November 15, 2017


Top tips to help structure your weekly workout training programme

IN ONE OF last month’s columns, I outlined how you can design an effective and smart 60 minute workout yourself, and the feedback from this article has been great with many readers attempting that particular session.

One of the most common questions I get asked on a weekly basis is ‘how many times is a good number of sessions to train in a week and what is a good template to stick with?’

The video below is a quick snippet of everything I am going to talk about so perhaps have a watch of that first and if you want to know a bit more detail then follow on and take a few notes.


Video summary

  • Train 3-5 times a week
  • At least 15 minutes of mobility/yoga/body maintenance per session
  • At least 15 minutes of core work per session
  • Heavy strength work, bodyweight drills and hypertrophy work between 2-3 times per week
  • 2 high-intensity weekly sessions
  • 1 60-minute, easy/moderate session a week
  • 1 weekly session of easy/light active recovery

The goal of this week’s article is to give you a really good idea on how you can set up a typical training week. If you are someone who wants to overall have a well rounded approach with their health and fitness then this template is something I know that will keep you on the right track while keeping it interesting and progressive with a long term approach.

The best step is firstly to vary your training. Constantly repeating similar sessions may not necessarily be getting you closer to your target. A big thing I generally see with people on the gym floor is doing the same thing over and over again and still expecting to see improved changes or getting them closer to their goal.

So what is a good template?

In my opinion, training 3-5 times a week is a good start to set yourself. Below is a list of the styles of training I would recommend people to consider when putting together their training plan.

Mobility/yoga/body maintenance work

I talk about this a lot. Generally speaking this isn’t the coolest of stuff to be doing and a lot of the time you won’t see the fitness industry focus on this or promote it.

However, I guarantee you that if you do spend a little time incorporating this into your routine then it’s going to pay off in the long term. It only takes 15 minutes per day.

This could include anything from getting up from your desk or spending a couple of minutes at the end of your gym session to do some extra mobility work with the different tools.

If you are unsure and want to know about the top mobility tools and how to use them then have a browse of this article.

If you look after these areas I guarantee it will transfer to other elements of your workouts, such as improving your squat or aiding your recovery.

Strength and conditioning work

Let’s break this down into two sections.

1. Strength training

Strength training is something I encourage almost everybody to have in their gym programme. No matter what age, level or gender having some sort of emphasis on strength work is only positive for you. I would recommend doing two or three strength sessions per week.

Ideally speaking you could bring in a 20-25 minute strength session into your 60 minute training block and can pair these up with a 15 minute mobility flow and finish it off with a 10-20 minute core workout.

In these strength circuits I would focus on big, compound movements first and work from there. Think back to the three-step approach I wrote about of mechanics, consistency and intensity to go about your strength work the right way.

2. Conditioning training

This is one of the big areas people focus their training on. The main reason for this is purely because of the response conditioning training gives to our bodies; an increase in heart rate, sweat and intensity makes us feel this is perhaps the best style of training for us.

Doing that spin class,that tough HIIT metcon or even that challenging 45 minute circuit class will give us all those feelings. Yes, conditioning work is good,however, I would recommend to pick and choose what style to do and spread out this style of training with different variations in the week. Aim to get 2-4 of these sessions in a week but at the same time vary it up.

This could be anything like a 10 minute HIIT session once or twice a week, a challenging 20 minute circuit or even a 60 minute slow distance run, bike or walk as an active recovery day session once a week.

If you do want an example of HIIT workouts then go test yourself with these three high intensity workouts.

Keep it interesting and continue to change it up with new skills and core work

Very much like mobility work this is something I encourage people to have in their programme.

Ideally speaking I recommend people to do core work at least three times a week and is something you can incorporate very easily into your 45-60 minute session.

Doing basic bodyweight drills is something to start on and get really good at and then progress from there.

Movements like planks and hollow holds are drills you don’t need to look to far off from. Going on a little further you can start looking at using bands, kettlebells or ab wheels if you did want to get a little more adventurous with your training.

If you do have access to this equipment then go test yourself with these 7 tough core exercises.

I always encourage people to change it up every now and then and work towards something new. This could mean anything from focusing on a new goal or working towards a new challenge.

Keeping things fresh is what is going to maintain your interest in training and that could simply include training somewhere different or taking your workout outside.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.