A very common question: How many days a week should I workout? Recently we covered the optimal amount of time you should spend in the gym each time you go workout. Now I would like to address exactly how many days per week you should be working out.
With as busy as the world is today, going three days per week of intense strength training is optimal for fitting into the average persons schedule. With having to juggle work, family, school, social time, and everything else that life throws at you, I have found that most people can comfortably fit three days of working out into their schedule.
Three days is also enough time to give your body the recovery that it needs for optimal results. Because many of us are so sleep deprived and stressed from our daily lives, it makes it harder to recover than someone who gets great sleep and has little stress. Having that day off in between workouts will ensure that your body is fully recovered before going into your next workout.
Aside from strength training 3 days per week, I also always recommend at least one (preferably two) high intensity cardio sessions each week. Preferably these are to be done on none strength training days, but if there is no way to squeeze another workout day into your week, you can get by adding them after your strength training workouts.
If you do add them to your strength training days, do it 10-15 minutes after your session or perform them 4-6 hours later in the day.
The great thing about these high intensity sprint workouts is that they can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. I always recommend keeping them right around 20 minutes, but I want to point out that it doesn’t take much time to get the benefits and results they bring.
I Want More!
Some may be reading this and saying to themselves, “three days a week isn’t that much at all.” And you know what? I agree with you. That is why that is the minimum of what I tell my clients to workout. It is what fits best into most peoples schedule and allows for great recovery.
With that said however, being a former athlete I used to workout every single day of the week. There were no days off (or very few), and my body adjusted to that. Our body is unbelievable at adapting to what we throw at it and it can handle much more than we give it credit for.
Most of the time when we feel run down it is largely due to outside factors: our diet, stress levels, lack of sleep, etc. Now yes, I do understand the concept of over training as I have experienced this before. But this did not come into play until after four years of college (and you know I wasn’t sleeping much in college, who does?).
I was also workout out 2-3 times per day during those years (usually one weight training session and then a few basketball workouts). My body adjusted to it and was able to adapt for a certain period of time. Now I am not saying you should workout 7 days a week. Please don’t misinterpret that. What I want you to be aware of is that your body can handle more than you think when you treat it properly (getting enough sleep, eating right, keeping stress low, etc.)
If you are looking to workout more than three days per week, by all means do it. You can workout 4-6 times per week and see great results (I always recommend having at least one day off each week).
If you do decide to workout 4-6 times per week, you do need to be more mindful that you don’t absolutely kill yourself in the gym each day you go in. For example if you are doing crazy heavy lifting sessions or 5000 rep workouts every time you go into the gym, you may run into some problems.
When training more frequently, your body will adjust and adapt making you stronger and less likely to get injured. This being said of course assuming that you are taking care of your body by eating correctly and getting an ample amount of sleep.
When training more frequently, you should still give your body parts at least a days rest in between workout sessions. For example, you should not train your legs on back to back days. Instead, try training them on Monday and Thursday so they have a chance to recover.
If you get into the habit of training more, your body will adjust and adapt. Be sure to build up to this point!
Beginners and those that are crunched for time should start with doing three strength training workouts each week, focusing on working the whole body. You should then incorporate 1-2 high intensity cardio days (sprints) either on non lifting days or after your strength training workout.
If you do have more time and are a bit more advanced, you can easily incorporate 4-6 days of strength training in each week and see great results. Be sure you are eating correctly and allowing your body good amounts of rest. Once again, if you are just starting out work your way up to going 4-6 days per week. Start with three and build up from there.
Finally, everyone reading this should stay as active as possible. This simply means going for walks, playing with your kids, going on a hike, playing football in the park, etc. All of these activities will only benefit you!
Questions or Comments?
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