Last Updated on November 20, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
Have your exercise regimes ever fallen flat because you were unsure of how often you should be working out in a week?
Joining a gym and having a workout plan is all well and good, but if you don’t know how often exercise should be done, your results could fall short of maximum potential.
You may feel like you have to be exercising almost continuously to be reaping any sort of benefits. If you’re not sweating, then you’re not working hard enough, right? Well, this is where the confusion comes in.
Regardless of the goal you have in mind, whether it’s to lose weight, for strength training, or to simply increase your stamina, it is important to know how often you should be exercising to ensure you are promoting the desired muscle growth.
We have put together some tips that you can follow so that you can understand how often to exercise to reap the benefits.
How Often Should I Work Out?
If you’re just starting out, then you may want to aim to work out for only two or three days a week so that you’re not causing any damage to your body.
Or maybe just one workout per week consisting of an aerobic exercise is sufficient to get you started on your general health journey.
The last thing you want to do is too much at once and then all of a sudden your body is out of commission for a week.
The main thing to remember is to start slow but to stay consistent. Remember, the goal of any exercise lifestyle is that it needs to be sustainable!
Meaning you have to find a routine, frequency, and intensity that you can commit to long-term.
You should also plan to have variety in your workout plans. Make sure to include a mix of strength training, core work, cardio, and stretching to maximize your progress.
If your goal is to lose weight and get fit then you will need to know how often you need to do your cardio and strength training exercises so that you can see results.
Generally, it is recommended that you should only aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week. However, there are some exercise programs that aim to increase the rate of weight loss.
The rate of exercise you do will either speed up or slow down your weight loss. Ideally, you want to aim to exercise four to five days in a week.
You should aim to work out for 20-30 minutes each of these days to maintain the weight loss, and of course, be conscious of your diet.
When it comes to cardiovascular training, you should aim to do 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio for five days a week.
This totals to around 150 minutes every week.
If you’re someone who prefers a more vigorous workout regime, then try doing 45 minutes for four days a week but increase your intensity level.
This will total to around 180 minutes per week but of a much greater intensity.
To aid with weight loss, you could do a combination of the two. Try two days of moderate cardio and then two days of intense cardio such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
If you’re wanting to focus on strength training then you should work towards doing weight training 3-5 days a week, depending on your goals.
You should also be tracking and exercising specific muscle groups to ensure you are working your muscles properly without overtraining.
Therefore, there are few full-body workouts in this type of workout routine.
Some examples of the exercises that will be most effective include shoulder presses, squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, push-ups, planks, lunges, and lateral raises.
There are plenty of other key exercises to include in strength training, too, so be creative and think heavy weight and core movement to promote strength gains.
To really make the most of these exercises you should try to vary the intensity of the workouts you’re doing.
You can also consider combining HIIT with strength training exercises to ensure you are getting a good variety of workouts in throughout your week.
And even if you are going for strength, you should still make sure to include some type of cardiovascular exercises into your workout routine.
Another important element is rest. What many people don’t understand is that your muscle and strength is absorbed when your muscles aren’t working and when you are at rest.
You should never work out with high intensity every single day.
It is important to allow your body to rest to avoid injury or long-term damage and to allow your strength gains to materialize.
How Often Should I Work Out To Gain Muscle?
It is important to strike a proper balance between strength training and cardio, as this is the best way to gain muscle, especially lean muscle mass. If you do too much of either then you can run the risk of losing the muscle and over-training.
Opposite to this, not increasing the intensity when you should will mean that you’re not gaining as much muscle as you otherwise could.
To realize the best muscle gains, make sure you are working your muscles with very high intensity and heavy weight during almost every session.
Muscle mass is best achieved with high workout intensity with the focus on more weight but with proper form.
However, you should make sure you are keeping a log of the muscles you are working out and the exercises that you have completed, to ensure you are not duplicating your workouts and making sure you are pushing yourself a little harder each time.
Remember, our muscles get used to the stress we place on them and unless we push them past their previous limits, they will not grow beyond their current state.
One of the most feared parts of working out is to encounter the dreaded plateau.
Plateauing is hitting a hitting a phase in your workout regime where you are no longer seeing gains and can no longer increase the weight or intensity of your workouts.
Unfortunately, almost everyone finds themselves plateauing at some point. This happens if you are training the same muscles repeatedly with the same exercises and weights.
To combat this, you will need to mix up your routine frequently and make a goal to try a new exercise every week.
You can also change the number of sets and reps that you’re doing on a regular basis to keep the muscles active and growing.
The most common reason for plateauing is that we all get into the habit of showing up to the gym and doing the same exercises again and again and that we think we need to work out intensely every single day.
Make sure to give your body time to rest between each strength training session. You can damage your muscles rather than increase growth by training every single day in the same way.
If you don’t like the idea of taking a day off then you can try and do gentle exercises like yoga or stretching on your rest days.
How Much Is Too Much?
Is there such a thing as too much exercise? The answer is yes.
Though, it is difficult to say how much is too much, especially when different people can handle a different amount.
If we’re taking a look at doctor recommendations, then we should stick to 150 minutes of physical activity each week and that applies whether your goal is weight loss or building muscle.
However, even if you do 150 minutes, you could still be at risk of over-exercising.
The main thing to take away here is that you should never push yourself too hard. Make sure you take the time to get to know your body and its limits before pushing yourself.
Often when weight loss is the ultimate goal, vigorous physical activity is thought to be needed as part of daily life, however, this could actually cause you to lose muscle and be stressful on your bone health.
If you are aching too much the following day, then you have probably over-exercised and this is where bone and muscle injuries can come into play, so be careful.
The Bottom Line
All in all, you want to aim to do 4-6 days of exercise each week, rotating your exercise approach each day and each week.
Rest days are incredibly important so as to not damage your muscles. While consistency is key, it is important to pace yourself.
The main types of training that should dominate your exercise routine are cardiovascular exercise and strength training. These will play a huge role in both reducing weight as well as increasing muscle. They will also help to improve your stamina and keep you lean and fit.
Setting yourself the right goals will help you determine how often you should exercise as well as when you should be exercising. Make sure to note down all of the exercises you do so that you can keep track of your goals and progress.
We hope that this has helped you understand how often you should be exercising each week, as well as, the kind of exercise you should be doing for your personal goals.