Hi Hayley,
For the last several years my main workout has been commuting by bike to work (20+ km round trip), with outdoor activities like hiking, skate skiing, or road cycling on the weekends. I’ll be working from home from now on, so I won’t have the built-in weekday commute any more. Luckily there’s a gym not far from my home, and I'll have about an hour in the mornings 5x per week. I’m looking forward to focusing on building strength - because most of my activity has been outside it has mostly been cardio. What's your advice for designing a weekly workout plan? 

I’ve never really been much of a gym person, so I’m a bit lost when it comes to figuring out what to do and when. How much cardio vs strength training should I be doing? What about lower-impact activities like yoga? I’ve tested out apps like Nike Training Club and Aaptiv and I find I really like on-demand classes, but I could use some help figuring out what types of workouts to focus on and how often.

Any advice would be so helpful!


Sounds like you have yourself set up for success! An hour in the gym 5 days a week is more than enough. The key thing here is keeping you from becoming bored, which in my experience is one of the main reasons why people stop their fitness programs altogether. You will want to make sure you’re not only keep things exciting for yourself but you also track your progress so you can continue to aspire to new accomplishments.  

Commit to a fitness app that will track your progress, log your workouts, and continue to up the challenge of your workouts. NTC is great for doing that, which will help to hold you accountable. If you are someone who likes competition I would add in some friends who are also as fitness crazy as you are and you can track your workouts together. Maybe making a little bet, like the one who logs the most workouts in a month gets a bottle of wine (or other indulgence) from the other group members.

Make one of your workouts mostly cardio, with 15 or so minutes of core and stretching at the end, and use this cardio workout to track your progress, push you, and help you to stay motivated. Pick your cardio of choice and create a 6 week program for yourself. If you want to continue having biking in your workouts then I would suggest a 45 minute workout on the bike. One of my favorite workouts is as follows.

5 minutes 75% effort
4 minutes 70% effort
4 minutes 80% effort
3 minutes 70% effort
3 minutes 85% effort 
2minutes 70% effort
2 minutes 90% effort
1 minute 70% effort
1 minute as hard as you can go – then work your way back to the top

Do this for 6 weeks and every other week start yourself 1 level higher. Your other 2 gym workouts should be more strength-based, with shorter bursts of intense cardio. For example, pick 3 different 15 minute NTC circuits and between each set, do 5 minutes on the treadmill, either in an incline power walk or a hard run. Or, start with 10 minutes of an easy warmup, to wake yourself up, then do 30 minutes of a full body weight circuit workout then finish with 20 minutes of cardio, increasing your intensity every 3-5 minutes.

As for lower impact workouts, these are a must. I always recommend my clients have at least 1 day a week where they challenge themselves in always that they normally would not. You sound like you like to work hard. You like to sweat and push yourself but perhaps a yoga class may seem like it is too easy for you? Perhaps a waste of a workout? I used to be that person and thought things like Barre, Pilates, and Yoga were easy and I didn’t have time for them. Was I ever wrong! Nothing kicks my butt more than 60 minutes on a reformer or my yoga mat. So, if you can take a morning a week and dedicate it to a hot yoga class or Lagree class, your body and mind will thank you.

Keep checking in with your fitness program, and yourself, to make sure things are not becoming monotonous. You should be excited to go to your workouts so if you are consistently pressing snooze in the morning something needs to change.