STEP 4: Choose Your Mode of Exercise
You can use this plan to create a cardio- or weight-only routine, or a combined program that incorporates both. If you choose the combo, designate a percentage of your base exercise time to each.
In general, I'd recommend two-thirds of all training be devoted to weights and one-third to cardio. So if you have three training days available per week, you could lift weights on two of the days and perform cardio on one, or simply do both weights and cardio on all three days, using the appropriate amount of time for each. In addition, you should always include a warm-up. To keep it simple, just jog or cycle for five minutes at an easy pace, but don't forget to account for the time. Before you move on to the next step, here are some guidelines to follow when creating your workouts.
If you'll be lifting weights:
Perform a full-body workout a minimum of two days per week -- three is ideal—and avoid lifting on back-to-back days.
For each workout, pair an upper- and lower-body exercise, and perform them as alternating sets, resting 30 seconds between each. So do one set of the upper-body exercise, rest, and then do one set of the lower-body exercise. Repeat until you complete all the planned sets of each. Then move on to another pair of exercises.
Emphasize exercises that work as much muscle as possible each repetition. The best lower-body choices: any version of squats, deadlifts, lunges, or stepups. The best for your upper body: any type of press (bench, incline, shoulder), row, or chinup.
Vary your repetitions each workout by alternating between 6-8 reps and 12-15 reps each session.
If you'll be doing cardio:
Perform cardio after lifting.
You can do either continuous cardio or intervals.
If you do continuous cardio, simply try to run farther (on the road or treadmill) or burn more calories (on stationary bikes and rowing machines) in the same time each session. Even though you won't be running longer (since you don't have the time), your workouts will challenge your body a little bit more each session.
If you do intervals, include a five-minute cool-down in your cardio time allotment. For the actual workout, run (or cycle) at the top speed you can maintain from start to finish for one minute, then slow to an easy pace for one minute. That's one round. Do as many rounds as you can, then cool down.