What Is a Good Workout Schedule for Losing Weight & Gaining Muscle?

A good workout schedule for losing weight and gaining muscle is one that suits your capabilities, lifestyle and preferences. You may opt to use a gym and do a combination of cardiovascular and strength-training exercises. Alternatively, you may prefer to combine cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking or running with body-weight exercises performed in the comfort of your home.

Warm-Up

Don't underestimate the importance of starting your workout routine with a thorough warm-up. The American Council on Exercise notes several benefits of warming up. For example, warming up prepares your cardiovascular and muscular systems for more strenuous activity, and increases blood flow to your heart, thus reducing the risk of exercise-induced cardiac abnormalities. Warming up elevates your core temperature and reduces risk of muscular and joint injuries. Warming up increases blood flow and delivery of oxygen to your muscles.

Fat-Burning

Start your gym workout with a fat-burning high-intensity interval training routine on the treadmill. Warm up with a five-minute brisk walk, then sprint for 20 seconds followed by a 60-second brisk walk. Repeat the sprint and brisk walk sequence 10 times for a short cardiovascular routine of approximately 13 minutes. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, high-intensity interval training boosts your metabolism and helps you burn calories up to 24 hours after exercise. If you are new to exercise, lower your intensity by alternating brisk walking with inclined walking --- setting the treadmill on an incline.

Muscle Building

Thoroughly warmed-up from your short, intense cardio workout on the treadmill, you are now ready for your muscle-building routine. Focus primarily on multi-joint exercises that work your major muscle groups. These include exercises such as the bench press or chest press for your chest, and the military press or dumbbell press for your shoulders. Do lat pulldowns or pullups for your upper back, squats or leg presses for your legs and deadlifts for your lower back and trapezius. Supplement these exercises with single-joint exercises such as barbell curls for your biceps, triceps kickbacks for your triceps and calf raises for your calves.

Exercise Protocol

If you are new to exercise, or resuming after a long break, use a weight that allows you to do eight to 12 reps per exercise, recommends the ACSM. Try to gradually increase your workload each time you work out by performing one more rep per exercise, or increasing your weight. Your muscles adapt by getting bigger and stronger. Doing three sets per exercise, work out three days a week, for example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Non-Gym Cardio

Walking is an ideal low-impact gentle activity if you are new to exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you weigh 160 pounds, you can burn 204 calories by walking for an hour at 2 miles per hour. As you get fitter and stronger, the ACE recommends you add brisk intervals. For example, warm up by walking for 10 minutes, then walk faster for a block, and slowly for two blocks. Add more intervals as you get fitter and stronger. Alternatively, after a five-minute warm-up jog, run or sprint for 15 seconds, followed by a 45-second brisk walk. Repeat the sprint and brisk walk sequence 10 to 15 times to burn fat and accelerate weight loss post-exercise.

Body-Weight Exercises

After you are warmed up by your short cardio routine, use body-weight exercises to work your major muscle groups and build muscle. Pushups target your chest, anterior deltoids and triceps. To make the exercise harder and encourage muscle growth, place your feet on an elevated surface, wear a weighted vest or have a training partner place a weight on your back. Keep your knees on the floor if you cannot do full pushups. Rig up a bar in your garage or yard or use a sturdy branch in your garden to perform pullups to build up your upper back and biceps. Do body-weight squats to hit your legs and butt. For added resistance to encourage muscle growth, do goblet squats by holding a dumbbell tight to your chest. Do three sets of as many reps as you can of each exercise.