The Weekend Warrior: 5 Classic Weekend Workouts to Maintain Your Fitness Strategy

(U.S. Army/Sgt. Hannah Cowsert)

Finding time for fitness during the busiest days of the week can seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially with long commutes, shift work and the other myriad commitments we typically have during the week. Between work, school and family obligations, along with other everyday responsibilities, your schedule is likely filled to the max, and squeezing in some form of exercise can be logistically tough. 

But fear not; the "Weekend Warrior" strategy is here to help you make the most of those weekends to keep you on your fitness journey. You can maximize weekend workouts with targeted, high-energy training time designed to counterbalance the inactivity of your busiest workweeks. 

On weekdays, it's easy to let rest days take precedence if your schedule is particularly demanding. Doing so allows your body to recuperate, requiring minimal physical activity such as walking and stretching, mainly for stress relief and maintenance. This paves the way for more extended and effective workouts when the weekend arrives. These longer sessions allow you to reintroduce regularity and vigor into your fitness program with time for multiple options.

The essence of the Weekend Warrior strategy is simple. If you had a high-stress workweek, focus on de-stressing the first night of the weekend, Friday evening, with something easy, low impact, and low intensity. Each weekday evening can be reserved for down-regulating activities such as breathing, stretching or mobility work to fight off the long work hours of sitting for long periods or buzzing around on your feet. 

Leverage your time on weekends to compensate for what you couldn't achieve during the workweek. It is up to you how you arrange the weekend. You may even include activities that make exercise feel less like a chore, ones that are more enjoyable and social.

Here are some classic weekend workouts to help you maintain your fitness levels, even when your weekday routine is disrupted:

1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Short bursts of intense activity, followed by brief recovery periods, can maximize your workout in a shorter time. Add in higher-intensity lifting, calisthenics and fast cardio with an upper- and lower-body split routine for Saturday and Sunday. You can then use the week to recover from the physical efforts. 

If you are short on time, this is a quick way to get things done, but it is recommended to both warm up and cool down with something easier, such as jogging, biking or other cardio at an easy pace.

2. Hiking, Rucking or Trail Running

Embrace the great outdoors to combine cardiovascular benefits with enjoying nature's beauty. Get out in nature and enjoy the fresh air and outdoor activity that significantly affects cardio endurance, balance and stability. 

Getting some Zone 2 training is great for aerobic base training. From mental health to various physical benefits, hiking in nature can be life-changing, especially if you find yourself in a cubicle for most of the week. See this National Park Service article on the benefits of hiking.

(U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Kedrick Schumacher)

3. Swimming or Biking

These activities take longer and are ideal for the weekend. Swimming and biking are excellent workouts that are easy on the joints and incredibly refreshing. These are also great workouts when you need some "me" time to get away from people for an hour or so. The nonimpact benefits of these options are therapeutic and can help you maintain your cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone.

4. Group Classes

Join a local boot camp, yoga or spin class to add a social element to your exercise. Saturday mornings are perfect for making fitness fun with group activities that are both effective and social.

5. Sports

To have fun while working out, try competing with a team or friends in recreational sports such as tennis, basketball or soccer. These are effective exercise methods and social activities that can also be therapeutic. See related articles or studies on recreational sports' physical and mental health benefits.

If your weekdays are jam-packed, reserve some of your weekend time for fitness to make substantial progress in enhancing your fitness levels. Consider designating weekdays for easier activities such as walking, breathing and stretching. This will allow you to de-stress during the week and to focus energy on more intense, effective workouts during weekends.

Choose weekend workouts that are intense, yet enjoyable to keep motivation high without making fitness feel like a chore. If you get creative, adopting the Weekend Warrior strategy transforms your weekends into dedicated periods of physical, stress-busting fun. This method ensures you remain active and fit, even when your weekday commitments leave you little time for an extensive exercise routine.

So, next time the weekend rolls around, seize the opportunity. Your body and mind will thank you, and you will be on the path to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. However, finding time to add stress-relieving workouts during the week will have to grow from the Weekend Warrior mindset if you want lasting and more effective health and wellness.

Take charge of your weekend exercise routines with proven strategies tailored for busy professionals. Explore the Military Fitness section on to discover more ideas, tips and insights for creating your workout plans.

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