Total Fitness In Just Three Hours Per Week

Even the busiest person can reach a high level of fitness by dedicating just three hours per week to two gym sessions and one CV training session. Here's how to fit a total fitness routine into just three hours.

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Guidelines for recommended levels of weekly physical activity compound the problem, making it seem impossible to fit in all the exercise necessary for optimum all-round fitness.

The recommended exercise levels for a healthy adult are:

  • Cardiovascular (CV) exercise (training the heart and lungs): Three to five, 20 minute sessions per week.
  • Resistance training: Two sessions per week, exercising all the main muscle groups of the body.
  • Core training: Integral component in any balanced fitness programme.
  • Flexibility exercises: Stretching all the main muscle groups is essential to reduce risk of injury, maintain postural alignment and full muscle function.

If you also factor in traveling to gyms, changing and showering etc, it’s no surprise that many people struggle to commit to a regular fitness routine and feel that it is impossible to make sufficient time to keep fit.

The hectic schedule fitness solution

However, with careful planning it is actually possible to reach and maintain a high level of all-round fitness with just three one-hour training sessions per week. The key is to combine cardiovascular and resistance training with the other disciplines so that you maximise your time and gains each session.

Planning your fitness training week

Day Training Notes

Monday

Rest day

Recovery from previous Sunday’s session

Tuesday Gym training session (1 hour total) Quality combination conditioning, CV, core and flexibility session
Wednesday Rest day Recovery from Tuesday’s session
Thursday Rest day Recovery from Tuesday’s session
Friday Gym training session (1 hour total) Quality combination conditioning, CV, core and flexibility session
Saturday Rest day Recovery from Friday’s session
Sunday

CV Training (1 hour maximum)

Walking, jogging, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, gym machines i.e.: cross-trainer, treadmill, indoor rower, step machine, stationary bike
Dedicated CV session

Rest days (when you are not training) are the most important part of any fitness programme. They are essential in allowing your body to rebuild following the demands that you have placed on it during training. Missing rest days can lead to:

  • Fatigue build-up
  • Overtraining
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Loss of motivation
  • Reduced fitness gains and reduced progression

Sample training programme

Gym training session

  • Five minutes easy warm-up
  • Five minutes more intense CV, sufficient to get you out of breath
  • One set of 15 to 20 repetitions of an exercise to train the following parts of the body: legs, chest, upper back
  • Five minutes CV, sufficient to get you out of breath
  • One set of 15 to 20 repetitions of an exercise to train the following parts of the body: shoulders, biceps, triceps
  • Five minutes CV, sufficient to get you out of breath
  • One set of 15 to 20 repetitions of an exercise to train the following parts of the body: abdominals and obliques (stomach and abdomen), lower-back
  • Two or three specific core training exercises
  • Five to 10 minutes CV, light intensity, gradually bringing heart rate back to normal
  • Five to 10 minutes stretching exercises

This entire session will take no more than one hour, including set-up time between exercises. For added variety, substitute different exercises each time you train and different CV training (running, rowing, cross-trainer etc), throughout the session.

CV training session

Carry out a light warm-up for a minimum of five minutes, ideally carrying out the same activity as your main session. You can either use a combination of exercises such as jogging and walking, or rowing and cross-training, or one continuous exercise such as cycling or swimming. Either way, you need to gradually build up your endurance until you can train continuously for 45 minutes.

Cool down with some lower-intensity CV, ideally the same discipline. For example, if you have been jogging, walk for five minutes. Or, if you have been swimming front crawl, relax with a few minutes of breaststroke.

Finish your session by stretching the main muscle groups employed.

This economy measure programme takes less than 2 per cent of your week, yet is completely balanced to exercise your entire body.