Putting a Rotation Together (This information is from Kirsten - a FIRM Master Instructor)
Part 1: How many days to workout versus how many days to rest. In order to come up with your workout plan, you need to decide how many days you want to workout, and how many days in a row you want to workout.
In really general terms, you can define your level of fitness by how frequently you feel that you can workout without feeling worn down. The more often you feel that you can workout, the more fit you are. 1) I say generally because you might feel like you can workout every day, but you should always factor in some rest. 2) Also, depending on what is going on in your life, you might feel very fit but not have time for frequent workouts. 3) Another factor is the length of time you workout. Some people have an easier time working out 5 days a week for 30 minutes, rather than 3 days a week for 50 minutes. But in the end, it's about the same fitness level if you look at the total time spent working out. (This is something to keep in mind if the featured rotation calendar has you working out more days that you are used to. You might be able to up your frequency if you sub our shorter workouts!)
So, consider your level of fitness and decide how many days you want to workout, how many days before you rest, and about how long you want the workouts to be. A good rule of thumb is to try to factor in a little extra work here and there to improve your fitness level. 1) So, if you normally work out 3 days per week, try 4. 2) If you normally workout 2 days in a row and then rest, try 3 days in a row once or twice during the month. 3) If you tend to pick out the 30 minute workouts more than others, plan a few 45-55 minute ones, especially right after a day of rest, when you feel most refreshed.
What I do is plot out the calendar and plug in my rest days first. Factor in your personal or professional calendar as well. 1) If you know it will be tough to workout one weekend, plan a long rest then. 2) If you have a big project coming up, it might help to plan frequent short workouts right up until the project is complete to energize you and ease the stress. Then rest the day it's done to celebrate!
We generally like to give you a little push with our rotations, but you can always modify the plan by adding rest days. The best thing to do is to keep following the workout categories in order, just adding more rest days in between them. Or, you can choose to shorten the workouts. or.
Of course, you can do the opposite and add if the rotation isn't challenging enough for you--make the workout longer or do some light cardio activity on a rest day if there are more then you usually take--just make sure you rest at least one day!!
Putting a Rotation Together: Part 2 How many of each type of workout should you plan.
So, once you know how many workouts you will do in a week, you need to figure out which type of workouts you want to include each week, and how many of each.
Generally speaking, if weight loss is your current goal, then you should strive to focus on total body workouts only, rather than just the lower or just the upper (unless you're doing the Jiggle Frees, which you could combine on one day, or you could do Buns one day and Arms the next and think of that as one total body workout). To lose weight, even if you want to lose more in your hips or waist than your arms or chest, you want to burn a lot of calories and you want to increase your total body muscle mass in order to increase your metabolism, so focusing on just one area of the body is counterproductive. (However, you can add focused work to a total body workout routine as a supplement, like additional abs or floor work.)
On the other hand, if you are close to your goal weight and you know you want to achieve greater definition or size in a certain part of your body (believe it or not, you can want something to be bigger in order to balance out your body, like Stephanie said in the first infomercial, shaping the shoulders to give you the appearance of a waist), then you want to plan at least one day of focused sculpting for that area. You can add some light cardio to that day as well, after the sculpting to increase the calorie burn for that day.
Still, how many cardio+sculpt, sculpt, and cardio should you do?
Cardio+sculpt should be your primary workout. You should do as many as or more than any other type of workout. If you are working out 5 days in a week, I recommend 2-3 be cardio+sculpt. You can treat them more like a cardio and plug them in after a heavy sculpting day or you can start off your workout cycle with one, going heavy and pushing yourself hard to really kickstart your muscles and follow up with a cardio day.
Next, decide which you need more of, sculpting or cardio. Don't assume that because you want to burn calories and lose weight that you should do more cardio. You might in fact be better off focusing on sculpting more. It depends on many factors, like your fitness level, your fitness goals, your body composition, your genes, etc. But again, if you are working out 5 days per week, I would recommend that 1-2 are sculpt and 1-2 are cardio. Try alternating weeks or cycles; so one week or cycle, try 2c+s, 2s and 1c. The next week, try 2c+s, 2c, 1s. And finally, you can try, 3c+s, 1c, 1s.
Lastly as mentioned before, you can supplement with some focused sculpting. You can add abs or floor work or upper body for example. And then follow it with a cardio workout. If you do this, decide how many days you want to workout and then how many different workouts you want to do. So let's say you know you want to do an extra upper body workout. I would do 2c+s, 2c, 2s but only workout 5 days, like this:
Day 1 c+s Day 2 s (upper body) and c Day 3 c+s Day 4 c Day 5 s
OK, our next part will be how to figure out where to put the rest days and how to sequence the c+s, c, and s.
Part 3 In what order should you do your workouts and incorporate your rest days?
You've got the rest days plotted, or at least know how many you need per week. And you've figured out how many cardio+sculpt, sculpt, and cardio workouts you want to do each week. So the next step is figuring out how to organize the workouts and the rest.
Some of you may know exactly which days each week that you must rest, regardless of how you will sequence your workouts. In a certain sense, you have it easier because you have fewer options! Others of you can sequence it any way you like, plotting your rest days wherever it is convenient for you.
Some general rules (well, I don't want to say "rule" really when there is always an exception)... general guidelines to follow:
1) Try to alternate as much as possible heavy sculpting days with either rest or cardio days. For example: sculpt/ cardio/ cardio+sculpt/ rest; cardio+sculpt/ cardio/ rest. Ideally, you want to give your muscles a break from the weights in order to recuperate.
2) If you must, for whatever reason, do two days in a row of sculpting, be it sculpt/ cardio+sculpt or vice versa, try to focus on one area of the body and let the others rest. You can do this either by doing a lower body only workout one day and an upper the next, or doing at least one total body workout but taking it easy on either the upper or lower body.
3) Follow a heavy total body lifting day, whether it is cardio+sculpt or sculpt, with a day of cardio before resting. It just feels good to get the blood pumping again when you are sore. It seems to help me with stiffness too. But this is not a hard and fast rule, especially if you are doing focused workouts, like a day of heavy upper body. It might not feel like much help to do cardio the next day. And if it just so happens that you have to take a rest day after a heavy sculpting day, then try to do some stretching after you've taken a hot shower, when your body is warm, to alleviate the stiffness. Or take a brisk walk, and then stretch. Yes, you want to rest on your rest days, but walking or some activity that is a "normal" function of daily activity is A-OK. Remember that we were designed to be active, not inactive. The key is that with weight lifting (sculpting), the goal is to "overload" the muscles, so you've got to let them repair and you don't want to fatigue yourself by trying to run a marathon every day. BUT, you CAN MOVE as much as you like!
4) Add a little cardio after a sculpt workout, on the sculpt workout day. If you're wanting to increase your cardio but only have a few days in the week to workout, do two in one day--pick the shorter ones. I recommend you always do the sculpt first. Your body will use up the glycogen in your blood for the weight lifting so that by the time you do the cardio, you'll get into a fat-burning "zone" quicker--making it ideal to do a short cardio workout.
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