In the modern day, many people take time specifically to exercise and put in a few workouts per week.
From sitting down in offices for hours on end to prohibitive distances for walking, impediments to regular exercise mean we often have to make time to focus on our bodies and our health.
However, it can be hard to figure out just how often we should be working out. Should it be two days per week, or three? All of them?
Most workout schedule recommendations are that you should be aiming to work out three to five days a week.
However, this depends on your overall goals and current fitness level, as well as the intensity you intend to be working out.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the nuances of how often you should be working out and the different workout routines that you can engage in.
We’ll also discuss some things you should be doing in your workouts, breaking it down into cardio and strength training exercises. Let’s get into it!
How Often To Do Cardio vs. Strength Workouts
We’re going to break workouts into two very broad categories: cardio and strength.
Cardio workouts focus on a type of exercise called cardio, also known as aerobic or endurance exercise.
This includes activities such as running, some martial arts, and most of what is represented in a typical exercise video (star jumps, fast motions, and so on).
Strength training workouts have a completely different focus; this is what many think of when they see people in the gym. Lifting heavy weights is the most common association, but strength training can include other activities as well.
What To Do for Cardio Workouts
You should aim to do five days of cardio exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. This is typically recommended to be broken up into thirty minutes a day.
Cardio includes a variety of exercise and workout options. While the most accessible exercise is probably running, there are a variety of other activities that can help you get effective cardiovascular exercise in!
These include cycling, swimming, climbing, dancing, and almost anything else that will increase your heart rate (hence the name – “cardio” that refers to the heart). You could even run an obstacle course if you had one.
Making sure that you are doing a form of cardio that you enjoy will help keep up and increase your motivation to work out regularly. Therefore, it’s a good idea to pick out one (or several) forms of cardio exercise that appeal to you multiple times per week.
Some forms of cardio can be better for different people as well, as they involve different parts of the body and different stresses.
Cycling, for example, is generally more comfortable for people with knee pain than running.
What To Do for Strength Workouts
Strength workouts are all about building and strengthening the various minor and major muscle groups in your body. This means you’ll want to be doing exercises that put your muscles under strain.
You should aim to be spending a minimum of two days of strength training workouts each week, with these lasting around half an hour.
This is in addition to cardio workouts. However, if you spend half an hour for five days on a workout that combines cardio and strength, you will also be around the minimum recommendations.
The classic strength workout involves lifting weights, but this is certainly not the only thing to do. Indeed, lifting weights in itself is incredibly varied, as you can do so in many different ways.
For those without weights available, push-ups are an easy and accessible upper body workout. Similarly, pull-ups are a good option as all you need is a sturdy bar to hold on to that will support your weight.
If you have access to a gym, you’ll have a variety of weight machines available to you. You might also have a rowing machine – another great option for strength and full-body workouts.
In terms of weights, there are a vast variety of machines and exercises that you can use to strengthen your muscles. In fact, there are so many that we cannot hope to cover them all comprehensively in this guide!
In general, you want to make sure you are engaging in compound exercises to train multiple muscle groups and not just focus on one. Many people view strength training as just chest presses, but that's not the case.
Using a leg press or deadlifting (lifting weights on a bar from the ground) to train your lower body is just as important as bench-pressing (lifting weights above your chest while lying down) that will train your upper body.
How Many Days a Week Should I Workout to Build Muscle?
If you’re aiming to build muscle, you will certainly want to put more focus on this than the minimum requirements for workout days in a workout program.
For muscle growth, most sources recommend that you spend three to four sessions a week focusing on building your muscle groups in order to see lean muscle mass gains.
Making sure you split this so that you are focusing on all your muscle groups is important to ensure a balanced muscle development of your body.
How Many Days a Week Should I Workout to Lose Weight
If you’re aiming to lose weight, you will want to aim at working out at least four or five days a week with moderate-intensity exercises. You can work out more, of course – it all depends on how drastic a change you are aiming for.
Note that you don’t want to be losing more than 1 to 2 pounds per week to avoid causing health issues.
It’s important to monitor your progress carefully to ensure you are losing weight and exercising in a healthy way on your fitness journey.
Of course, five days a week might initially sound daunting. If this is the case, build up to it!
Any exercise is better than no exercise, after all. Start at two or three days a week and work up to going more frequently and for longer periods.
1. Is It Bad to Work Out Every Day?
In short, yes.
Making sure that you have rest days in your exercise program each week allows your muscles time to recover and grow, and also means you’re more likely to have a positive outlook on your individual goals.
You should be taking at least two days of rest a week. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sit down all day either.
Light stretches and light exercise, including gentle walks, can help ease muscle tension and offer more active recovery to get you ready for your next heavier exercise day.
2. Is Working Out Five Days a Week Too Much?
This depends entirely on how long you work out for each day and the type of training.
Light exercise every day of the week is extremely healthy and will help to keep you in the best shape possible.
However, if you are strength training with moderate to heavy intensity, it is recommended that you rest a day or two between workouts to prevent overtraining. This will give your muscles a chance to recover.
3. Is Working Out 30 Minutes a Day, Five Days a Week, Enough?
That amount of activity per week depends on your fitness goals.
While 30 minutes a day, five days a week is what is recommended by many public health organizations, there’s a possibility it might not be enough for you to reach your workout and exercise goals.
4. How to Prevent Working Out Becoming a Chore
Taking effective rest breaks will mean that you are likely to approach each new workout session with a much more positive mindset. This is because you won’t be as tired, both mentally and physically.
Working out with friends is also a great way to prevent it from feeling too much like a chore, as this lets you catch up with people while also getting some exercise in.
You can go to a cafe together afterward for a coffee and post-workout snack as well. Having workout partners will always keep each of you accountable.
In general, preventing working out from becoming a chore comes down to making it sustainable for you.
If you find yourself becoming exhausted or bored from going five days a week, go three or four instead. Also, choose exercises that you enjoy!
5. How Important Is It to Have a Clear Workout Plan?
Having a clear workout plan can be very helpful in terms of maintaining a healthy exercise routine to reach your goals.
Without a clear workout plan, you can be more easily tempted to skip a day of exercise or do cardio on a strength day.
Especially as a beginner, you can feel lost without a clear workout plan. This can then make you feel discouraged when trying to work out how to exercise.
Personal trainers can help you set goals and create the ideal workout program for you.
6. Is Two Hours in the Gym Too Much?
It’s been shown that the benefits of strength training begin to decline at the two-hour mark, so it's best to keep your workout sessions to two hours or less.
This is combined with exhaustion and general demotivation as you exercise for a longer time.
Two hours at the gym can be okay on occasion, but you shouldn’t make it a habit unless you are at a very high level of fitness.
If you are training for something in particular and will reduce the time afterward or just have one day where you go for a very long time, it’s not terrible to spend two hours at the gym.
However, if you are doing this regularly and don’t have a high pre-existing fitness level, it could lead to longer-term injury.
7. How Long Should the Rest Period Last?
You should make sure you are getting at least two rest days in a week. This is where you avoid doing any moderate- to heavy-intensity exercise and allow your body to recover.
If you’re older or are finding that it takes you longer to recover after a workout, you might need more rest days. This is something you will have to determine for yourself.