Answers to Your Most Common Questions About Workout Scheduling

Workout scheduling is one of the most challenging things about fitness. Elite athletes have coaches and sports scientists telling them exactly how to schedule their workouts. While the rest of us aren’t so lucky, following some simple workout scheduling guidance can go a long way.

Here are some answers to your most basic questions about workout scheduling!

How Many Days to Workout Each Week? 

It depends on your fitness level, experience and goals. A very experienced athlete with a high fitness level can easily work out every day of the week and multiple times every day. A beginner athlete should strongly consider taking two or three days per week entirely off or focused on recovery. If you’re not sure how many recovery days per week you need, here are the signs it’s time for a recovery day.

New runners are very strongly advised to take at least two days off from running per week. These recovery days are essential for your body to heal from the damage inflicted by running the other days.

Strength-focused athletes might only work out three times per week. This is also to allow the body to adapt to the strength training stimulus productively. 

Realistically, your daily availability is the biggest limiter regarding how many days you can work out. Be realistic about your schedule and commitments. You will set yourself up for success if you commit to an achievable amount of days to work out rather than constantly missing the workouts you planned.

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When to Work out / Best Times to Work out?

Morning workouts are likely best for most people’s schedules. As the day goes on, commitments pile up as energy and motivation decline. If you have no motivation, are tired, and didn’t focus on nutrition throughout the day, you will either have a bad workout or skip the activity altogether.

Morning workouts boost your energy throughout the day. It may be hard to get out of bed, but give it a few weeks, and it will (probably) become easier. 

Morning workouts are also ideal for endurance athletes who do strength training (which is suggested for 40+ age athletes). These athletes are advised to do their strength training in the morning and, if time allows, cardio in the evening. This schedule decreases the chances of cardio workouts interfering with strength training adaptations due to the interference effect, as noted in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Afternoon workouts or lunch workouts are also an option. Fitting in a quick run during lunch is great to start a running streak. The problem can be adequately fueling your workout and recovery. If you run during lunch, that means you also probably have to get cleaned up and feed yourself. This adds some time that could make it difficult to get in your workout.

woman running

Evening workouts are very challenging. They can also be very rewarding. Some people may dread “having to work out” at the end of the day. Other people may look forward to working out in the evening because it is a moment they can destress from their day. Working out in the evening is also great because you can get cleaned up, have some nutritious food and then slip into bed for some recovery sleep.

Still not sure when the best time to workout for you is? Read more about when the perfect time to run is.

So, when should you work out? Whenever works best for your schedule. But you’ll probably have the most success if you work out in the morning.

How to Create a Weekly Workout Plan

Creating a weekly workout plan doesn’t need to be complicated. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Decide how many days your schedule allows you to work out in a typical week.
  2. Decide how long you will work out each day.
  3. Decide when you can reasonably and most often fit in those workouts (morning/afternoon/evening).
  4. Plan your intensity days first. They should come after a recovery day. A day off or only cardio training should come after intensity days in most cases.
  5. Plan at least one to three recovery days per week (Mondays and Fridays are typical for most schedules).
  6. If you are focusing on running or other endurance sports, plan your long workouts for either Saturday or Sunday for typical schedules.

man getting ready for an outdoors workout

Here is a sample weekly workout plan for beginner athletes:

Days of the week Workout
Monday Recovery/light stretching 
Tuesday Intensity/strength training
Wednesday Recovery 
Thursday

Medium duration cardio 
Friday Day-off. Focus on good nutrition.
Saturday Long workout
Sunday Medium duration cardio

Here is a sample weekly workout plan for intermediate athletes:

Days of the week Workout
Monday Recovery/light stretching 
Tuesday Intensity/strength training
Wednesday Medium duration cardio 
Thursday Intensity/strength training 
Friday Day-off. Focus on good nutrition.
Saturday Long workout
Sunday Medium duration cardio

Check out our half-marathon running plan too!

Workout Scheduling for Core

You can read numerous posts on the adidas Runtastic blog about how important core exercises are. Many of those posts also say that you work your core is pretty much everything you do (if you’re doing the movements and exercises correctly). So, do you need to schedule core workouts?

Yes. Schedule time to work on your core. It will make your everyday life better, pain-free, and a strong core will probably boost your self-confidence.

You can add on a bit of core work after a run, when you have a few minutes during lunch, or on recovery days if you don’t focus specifically on your core during your other workout days.

Not sure what to do for your core? Check out the 10 best moves to strengthen your core! Make sure to work your glutes too!

woman doing core workouts

Scheduling Workouts to Get Results and Progress as an Athlete

You build fitness by introducing a stimulus your body is not used to, letting your body recover from that stimulus, and then adding a larger dose of stimulus once your body is recovered. This cycle continues until you reach your athletic potential. Your workout schedule will most likely dictate how far you can push your fitness if you are not a professional athlete. 

You need to continually challenge your body if you have lofty goals of one day running a half-marathon or even a full marathon. Think about how you will introduce more challenging stimuli over the course of your training when making your workout calendar. For example, your most demanding week of workouts should probably come around two weeks before your marathon. Your previous weeks of activities should build up to that level of stimulus.

It sounds more complicated than it is. For most athletes, just add a few minutes of working out each week. Eventually, you will max out how much time you can commit to working out before you start missing workouts. Once this happens, increase the intensity of one of your workouts. Once you max out on the intensity of that workout and you still feel like you can handle more, turn up the intensity on that second intensity day of your week.

Keep it simple, don’t push too hard too fast, and listen to your body

Workout Schedule for Women

Most workout schedules are made for men by men. There is a general lack of understanding, research and empathy for how workout schedules for women should differ. Many workout schedules for women are simply the same as they are for men but with reduced intensity and training volume. This is insufficient and grounded in the flawed view that women “can’t handle as much” as men. 

Womens’ workout schedules should take into account biological factors as well as predominant cultural factors. For example, menstrual cycles should factor into workout schedules and event selection. Working out when one is pregnant is different than when one is not pregnant. 

Moreover, cultural factors influence how a large number of women will need to schedule workouts. Despite more pushes for equality, childcare and domestic responsibilities disproportionately fall on womens’ shoulders. Many womens’ schedules do not look like typical “9-5” jobs. This makes scheduling workouts very difficult.

Should it be this way? Absolutely not. But for many people, it is the reality. If this is the case, be flexible, ask for support when you need it, and know that it’s okay to take time for yourself to accomplish your goals too. 

Workout Scheduling with Training Plan Builder

Did you know that the adidas Running and Training apps have built-in training plan builders for premium members? Whether you are a beginner athlete that wants to lose one or two kilos or an experienced athlete ready to take on your first marathon, there’s a training plan for you.

Best of all, the training plan builder customizes your training plan based on your schedule. All you need to do is tell the training plan what days you can work out and for how long on each of those days. The training plan builder creates a training plan that is tailored to your level, goals, and schedule. It’s up to you to put in the work! 

Check out the latest features in the adidas Running and Training apps!

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Answers to Your Most Common Questions About Workout Scheduling

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