If you’re wondering how many days a week should you workout, you’re far from alone. Whether you’re starting workouts for the first time, or it’s been a while since you’ve done any serious training, it’s a legitimate question – and one that will take some serious consideration. After all, the last thing you’ll want to do is to risk overuse injuries because you went too hard, too quickly.
There’s really no single answer to the question, “How often should you workout in a week?” Everyone has different fitness levels and goals, so training schedules will differ. Here’s some general information that should help you get a better idea of how many days a week you might want to devote to your workouts. Additionally, you’ll need to get your doctor’s approval and recommendations for the routine that works best for you.
Here’s How Often You Should Work Out Based On Your Goals
First of all, if you’re planning to commit to a regular workout routine, congratulations. You’re taking a huge step toward supporting your overall health. At the same time, though, you definitely don’t want to overdo it. Here are a few tips to help you determine what kind of schedule may work best for your specific situation.
- Your level of fitness – When determining how many days should you workout, the most important consideration is your state of fitness. If you’re not currently in shape, that’s okay – you’re doing something about it. Just don’t plan on hitting the gym every day for an hour right away. Shoot for 75-150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, plus a couple of 20-minute training sessions to help build strength.
- The type of workouts – The amount of time you work out depends on the difficulty of your workout. You might not be able to run at full speed for 30 minutes on a treadmill, but you could probably handle a brisk 30-minute walk. The higher the intensity, the shorter your workout should be.
- Changing things up – One of the best ways to avoid injuries is to switch things up, regardless of how much you exercise. Not only should you change the type of workout (work on cardio one day, then strength the next, then switch back), but also the duration and intensity.1
What Can You Do To Make Exercising A Habit?
If you’re like most people, there might be times you just don’t feel like working out. But the more you turn working out into a habit – one that you will, hopefully, enjoy – the better the chances you’ll stick with your program. These tips might help.
- Start small – If you’re just starting a workout routine, you might not be motivated to hit the gym to dive into that 75-150 minutes of physical activity. Try exercising for about five minutes a day if you fall into this category – maybe just do some push-ups or crunches while you’re watching TV. Anything you can do will be better than nothing at all, and it could help you gradually increase your workout times.
- Set firm fitness goals – If you set goals, you may be more likely to keep exercising. Keep those goals manageable. Instead of setting a goal of 15,000 steps every day, aim for 8,000 or 9,000 at first. You’ll get more gratification because you’ll be able to hit that mark, and it might motivate you to set higher goals.
- Be flexible – Don’t try to set a rigid schedule at first. Things happen, and you might not be able to make it to the gym every day. But even if you can’t get a full workout in, try walking or jogging around your block — or walk up and down your stairs for a few minutes.2
Is It Possible To Work Out Too Much?
The answer to this is a definite “yes,” especially if you haven’t exercised in a long time. More is definitely not better. Exercising is great for your health, but you don’t want to overdo it. Allot plenty of time for adequate rest and recovery. Working out breaks down the fibers in your muscles. Recovery allows your body to rebuild those fibers, strengthening them in the process.3
Here are a few other reasons why overdoing it is a bad idea:
- If you keep working out and don’t get enough rest in between sessions, that interferes with your recovery – it also makes it harder for your body to get stronger. All you’ll be doing is putting your body under more and more stress, day after day.
- You might start to backslide when it comes to your fitness. If you’re working out too much, your muscles don’t get the chance to recover; that may make them weaker. You might not realize it, but your muscles actually gain strength after your workout – not during.
- Working out too much may actually detail your weight loss goals. This goes back to exposing your body to constant stress (i.e. working out too much, too often). When this happens, your body produces more of a hormone known as cortisol – known as the “stress hormone” because it’s your body’s way of dealing with stress. Too much cortisol can affect your metabolism, ultimately leading to weight gain.4
Why Rest Days Are So Important
So, now that you know working out too often is a bad thing for your muscles, hopefully you’ll give yourself some rest days between training sessions. If you’re still not convinced, think about your immune system.
Turns out, overzealous workout programs may affect your body’s immune system. And a healthy immune system may help you avoid getting sick.5
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to completely stay inactive on your rest days. Instead of sprinting on a treadmill, you could just take a nice, easy jog or a brisk walk around the neighborhood. You could also do a little yoga. Light activity on your days off helps support circulation, which could make it a lot easier when you go back to the gym – you might not be as sore.6
How Long Does It Take To See Results From The Gym?
Don’t think that after a week into a workout program you’re going to start seeing big results. But if you stay at it consistently, it won’t be long until you start seeing the benefits of all that hard work.
If you haven’t worked out in a long time, and you start a strength training program, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be able to lift 10 percent more in as little as a month. You might see this kind of increase with each successive month after that.7
You’ll also notice differences from an aerobic perspective after just a few weeks. You’ll see that you’re not breathing as hard when you go up a flight of stairs, or after you take a jog.8
Good Luck, And Remember To Start Slowly
Working out can help deliver amazing potential benefits for adults and younger people alike. But if you’re just starting out, talk to a doctor first about your workout plans. Once you get the okay, take it slowly at first, gradually building up the intensity.