I get asked quite often about the frequency one should workout. My answer is usually “it depends”. Not the definitive answer most people want. But it really does depend on several factors, such as fitness level, goals, and time you are able to commit to your workout. It also depends on the type of exercise you are engaging in.
If you are new to weight training, you may want to do your strength workout 2 to 3 times per week with 1 to 2 days of cardio. Once you become stronger and more comfortable with the weights, you can add 1 to 2 more days of strength training.
If you are more advanced, you can do 4 to 6 days of strength training, with 2 to 3 cardio workouts each week.
The reasons you workout out will also determine how often you should workout.
If you are looking for weight loss, you’ll want to strength train at least 3 days per week. This would be the minimum to see any body composition changes. If you are a beginner, you can start with 2 strength training days per week, but try to increase that as you gain strength and experience. You can always do more than the 3 days if you are so inclined or are more advanced. As far as cardio goes, 2 to 3 times per week is fine.
If you are training for sports or bodybuilding, you are going to want to train more often, and usually will have a coach or trainer to help you.
If you are simply looking to get moving and improve your overall strength and health, I would suggest you strength train at least 3 days per week, with 2 to 3 days of cardio.
Of course, the time you have to commit to training will play a part in how often you should workout. As a mother, I know how hard it can be to fit anything in when raising kids. However, workouts don’t need to be one hour in length. You can try to fit in 20-30 minutes of training. Those “mini” sessions do count. If doing the mini session, make sure it’s strength based.
TYPES OF EXERCISE
The type of exercise you are engaging in will affect how often you should workout. For example, if you are doing a high intensity type of workout, such as CrossFit or a bootcamp, you may want to keep that to 2 to 3 days per week, while working on general strength, as well as joint mobility and stability a couple days each week. Solely performing high intensity workouts can lead to burn out and injury, so ample rest, as well as joint mobility and stability can help reduce that injury risk.
If you are engaging in cardio group classes, try to keep those to 2 days each week, and add in 2 to 3 days of strength training.
Even though the frequency of your workouts depends on several factors, some things are constant.
Weight training will always trump cardio, no matter if you are beginner or advanced, looking for weight loss or general health, or training for sports. Weight training builds the muscle necessary for body composition change, improves metabolic rate, helps strengthen bones, reduces injury risk, and creates a strong body to get us through all stages of life. Cardio does have a place, but the benefits of strength training are greater than only doing cardio.
You also should move daily. Our bodies are built to move. Not every movement needs to be workout type movement. Walks are fantastic for clearing your brain, getting the blood flowing, and working your heart. Yoga is another form of movement that helps not only your body, but your brain, and is a great recovery tool after workouts or on off days.
Don’t forget about consistency. To see changes and meet your goals, you need to be consistent in your workouts. That doesn’t mean you need to be performing at 100% each workout session. Sometimes you only have 60% to give, and that’s ok. Or maybe you can only do a 20 minute workout instead of an hour. The important thing is that you showed up and gave it what you could for that day.
I hope this answers the question of workout frequency. 🙂