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What kind of workout should I do? Should I add weights to my workout routine? Am I supposed to do yoga two times per week?

As a diet and fitness expert, I often get asked these questions. The catch is – every person is different. Your fitness goals and interests are unique. But, ideally, working out at moderate to intense pace for more than 30 minutes at least five times per week is recommended. Based on this, it is suggested to do at least two days of strength exercises, two days of cardio, and one day of mobility exercise.

Workout Routines: Strength, Cardio, and Mobility

Strength: There are several ways to incorporate strength training into your routine. You can perform constant resistance training with the use of dumbbells, medicine balls, or even your own body weight. Try varying the resistance with the use of elastic tubing or resistance bands. With either of these methods, there is a progression by varying reps, sets, weight, rest period, and the type of exercise.

Functional exercises, which include squats, pull-ups, pushups, lunges, and rotations, are great to include in your strength routine. These workout regimens also have evolved to include kettlebells and TRX. It is important to note that when training with heavier weights, proper recovery and workouts focusing on alternate muscle groups or aerobic systems are recommended.

Cardio: On a very basic level, cardio routines are activities that raise your heart rate to a level that you are working but could maintain a light conversation. They are traditionally designed to use fat as fuel and to increase your lung capacity and endurance stamina.

Cardio workouts could include any of the following: indoor cycling classes, running, walking, rebounding, jump roping, stepper, jumping jacks, and burpees.

Mobility: In order to perform the aforementioned exercises, you need to have a good range of motion. Whether or not you feel flexible, your body will adapt to increasing range of motion over time with the incorporation of mobility-focused movement, stretching and foam rolling.

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique to inhibit overactive muscles. If you are able to foam roll after strength or cardio routines, that is a great way to ‘cool down.’ Key muscle groups to focus on including the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings. The goal is to ultimately perform better by preventing injury and increasing blood flow and muscle mobility.

Here’s a sample weekly workout:

Monday: Cardio for 30 to 45 minutes. (If running, try to add a few sprint intervals at 1 to 2 minutes long. If walking, add a few run intervals at 1 to 2 minutes long.)
Tuesday: Strength for 35 to 45 minutes. (Conditioning class, TRX, kettlebells, basic functional movements with a weighted resistance of choice.)
Wednesday: Rest.
Thursday: Cardio for 30 to 45 minutes.
Friday: Mobility for 45 minutes. (Yoga class, Mat Pilates class, stretch-focused class or DVD.)
Saturday: Strength for 35 to 45 minutes.
Sunday: Rest.

The goal is to find a routine that works for you based on your own goals and interests. Once you figure that out, putting a system in place is the next step. Remember to have fun while working out!

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Anita Mirchandani, M.S, R.D, C.D.N received a Bachelor of Arts and then a Master of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University, and completed a dietetic internship at New York-Presbyterian hospital in 2011. She is now a practicing registered dietitian and recently co-founded FitMapped, a free ‘GPS for fitness’ concept that helps users find fitness easily and connect with fellow enthusiasts. Follow her @FitNutAnita for interesting updates of fitness and nutrition.