How I Work Out in a Week (hypertrophy/building muscle on a vegan keto diet)
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I’ve been posting a lot of post-workout meals on instagram lately, and it’s led to some questions about how I work out on a daily basis. So, I thought I’d put together a post here with my usual weekly workout schedule, as well as the macros I shoot for to maintain this. This post is part of a larger theme of fitness and keto posts I have planned for this site, so if you’re interested in this kind of thing! Stay tuned!
Just a note, I am not a doctor or personal trainer and this post is not recommending that you follow my routine. It’s just for informational purposes!
So, quick little story about how I got here: last spring & summer, I wrote a cookbook. It was an incredible experience, but it definitely took a toll. I spent about 9 months writing, cooking, photographing and then in edits with the publisher. The pace was pretty grueling and at a certain point I realized something had to give. That “something” ended up being a social life, sleep and also fitness.
I wasn’t a huge fitness buff at that point, but I was doing daily (light) yoga and either walking, hiking jogging or using a rowing machine a few times a week for cardio. Nothing serious, but it was something. Then, the book came and all of that fell by the wayside, so when 2019 rolled around, I realized I had gotten out of shape. Badly.
So, January of 2019, I committed to a daily yoga practice. This kept me pretty happy until around June, when I realized that I had a huge hike coming up in the mountains, and I didn’t want to be the one to slow the whole thing down, or worse, to not be able to do the whole thing. So, I decided to get serious and implement a workout plan to both build muscle and increase my cardio.
I started with 7 days a week for the first two weeks, just to kick my butt into gear, and then as I increased the intensity of everything to work on building strength and muscle, I added in some rest days. It’s been about 8 weeks of actually working out, so this is what that looks like today:
- Monday: HIIT or yoga/cardio
- Tuesday: HIIT & yoga/cardio
- Wednesday: HIIT & yoga/cardio
- Thursday: REST
- Friday: HIIT or yoga/cardio
- Saturday: HIIT & yoga
- Sunday: REST
It’s not exact, because I try to listen to my body and I also don’t always have time for more than just HIIT, but it’s a pretty solid outline.
Note: on rest days, I still do some light stretching and foam rolling. Sometimes I’ll go on a nice, leisurely walk. Just things to keep everything moving.
My HIIT Routine
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is something that was always intimidating to me, but I’ve really come to love it. It gets my heart rate up, is easily adaptable, and doesn’t get boring because it switches up every 30 seconds. I currently do 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off of any combo of the following for 20 minutes:
- squats (and variations)
- hip thrusts
- mountain climbers (and variations)
- Romanian dead lifts
- bicycles and other random ab things
- jumping things that belong in 80s-90s aerobics videos
- rowing machine (this is just 30s on, 30s off for the whole time)
Usually, to make things easier, I will make up a little plan at the beginning of the workout to do 5 different exercises in 4 rounds and will cycle through them, so as not to get bored and to give muscle groups a quick break between each round.
I get a lot of inspiration from fitness Youtubers, my absolute fave being Natacha Oceane. I highly recommend you give her a follow if you’re a woman interested in workouts to build muscle. She has some great HIIT routines to follow as well.
As for cardio, I tend to just use the rowing machine. I was a rower for many years and have always loved ergging. It’s full body and really provides a great workout. Depending on time/how I feel, my cardio erg workouts tend to be one of the following:
- 5k of moderate intensity or 10k of moderate intensity
- 2.5k, 5k or 10k of “steady state” (50% intensity, more of a chill warm up/active rest day thing)
I will also do power yoga as a cardio workout. I have the DownDog app, which lets you customize a workout. One of the settings is for an “aerobic” session, which really does make you sweat and get that heart rate up. I usually do either 30, 45 or 60 mins of power yoga, again depending on time/how I feel.
And finally, yoga!
As mentioned above, I started a daily yoga practice in January of 2019 and have been keeping that up as well. This doesnt mean I spend 45 minutes on the mat every day though. Some days, I will do 60 mins, other days it’s just 10-15 minutes of restorative yoga at night. This all depends on what other workout I have done, how I feel and how much time I have.
Usually, I use the DownDog app (not sponsored, I just love it), and customize the routine based on what I want to work on/feel like I need. There are some great youtube channels out there, though. Yoga With Adriene was where I started and I highly recommend her to everyone, SaraBeth Yoga is lovely as well!
But, I Don’t Have TIME For All This!
When I started this up, I figured it would just be this many days to get ready for that hike, and then I would taper it back to 2-3 days a week, because the time commitment seemed pretty extreme. Then, I got into the groove and realized a few things:
- I can always find 20 minutes for a HIIT workout (plus 5 for the shower after….)
- 10 minutes of yoga is better than 0 minutes of yoga, so if all I can do is 10 minutes, then so be it
- I spent a lot of time on sites like Reddit and watching things on Youtube/Netflix/Hulu (though usually as background for other activities) – I basically just took 20-60 minutes from this and converted it to exercise time. I’m not as up on meme culture, but am probably better off for it. A lot of us have 20 minutes here or there that could be converted to a workout.
Now, For the Food Part
As I mentioned before, I’m trying to build muscle and I’m not really focusing on weight right now. Because of this, I pretty much just eat to satiation, while sticking within macro goals. This may seem like a ton of food, but keep in mind I’m around 5’10-11 (depending on what nurse measures me).
- Calories: 2200-2500+
- Carbs: 40-50g net
- Protein: ~100g
Like I mentioned before, I just eat to satiation, so some days that’s 2200 calories, some days it’s 3000 calories, but most of the time it’s between 2200-2500. My maintenance prior to this routine was ~2000-2200, so it’s a leap, but not a giant one.
I was eating around 30-40g of net carbs per day, but found that increasing this to 40-50g (sometimes a bit higher) really helped my workouts, so that’s what I’ve been sticking with.
Because I want to make sure my body has enough readily available amino acids to build muscle, repair tissue and keep up with it’s normal functions, I’ve been aiming for around 100g of protein per day.
Fat just fills out the rest of the calories – I don’t set a target, nor do I worry if any of these macros aren’t exact on any given day. It’s not a big deal.
In the past 8 weeks, I have not gained any weight from eating this much (in fact, I actually lost .6lb). I have also lost an inch on my waist and my hips and have way more muscle definition pretty much everywhere, which is super exciting. I feel like this has really given my metabolism a kick in the pants!
I’ll be posting a more detailed “what I eat in a day” post with specifics on timing, as well as the actual foods I eat in a few days, so look for that!