How Often Should I Exercise?

Exercise Frequency: Striking the Right Balance for Fitness Success

No one can argue that exercise is good for us. A look at commercial gyms such as Soul Cycle where people come to attend spin classes, or  the number of people enrolling at UFC Gym these days and you’ll know there’s an increasing awareness on the importance of exercise for our health and well-being.

But what many people want to know is, how often do we need to exercise?

If your goal is to maintain your physical health, the CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.

You can divide your minutes however you prefer. For example you can do brisk walking for 30 minutes, five days a week. Or you can do 10 minute fast runs daily (7x a week).

But then comes the second question: Do you really need to work out every single day?

The truth is there’s no need to exhaust yourself every day of the week. Over-exercising can be counterproductive actually.

But that doesn’t mean you should be sedentary on your rest days.

Now, let’s discuss how often you should work out if weight loss is your goal.

How often you work out depends on how quickly you want to see the results.

In general, you should exercise at least four or five days per week to get weight loss results.

But to get the best outcome, you should incorporate a combination of cardiovascular and strength training exercises into your regular routine. Your workout should have the following:

  • Cardiovascular exercises
  • Strength training
  • Core work
  • Stretching

If the idea of exercising four to five days a week seems overwhelming, don’t worry. You can gradually build up your routine.

Let me show you an example of a weekly workout schedule for weight loss:

Day Exercise

  • Monday 30 minutes of moderate cardio and full-body workout
  • Tuesday 30 minutes of moderate cardio and full-body workout
  • Wednesday Rest day
  • Thursday 25 minutes of vigorous cardio
  • Friday 30 minutes of moderate cardio and full-body workout
  • Saturday 25 minutes of vigorous cardio
  • Sunday Rest day

*You can pick any cardio activity you like such as swimming, biking, running, or hiking.

According to the CDC, if you’re aiming for basic health, commit to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio on five days of the week (totaling 150 minutes per week), or engage in at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity on three days of the week (totaling 75 minutes per week).

However, if weight loss is your goal, consider incorporating a combination of at least two days of moderate activity and two days of vigorous activity into your routine.

Strength training for weight loss: Two to three days a week

For optimal weight loss results, aim for two to three days of strength training per week. Focus on full-body workouts that involve compound exercises—movements that work multiple muscles simultaneously.

Here are a few examples:

  • Box crawl
  • Rotational lunge
  • Quadruped row to arm extension
  • Squat to overhead press

Don’t fret if you lack equipment or are unfamiliar with certain exercises. You can use your body weight and rely on exercises you remember from your high school gym class. Here are some basic exercises to try:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Push-ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Triceps dips
  • Pull-ups
  • Rest for weight loss: Two days a week

Regardless of how enthusiastic you are about achieving your fitness goals, it’s crucial to allow your body to rest. Make sure to allocate at least two days a week for recovery.

To maximize the effectiveness of your weight loss routine, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Vary your workout intensity by incorporating both high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity exercises.
  • Mix up your cardio routine by trying different activities. Now might be the perfect time to take up rollerblading, for instance.
  • Implement circuit training during your strength training sessions to maintain a high calorie burn. Circuit training involves performing exercises back-to-back without rest, followed by a brief rest period of approximately one minute.
  • Don’t forget to take regular days off. You deserve it!

How frequently should you work out to build muscle?

If your goal is to gain strength and build muscle, you need to strike the right balance between cardio and strength training. Overdoing either aspect can lead to overtraining and the unfortunate loss of your hard-earned gains. However, if you don’t push yourself with intensity and dedication, your muscle growth will be limited.

Diet also plays a significant role in muscle building. In general, you should follow similar practices as you would for weight loss, such as:

  • Consuming whole foods
  • Incorporating complex carbs
  • Increasing your fiber intake
  • Reducing sugar consumption
  • Drinking more water
  • Boosting your protein intake

Remember, finding a workout routine that aligns with your goals and lifestyle is key. Adjustments can always be made along the way based on your progress and preferences.

Here’s a beginner friendly strength training workout you can try:

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