Weekend Workout Routine for Busy People (Expert Tips)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: December 28, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Christiana Mikesch, CPT
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As a certified fitness trainer, I work with clients who spend their weekdays working and with family, leaving them with only the weekend to maximize their weekly exercise load.

Consistency and intensity are essential in the weekend warrior workout program for improved energy levels and health.

As a certified personal trainer, I will provide my expertise on the super-efficient weekend program you can follow to maintain your fitness level.

Quick Summary

  • For busy individuals, a weekend workout routine involves focused, compound exercises targeting both the lower and upper body, efficiently utilizing limited time for maximum fitness benefits.
  • Due to restricted training time during weekends, the article emphasizes the importance of high-intensity workouts to make the most of each session.
  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, weekly training volume is crucial, recommending a minimum of 4 weekly sets per muscle group using a 6–15 RM loading range, with 15–40 repetitions being effective if training to volitional failure.
  • I believe this weekend workout routine is perfect for those with busy weekdays, offering an efficient way to stay fit without compromising other commitments.

Weekend Workout Program Overview

Man doing leg workouts

This workout routine consists of two back-to-back workouts, for lower and upper body. It focuses mainly on compound exercises since they maximize your already restricted training time.

The workout plan aims to increase muscular strength and size, rendering it a powerbuilding regimen.

According to one of the studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, strength training improves muscle strength and hypertrophy while providing several other health advantages, such as enhanced functional abilities, cardiometabolic risk profile, and overall well-being [1].

In my experience, with minimal training frequency and volume, you must hit both exercises hard. That means you'll employ various training strategies to raise the intensity of your workouts.

Weekend Warrior Workout Routine

Woman doing walking lunges

Saturday: Lower Body

Leg workouts engage some of your body's major muscles, the glutes being the largest, which are the basis of your health.

Leg training involves burning more calories, increasing T-levels, increasing heavy lifts, improving mobility, and gaining mass, strength, and power.

Leg workout is the foundation of every good bodybuilding or strength training program.

Working your legs first allows you to make the most of your energy.

This is the most challenging weekend session, another reason to start with legs.

The routine:

  1. 5 sets of 5 repetitions of the paused squat pyramid
  2. 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of the deadlift and Romanian deadlift combo
  3. 3 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 repetitions of leg extension descending ladder
  4. 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of front squat
  5. 3 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 repetitions of leg curl descending ladder
  6. 3 sets of 8 to repetitions of leg press
  7. 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of step-through lunge
  8. 3 sets of 12 repetitions of back squat
  9. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of the explosive calf raise
  10. 3 sets of tiptoe farmers walk until failure

Sunday: Upper Body

Doing bench press

This workout strengthens your upper back, arms, chest, and shoulders.

That's a lot of muscle groups to squeeze into one session, but that's the nature of the game when your workout schedule is limited to two primary workouts each week.

Work as intensely as possible; this minimal exercise volume will benefit you.

The routine: 

  1. 5 sets of 5 repetitions of paused bench press pyramid
  2. 3 sets of 12 repetitions of the cable crossover
  3. 3 sets of plyo, kneeling, and regular push-up combo (as many reps as possible)
  4. 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions of weighted chin-up
  5. 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of chest-supported dumbbell row
  6. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of dumbbell pullover
  7. 3 sets of 12 repetitions of the Cuban press
  8. 3 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 repetitions of barbell curl descending ladder
  9. 3 sets of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 repetitions of triceps pushdown descending ladder

Weekend Warriors Workout Extras

Kettlebell squats

If you can spare 10-20 minutes once a week to practice these quick mini bodyweight burner sessions, you will be even fitter.

According to one of the articles and studies from the WebMD website, 10 to 20 minutes of workout will help you increase metabolism and mobility while also getting the blood flowing to the recuperating muscles from the weekend [2].

I suggest doing these brief exercises on Wednesday for optimum recovery from the weekend sessions.

This quick bodyweight workout may be done anywhere and in only 10-20 minutes to eliminate rationalizations.

The workouts:

1. Burner Workout

Without rest, do 10 to 12 repetitions of each workout with proper form (and both sides if necessary).

After the round of 5 exercises, rest for 1 minute before repeating the circuit for 10 minutes or four times for a whole body circuit of 20 minutes.

  1. T-rotation push-ups
  2. Side-to-side skater strides
  3. Prisoner squats
  4. Reverse lunges or (more advanced) forward lunges, both sides
  5. Burpees

2. 30/30 Jump Rope Intervals and Tabata Planks

Woman using jump ropes

After two to three minutes of moderate jump rope, set the timer for 30 seconds of exercising and 30 seconds of relaxation.

Jump rope as quickly as possible for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds before repeating five times for five minutes.

After a brief rest, set the clock for 20 seconds of training and 10 seconds of rest.

Ensure to contract the abs as hard as possible so they are fatigued throughout the indicated time range, and induce muscle soreness.

Perform the following:

  • 20 seconds left side plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds front plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds right side plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds front plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds left side plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds front plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds right side plank, 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds front plank

3. Tabata Jump Rope and Five-minute Abs

Set the clock for 20 seconds of exercising and 10 seconds of relaxation after a few minutes of easy jump rope.

Jump rope as quickly as possible for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before repeating eight times for four minutes.

After a brief rest, select 3-5 different abdominal exercises and perform 10 reps or 30 seconds each for five minutes.

Examples of abs workouts:

  • Plank
  • Butt up
  • Russian twist
  • Bicycle crunch

Related: Best Tabata Workouts

Weekend Warrior Workout Routine Tips

Holding a barbell doing deadlifts

Concentrate on Movements Rather Than Muscles

Regardless of your objectives, isolation is not the best idea.

Given that you're only exercising two days a week, it's logical to conclude that you won't get the best results if you're pursuing size since it's infrequent.

"You may reach a certain degree of fitness by training twice weekly. And if these two days have to be jammed into a weekend, then that's exactly what you need to do."

- Wayne Campbell, Doctor of Philosophy & Exercises Physiologist

Making sure you're correctly exercising is great if you want to keep any remaining strength. Plan your workouts to be more of compound lifting. The body will be encouraged to employ large movement patterns such as the standing press, pull-up, deadlift, leg press, bench press, row, squat, and lunge.

They belong in your fitness routine as the "core" motions, around which additional exercises should take second place. Based on my experience, these options can provide you with the greatest bang for your buck. Ensure to carefully place them in the planes of motion they fit in.

Perform More Squats on Leg Day

Barbell overhead squat

According to my tests, you must concentrate more on squatting for both training volume and maximum strength.

It will be critical to assist you in dealing with an axially weighted barbell, which might produce a lot of hormone release that helps muscle group development [3].

The greatest mistake a weekend warrior can make is failing to train the lower body appropriately.

Make Sunday the Most Metabolically Challenging

You should go out with a boom if you don't work out for 5 days after your final session.

It may be as easy as modifying rest periods, workloads, and exercise pairings to tap into an enhanced metabolic demand by altering the training system to a more conditioning-based circuit type.

"If you didn't do any weight training throughout the week, stick to light weights on Saturday and then go heavy on Sunday."

- Gary Hunter, Director of the Exercise Physiology Department at the University of Alabama

The benefit of training in such a way is that it can boost weight loss for up to 38 hours after the activity.

FAQs

Is It Ok to Work Out on Weekends?

Yes, it is ok to work out on weekends. Exercising on the weekends is just as beneficial for your health as working out on the weekdays, as long as you get the same volume of activity.

What Time of Days Is Best to Workout?

The best time of day to work out is early in the morning. Working out on an empty stomach in the morning may help you burn more fat and get more quality sleep at night.

What Workout Should I Do on the Weekend?

Compound workouts are the type of workouts you should do on the weekend. They work many muscle groups simultaneously. Squats, bench presses, pull-ups, chin-ups, deadlifts, and shoulder presses, are good compound exercises.

How Can Mindfulness and Meditation Enhance Weekend Workouts?

Integrating mindfulness and meditation into weekend workouts can help in achieving a deeper mind-body connection, leading to more focused and effective exercise sessions. This practice not only improves physical performance but also contributes to mental well-being and stress reduction.

What Are the Best Weekend Workout Routines for Different Fitness Levels?

For beginners, weekend workouts should focus on basic exercises with moderate intensity. At the same time, advanced individuals can engage in more challenging routines that include high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or strength training. Tailoring workouts to fitness levels ensures both safety and progression in fitness goals.

How Do Weekend Workouts Impact Mental Health?

Engaging in physical activities during the weekend can significantly improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Regular weekend workouts also boost mood and enhance overall mental well-being.

What Nutritional Strategies Should Be Followed Alongside Weekend Workouts?

To complement weekend workouts, it's important to follow a balanced diet rich in proteins for muscle recovery, carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for overall health. Hydration before, during, and after workouts is also crucial, and a post-workout meal or snack can aid in recovery and muscle growth.

How Can Technology Be Integrated into Weekend Workouts for Better Results?

Utilizing fitness apps and wearables can help track progress, set goals, and provide personalized workout recommendations, making weekend workouts more efficient and tailored. Online resources like virtual classes or training videos can also add variety and guidance to the exercise routine.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8449772/
  2. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30531700/
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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