The 7,200 minutes in a workweek quickly get parceled out as desk time, drive-the-kids-to-school time, meal time, cleaning time, leisure time and, hopefully, sleep. With so many ways to fill your days, putting your workouts off until the end of the week may be the best use of those precious minutes. But the question is: How do you make the most of your weekend warrior workouts?
Research indicates that between 1 and 3% of exercisers only work out on the weekends, with most people citing a lack of time during the workweek as the reason they save their physical activities for Saturday and Sunday. While some hold the “weekend warrior” status with pride, others may feel ashamed that they don’t get out for a run, swim, or dance class during the workweek. But trainers (and research) say they just don’t need to be.
“As we get older, we’re more likely to become weekend warriors,” says Ryne Harshman, an instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp in Denver. “Life happens, and during the week, there are a lot of obligations that require our energy, attention, and time. Oftentimes, the only time we make for ourselves is on the weekends when our time is more likely to be ‘our’ time.”
Studies show that those who bookend their weeks with physical activities have comparable health outcomes to those who get moving during the week—as long as they log the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended 150 minutes of aerobics (like fast walking or swimming) and two days of strength training over the course of seven days.
That said, trainers recommend optimizing those 48 hours of precious workout time so that you reap the maximum movement rewards without overdoing it. Below, Harshman and other trainers offer their best tips for owning that weekend warrior title.
1. Commit to doing what you can do
Many people are busy on Saturday and Sunday, too. Whether you’re catching up with friends for drinks or playing with the kids, it’s easy for Sunday night to sneak up on you. That’s why Harshman recommends having an honest conversation with yourself about how much activity you can reasonably commit to doing. “To make the most of the exercises during the weekend, own your time. Whether it’s 10, 30, or 50 minutes, you own that time, no one else. Pick it wisely, put your phone away, and stay consistent, and results will come,” he says.
2. Opt for a variety of activities rather than a high volume of one activity
Maillard Howell, a well-being coach and owner of DeanCrossfit in Brooklyn, says that some weekend warriors make the mistake of spending all their exercise time doing one activity. After a while, this practice may create imbalances in the body and increase your risk of developing injuries. He recommends assigning one weekend day as a “cardio day” and one day as a “strength day.” That way, you can balance out a long bike ride on your first glorious weekend day with mobility and strength training before Monday comes calling.
3. Get your friends and family involved
“You don’t have to do it alone,” says Harshman. “Work out with a friend or take a fitness class. We achieve more with others than we do with ourselves.” With this mindset, a hike can become an excuse to catch up with someone you love, and lifting weights at the gym can become a time to reconnect with your partner.
4. Practice presence in your workouts
Many of us are so distracted by our social media feeds and email inboxes during the workweek that we have difficulty truly disconnecting on the weekends, but Galya Vidal, an instructor at Barry’s LA, says it’s always worth trying. “Make sure that there are no interruptions so you can be focused on your workout and gain body awareness. This will allow your form to be precise, and you’ll get the best results out of each executed movement,” she explains.
5. Prioritize rest and nutrition during the workweek
You may not be working out Monday through Friday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize your physical and mental well-being in other ways. “I would suggest leaning on other supporting habits like sleep, meditation, and nutrition during the week to help maximize the return on the two active days,” says Howell.
Logging at least eight hours of rest and filling your plate with a mix of proteins, vegetables, fruits, grains, and healthy fats will prepare your body for the fun weekend of movement ahead. Take care of yourself for those 7,200 minutes so that you can unleash your inner-weekend warrior come Saturday morning.