For the first time in a long time, I don’t have a plan.
A workout plan, that is. I just finished training for (and running!) the New York City Marathon, so I’ve been following a prescribed workout schedule for months and have gotten pretty used to it. Part of the reason I love marathon training is because I know exactly what I need to do—my sweat schedule requires very little brainpower. Run four times a week, yoga, and strength training. That’s it. No thinking, just sweating.
Despite the fact that I have a very extensive training background, I’m sort of at a loss as to what to do next. Now that my race is over and I don’t have any real fitness goals (other than to feel healthy and to look good naked, obvi.), what do I do with my life!?! I’m in the midst of having a full-on existential fitness crisis.
Enter Lindsey Clayton. A master trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in NYC and co-founder of Brave Body Project, an online fitness membership site and community where she posts weekly workouts with co-founder Amber Rees, Linds is one of those trainers that just gets it. She understands that not everyone loves working out, acknowledges that sometimes cardio is just too hard-io (and it’s OK to skip a workout once in a while), and Clayton fully condones eating a slice of pizza every now and then.
She’s also one of the fittest, smartest women I know—and a genius at crafting a perfect training schedule. It’s part of why her Brave Body Project clients love her (sign up for the community and you’ll get a uniquely crafted workout plan just for you) and see insane results after following her programming for just a few weeks. “When you find the right workouts and scheduling for your body, you won’t need to work out a million hours a day just to maintain,” says Clayton. “Plan your workouts strategically and you’ll see results and just enjoy your life more!”
I’m a fan of results and enjoyment, so I asked Clayton to share her secret to crafting the perfect workout schedule for a week.
1. Pull out the calendar.
“Take a look at your week and map out when you can get in what I call YOUR BIG 3. These workouts are the cornerstones of your training,” Clayton says. Your Big 3 workouts are the classes or sessions that really “push you outside of your comfort zone.” Bring the pain, right? These three workouts will vary depending on your goals and what’s challenging for you, but they’re your main focus for every week.
While everyone is different, Clayton recommends exercising five or six days a week depending on your work schedule and how your body feels. In addition to the Big 3, Clayton says she needs “a solid day of strength training, a kick ass cardio class, and a restorative stretch or hot yoga class in my weekly regimen or it feels off balance.”
2. Figure out when you need to be pushed and when you can take the wheel.
If you love running but are totally clueless when you step into the weight room, it’s probably more important for you to schedule a resistance training class with a trainer who knows their stuff than to book another cardio class.
“And maybe cardio isn’t your jam and you need to have your fave spin instructor telling you to crank your resistance up more and push harder to get your sweat on. If that’s the case, make sure you book those classes first so you don’t get stuck on a waitlist or even worse, don’t get to take class at all.”
3. Add in the extras for diversity.
Clayton is all about changing up your weekly workouts to keep things interesting—after all, if you’re bored by your workouts, you’re probably not challenged. “Try a new class or trainer to switch things up. This way you won’t get stuck in the same routine and get bored or hit a plateau when it comes to results.”
4. Have a workout buddy to hold you accountable.
It wasn’t until I started going to Electric Flight Crew‘s weekly run workouts that I truly understood how much having a workout buddy (or group!) holds you accountable. And according to Clayton, working out with a friend will “push you harder… and they’ll do wonders for your Instagram sweaty selfie game.” Do it for the Insta, guys.
5. Never do a workout you hate.
“You don’t have to love every second of your workouts (unless you’re a psycho) but you should feel connected and inspired by them and look forward to doing them most of the time,” dishes Clayton. That means if you think barre classes are dumb, you don’t have to sign up for them. Hate spinning? Don’t do it. Not a fan of HIIT training? Go to yoga instead. Do the workouts that make you happy—not miserable. “You get the best results when you can actually connect to your workout.”
Want to skip all the complicated stuff and have Clayton work her magic? Get a free two-week trial to Brave Body Project with the code NEWBRAVE4FREE at checkout. (You can thank us later when you’re showing off your six-pack on Instagram—you’re welcome!)