While this is an elemental question, many people struggle to know how often they should be training.
Twice a week?
Five times a week?
What delivers the best results?
It’s understandable to be uncertain, because though the question is simple, the answer depends on a few factors.
It goes without saying that how often you should workout depends on your goals and available time and energy.
Since the people I help are those consumed with full-time jobs, kids to raise, and simply wish to drop some bodyfat and see more muscle tone, my answer will be directed toward that group, rather than the 20-year-old, super-athlete who we envy and hate.
So if you’re a working woman or man, always busy, and energy is scarce, a fitness regimen that has you schlepping to the gym five days a week is DOA.
But without such a serious commitment, can you still make exciting improvements to your physique and fitness level training much less than that?
So long as you consider the next factor…
No surprise, the mode of exercise you select influences how often you can and should train. Running or yoga can be done up to six-days a week, whereas strength training is done much less often.
And if you follow me, you know that my top choice of exercise for everyday people is strength training.
Many reasons exist for that, but the relevant one here is that by lifting heavy iron (that includes you ladies!), you won’t need to train five or six days a week.
Instead, strength training has a typical range of two to four days a week.
But you have to also consider…
We can break the “Fitness Level” category down into three levels. Find which one you belong to, and you will have your answer on how often to (strength) train. Non-training days should still be active with activities like walking, stretching, and mobility, just nothing intense.
A beginner is someone who has not been on a regular workout regimen for many months, or even some years. If that’s you, start by training only two days per week, for roughly 30 to 40 minutes each time (possibly less time if you feel very out of shape.)
I know, I know.
You’ve you just made a major commitment to losing fifteen pounds because you have a wedding, vacation, or a reunion coming up, and you want results STAT!
Trust me, you’re body is not ready to go all out yet. If you ignore this advice, you will be sore and suffering all the time, and may even incur injury by overtraining.
Play it safe, my friend.
Start off twice a week for a period of three to four months until your body has adapted to regular, intense training.
At that point, you can move on to the next phase…
Once you’ve had months of consistent strength training under your belt, along with some solid instruction from a qualified coach, you can ramp it up to three days a week for 30 to 60 minutes each workout.
This is a good amount to settle into for the long-term.
And, honestly, it’s sufficient for many coaches and advanced lifters. You can achieve almost everything you’d want on this frequency of training.
But if you want to level up, and you have least one –preferably two – years of strength training under you belt, you may be ready for…
Here, you would do a program of four (maybe five) days a week. People ramp up to this frequency usually because they are trying to achieve specific outcome like a new, 1-rep max in their military press or preparing or increasing the number of pull-ups they can do.
Even with these goals you’ll want to spend a period of months during the year scaling back to two or three times a week for recovery.
That sums it up! I did not discuss a few exceptions to keep this blog post basic, so if you have questions comment below, or tell me how often you’re training now and whether it’s working for you.