Whether you are a professional athlete seeking to reach optimum performance or you have finally decided to join a gym after a long time of inactivity, the same question arises.
How many times a week should you work out?
If you are someone who has the time and capacity to go every day, should you? If you are serious about losing weight, achieving a more defined body structure, or bulking up, am you missing out if your schedule only allows for 3 days a week of vigorous exercise?
Understandably the most important aspect of a workout is making efficient use of our time. Therefore if we are shooting ourselves in the foot by not going enough or overtraining this is counterproductive.
As you can probably already assume there are some important variables to take into consideration but by the end of this article, you will have a clear idea of how often you need to work out to get the body that you are striving for.
How Many Times a Week Should You Work Out? Determining Factors
To isolate how often you should work out, the most important thing to determine is your current fitness level.
If you are someone who doesn’t have the habit of doing physical exercise and your work doesn’t demand it of you then you will likely see a difference going even once a week.
However, at this point, the focus shouldn’t be on the number of days you are spending working up a sweat but more on the type of exercise you are doing and the load you are exerting on your body.
As a beginner, our bodies respond to exercise well, however, to progressively improve, working our muscles groups 2 times a week is proven to be the most effective. As you develop strength and endurance you can slowly start to introduce heavier loads.
This normally fits well into a schedule where someone goes to the gym 3 times a week allowing time for the all-important cardio.
The problem lies when we start to advance and become an intermediate or advanced level trainer.
This is because at this point you may note that your body isn’t as responsive to the same schedule as before. If this is happening to you is it a sign that you need to clear out your calendar for more gym sessions?
Studies have shown that increasing your volume is key to continued improvement and not frequency.
An advanced lifter who regularly increases his or her volume works their muscle groups twice a week, and most importantly is able to put full effort and intensity into every rep, should be able to see sustained growth.
But taking these factors into account there is good reason to consider increasing the number of days in your workout routine.
Making the Case for More Days at the Gym
Even though you can, squeezing a high-intensity workout into 3 days is not ideal for your body long term.
This is due to both muscle fatigue and the fatigue your central nervous system experiences.
When we go all out with our energy, a plateau can be experienced in our bodies as the central nervous system stops engaging fully in those last few reps compared to when we were at full strength.
This happens to everyone, however, those who tax their central nervous system more will reach failure at times and not even have fully engaged the isolated muscle group they were working. Reaching failure is crucial if we wish to see incremental growth.
So if you were to increase the number of days that you work out and focused fully on split training one or two groups a session, then this will allow for sustained development as rest for your muscles.
One more benefit of increasing how regularly you should work out is the often overlooked improved motivation that can be experienced from going all the time.
If you have gone from someone who never had a regular workout routine to now having one, you no doubt remember how difficult it was over the first few weeks or months to make it consistent.
But even those who are set in their ways of frequently testing their bodies at the gym can not deny that at times it can be a struggle to feel in the mood.
But if you go 6 days a week, then you will develop the momentum to lay to rest that voice in your head telling you to take it easy.
We are at heart creatures of habit and going more regularly will mean your brain becomes hardwired to walking through those gym doors.
Times When You Should Avoid Going Every Day
We would be remiss if we didn’t spend some time talking about overtraining.
Muscle and central nervous system fatigue mean that it is possible to overtrain exercising 3 times a week as much as you can going every single day. So it is vitally important to listen to your body.
If you have no energy or see that you are not achieving much regardless of the increased effort you are putting in, then it may be time to make good use of rest days.
Allowing your body to recover whether it be a few days between your sessions or even giving yourself a week off can give you renewed energies and strength.
Active rest days which include things like walking or pilates are the most beneficial for the body. Check out our excellent pilates classes that will give just the amount of stretch needed to get you ready for your next intense workout.
Another time when it may prove to be counter-productive is if you are a serious lifter focusing solely on strength gains.
The greatest gains can be found not only from less frequent, heavily loaded reps but again rest, which allows time for muscle growth and nervous system recovery.
Consistency Is Key
So how many times a week should you work out?
A beginner who wants to see continued progress can work out just 3 times a week. Just make sure that your muscle groups are being worked hard at least twice a week.
An advanced trainer may see benefits from going more regularly.
Progress of any kind is possible especially if have the right workout plan. To make sure your workout is efficient and time effective, check out our virtual gym membership.
We at Vim Fitness are more than happy to provide you with the guidance needed to reach your goals regardless of how often you work out.