints and muscles and to prevent a weight-loss plateau.
No matter what workout format you use, start each one with several minutes of warm-up. The traditional method of stretching, which has you hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds, is actually detrimental to your performance because it temporarily lengthens your muscles and should be saved for after workouts. Warm up with dynamic movements, such as jogging in place, butt kicks, jumping jacks and arm circles. To burn fat efficiently, exercise at the maximum heart rate you can maintain for 30 minutes or longer. You’ll not only get a higher calorie burn, but you’ll create a much longer post-workout calorie burn, according to researchers at Appalachian State University. After you’re done exercising, take a few minutes to cool down with a slow walk around the room, then stretch your arms, legs and core.
Create a workout schedule that alternates the amount of impact and resistance you use to give your body a chance to recover each day. For example, perform high-impact, low-resistance exercises Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and low-impact, high-resistance exercises on Tuesday and Thursday. High-impact, low-resistance exercises include jogging, aerobic dancing, jumping rope and plyo box jumping. If you can’t do high-impact exercise, keep the resistance low with workouts that include swimming, biking, step aerobics or using an elliptical, stair stepper or rowing machine. Your twice-a-week resistance workouts can include using dumbbells, resistance bands, a kettlebell, a home gym and calisthenics. If necessary, such as when you’re traveling or during bad weather, you can perform the same workout every day for one week -- just change your routine the next week.
Low-Resistance Cardio Workouts
To create low-resistance cardio workouts, perform steady-state routines that keep you exercising in your target heart rate range the entire time. Avoid using the same exercise machine every day, and consider using two or more machines per workout, or using a machine for 15 minutes and doing 15 minutes of jumping rope, running stairs or hula hooping.
High-Resistance Cardio Workouts
Adding resistance training to workouts can be tricky because too much weight or resistance can cause muscle fatigue that requires long breaks after each exercise. You don’t have to use heavy dumbbells or a high setting on weight machines to target your muscles while keeping your heart rate high. Use enough weight or resistance so you can perform an exercise at a high intensity for 60 seconds without requiring a long break before you start the next exercise. Many women can add adequate resistance to exercises using a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell. If you perform calisthenics, such as pushups, pullups, chinups, dips or core exercises, perform them quickly to use momentum to give you a bounce after each rep to help you back up. The key to using enough resistance is to make sure you’re keeping your heart rate high and breathing hard with each exercise.
The most common formula for calculating maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age, but Northwestern Medicine researchers warn women that this is too high. In 2010, they studied more than 5,000 adult females and found the old heart rate formula caused women to work too hard. The researchers found that subtracting 88 percent of your age from 206 is a better indicator for females. Once you know your maximum heart rate, multiply it by 0.70 and 0.80 to get your target heart rate range for the aerobic exercise that gives you the longest post-workout calorie burn.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.