Whether you've got your eye on a half-marathon or a Tough Mudder, chances are you don't have tons of time to spend in the gym. (Who does?) So it’s crucial that you make the most of every minute you can spare.
That's why we turned to Ippolita Di Paola, a personal trainer and coach at EPIC Hybrid Training in New York City, to get some specifics on how to customize your sweat sched. (You know, so you can crush it all the way to the finish line.)
The training program below is all about harnessing your strength and power for extended periods of time, rather than short intervals, says Di Paola. So instead of going HAM on HIIT workouts, you’ll train for longer periods at a lower exertion. “That way, when your competitors start to burn out, you’ll be able to dig deep to a place of mind-over-matter and power through,” says Di Paola. (Want to get in shape, fast? Check out Women's Health's Ignite routine created by Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger.)
Gear up for a hella-good week ahead. Squeeze in some stretching and foam rolling, and hit up the grocery store so you can meal prep like a champ.
MONDAY: High-Intensity Long Interval Workout
Rather than working at a level nine or 10 on an intensity scale of one to 10, drop down to a seven or eight so you can last a little longer. If you're doing an interval workout like this one, Di Paola recommends doing circuits for 90 seconds before allowing yourself a 20-second recovery time. “Pushing for that long, rather than for 20 seconds like you do in Tabata, tests your strength, skill, and resilience in a different way,” she says.
TUESDAY: Moderate-Intensity Long Interval Workout
Now, drop down to a five or six on that scale of 1 to 10, and work in cardio to help get your heart rate up. “The idea is to focus on a longer workout, with some rest in between, so you have to bring down the intensity in order to keep going,” says Di Paola. Hop on a rowing machine and do eight rounds of 750 meters, or four rounds of 1500 meters, with one to two minutes of rest in between.
WEDNESDAY: Low-Intensity Extended Cardio
It’s super important for you to spend a lot of time on your feet if you want to increase endurance, says Di Paola. (Think: A long run at a steady intensity.) Aim to exercise for 75 minutes or more, she says, but make sure you’re taking in fuel, like an energy gel. “When you work out for more than an hour, if you don’t take in anything, your body will start burning muscle because it already went through its fat,” says Di Paola. “You want to give your body some carbs and sugar to burn, instead.”
THURSDAY: Restorative Mobility
Focus on 15 to 30 minutes of alignment, posture, and balance movements, especially in areas where you know you’re weak. (Try this 15-minute workout that'll leave you chill AF.) “If your hips always bother you, do hip work for 15 to 30 minutes, and that can be enough on a busy day,” says Di Paola.
FRIDAY: Moderate-Intensity Long Interval Workout
You can structure this similarly to Tuesday’s workout, but mix up which muscle groups you’re targeting. Di Paola likes doing stair intervals. “Run up stairs for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 to 15,” she says. “Repeat for eight rounds, and complete four sets total.”
SATURDAY: High-Intensity AMRAP Workout
Push your mental limits by performing as many reps as possible (AMRAP) in a specified amount of time, which Di Paola says will help you power through when you start to think about giving up. She suggests setting 45 to 60 minutes on the clock, then doing a wide variety of exercises—both with equipment and bodyweight only—completing as many reps as you can, and resting when needed. (Start with these 19 bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.) Keep track of how you do on each exercise, then try the same workout again in two weeks to see how you’ve progressed.