How many times per week should you work out? Depending on who you ask, you could get a lot of different answers. Some High Intensity Training (HIT) proponents might tell you that twice a week or even less is ideal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some individuals, like elite-level athletes, train for hours nearly every day of the week. People get great results using both of these methods – as well as anything and everything in between. So what’s ideal for you?
Most people (although I’m not sure there’s such a thing, because everyone is different) with a 40-50 hour per week job, a family, etc. aren’t going to have more than a few hours a week for exercise in reality. So that pretty much rules out the extreme high-volume, multiple time per day training for most of us mere mortals.
I think doing some sort of activity most if not all days of the week is a great thing for a lot of reasons. I personally just don’t feel right if I don’t get a workout in every day. More than anything, exercise and activity and movement should just be part of your day, every day!
Although there are many, many ways to categorize the types of ‘exercise’ one can do, I’m going to break it down into three different categories for the sake of simplicity (we’re not going to get into sport-specific work here either):
Most every day of the week, you should include some sort of flexibility/mobility work, whether that’s joint mobility, myofacial release, static/dynamic stretching, etc. The specifics of all this I’ll save for another article. Just learn more about all of these modes of flexibility and mobility and do them regularly.
Strength work for most of us and for most goals I believe is best done 3-4 times per week. Less than this is probably not enough; most natural trainees don’t need more than four times per week even to gain a lot of muscle if you have a solid plan and are working at an adequate intensity.
Cardio and/or conditioning work will depend largely on the goals of the individual. Anywhere from two to five times per week could be appropriate – losing body fat will typically require more cardio, gaining mass likely less.
Something else to think about: you probably need to do more of what you don’t like. For example, if you hate to stretch, you likely aren’t doing enough of it. If you really enjoy strength training, you’re probably doing plenty of that in relation to the other categories – you could even cut back a little on your strength work to make time for flexibility and mobility.
Activity on most days of the week is what almost everyone needs to get to their fitness goals, whatever they are. Different goals are going to call for different focuses on different parts – most importantly, get your plan mapped out and get going!