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How Often Should You Workout Per Week?

Published June 25, 2019 (Revised: April 07, 2020) Read Time: 7 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "", "image": "" } }, "headline":"How Often Should You Work Out Per Week?", "datePublished":"2019-06-25", "dateModified": "2020-04-07", "description":"How often should you work out per week? It's probably not as many workouts as you'd think. Here's what you need to set up your ideal fitness routine.", "image": "" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How many days a week should you work out?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "While this amount can vary based on the individual and their fitness needs, a good number for most people is three workouts per week, thirty minutes per day. To some people, this number may seem low. But science shows this is all you need to get results if you work hard and stay consistent. Apply that to your routine and you will get results." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Is it good to work out every day?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "No it isn't. When it comes to exercise, science is clear that more is not necessarily better. Consider: A 2016 study found that high-frequency strength training yields similar results as to low-frequency training (2-3 times per week). The study goes on to say that consistency over an 8-week period was much more important for results." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">How Many Days A Week Should You Work Out?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">How Does Recovery From Exercise Work?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Is It Good To Work Out Every Day?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Active Recovery Sessions</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Other Ways To Promote Recovery</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>In America, 1 in 3 people are at an unhealthy weight. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup></p> <p>And it's no coincidence that statistics show the same amount of American adults—1 in 3—don't get enough exercise each week, either. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup></p> <p>For all of us, working out is crucial for our health, physical appearance, and overall vitality.</p> <p>But those statistics bring up an important question:</p> <p><i>How often should you work out</i>—how many days per week, and for how many minutes?</p> <p>Here's how much exercise you should get each week, and why recovering from your workouts is just as important as the exercise itself!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>How many days a week should you work out?</h2> <p>While this amount can vary based on the individual and their fitness needs, a good number for most people is <i>three workouts per week, thirty minutes per day</i>. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup></p> <p>If that's all the information you were looking for, you're all set. Apply that to your routine and you will get results.</p> <p>But if you want to understand the science behind this, keep reading. We'll also review some exercise guidelines you can follow to achieve your specific fitness goals.</p> <h3>Is working out 3 times a week enough?</h3> <p>Yes it is. Three workouts per week is enough to stimulate muscle growth, improve your cardiovascular system, and promote weight loss. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup></p> <p>To some people, this number may seem low. But science shows this is all you need to get results if you work hard and stay consistent.</p> <p><i>(By the way, we've seen thousands of people <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">transform their health and bodies</a> following this protocol.)</i></p> <p>Another thing that's equally important is picking the right type of fitness routine for the goals you want to achieve. </p> <p>Here are a few guidelines to help you tailor your workouts to your fitness goals.</p> <h4>For weight loss</h4> <p>Guidelines:</p> <ul> <li>Focus on doing high-intensity <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">cardio workouts</a>—particularly HIIT style. Aim to be breathing heavily for at least half your workout. (The other half is for recovery in between efforts.)</li> <li>Choose exercises like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">burpees</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lunges</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">pushups</a> and other <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">full-body movements</a> that fit into HIIT-style workouts like Tabata (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest x 8 rounds).</li> </ul> <p>This approach will help you burn as many calories as possible during your workout.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup></p> <p>Plus, performing exercise at a high-intensity like this will boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories for up to 14 hours after your workout. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup></p> <h4>For muscle gain</h4> <p>Guidelines:</p> <ul> <li>Focus on high-intensity <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">resistance training movements</a> like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">pushups</a>, lunges, squats, sit-ups, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">planks</a>—any other exercises that really fatigue your muscles.</li> <li>Aim for small improvements each time you workout—do 11 reps instead of 10, or aim to do 10 pushups a little faster than you did last time, etc.</li> </ul> <p>These sorts of movements are time-efficient because they target multiple muscle groups at once, and have been proven to help improve muscle mass and strength.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup></p> <p>And by constantly making small improvements, you'll continually make progress and will avoid hitting a plateau with your training. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup></p> <h4>For both weight loss and muscle gain</h4> <p>If your fitness goals involve <i>both</i> weight loss and muscle growth, simply combine the two approaches.</p> <p>Guidelines:</p> <ul> <li>Choose <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">functional exercises</a> that hit multiple muscle groups at once.</li> <li>Focus on making small improvements each time you exercise (adding more reps, moving at a faster pace, etc)</li> <li>Perform your workouts at a high-intensity so that you receive the cardiovascular and metabolism-boosting benefits that help burn fat.</li> </ul> <p>These guidelines are a good place to start with your routine. Now, we'll look at how recovery factors into the mix.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="muscle recover working out"> <h2 id="section2">How does recovery from exercise work?</h2> <p>To better understand why three workouts per week is optimal, it helps to understand what happens metabolically to your body during and after exercise.</p> <p>Intense bouts of exercise produce microtears in your muscle tissue. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup></p> <p>Although this can lead to soreness and fatigue, these tiny tears are actually a good thing. Muscle damage from exercise is like a "cue" for your brain to adapt to the stress of working out. </p> <p>Two examples of these adaptations are:</p> <ul> <li>Resistance training makes your muscles stronger, thicker, and more mitochondria-dense (mitochondria give you more power and energy). <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a></sup></li> <li>Cardiovascular exercise increases the strength of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels so that you can pump oxygenated blood more efficiently throughout your body. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup></li> </ul> <p>Think of it this way: working out is the stimulus (event) that needs to take place for your brain to send signals to your body to carry out those adaptations—up to 96 hours after exercise, depending on how hard you pushed yourself. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">14</a></sup></p> <p>But results don't come just from working out—they come from working out <i>and</i> properly recovering from working out (so those adaptations can take place). You need both.</p> <p>And that's why working out every day can be a problem.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Is it good to work out every day?</h2> <p>No it isn't. When it comes to exercise, science is clear that more is not necessarily better. </p> <p>Consider:</p> <ul> <li>A 2016 study found that high-frequency strength training yields similar results as to low-frequency training (2-3 times per week).<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">15</a></sup> The study goes on to say that <i>consistency over an 8-week period</i> was much more important for results.</li> <li>A 2015 study found that too much cardio exercise may actually <i>lessen</i> the heart health benefits of the exercise. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">16</a></sup></li> <li>Similarly, a 2018 study found that people over 45 who exercise vigorously for more than 4 hours per week may increase their risk of cardiovascular-related health problems .<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">17</a></sup>*</li> </ul> <p><i>*The study also mentions that light exercise (like walking) offers immense benefits and has no weekly "cap" that could make it harmful. (See the next section for more on active recovery.)</i></p> <p>So the truth is, working out every day may do more harm for you than good—both for performance and overall health.</p> <p>It could also lead to overtraining syndrome, which brings about a host of other issues.</p> <h3>What happens when you overtrain</h3> <p><i>Too much exercise</i> can hamper the muscle recovery process, and delay or prevent your muscles from undergoing protein synthesis.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">18</a></sup> </p> <p>Exercising too much for a long period of time also increases your risk of developing <i>overtraining syndrome</i>, a condition that happens when you work out too much for a long period of time (several weeks or months) and don't give your body time to repair itself.</p> <p>Overtraining syndrome (OTS) can:</p> <ul> <li>Negatively impact workout performance <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">19</a></sup></li> <li>Increase your risk of injuries</li> <li>Compromise the health of your nervous, immune, and endocrine systems <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">20</a></sup></li> <li>Exacerbate mental health issues like depression and anxiety <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">21</a></sup></li> <li>Result in a loss of fitness motivation</li> </ul> <p>And it can take weeks of not exercising at all to get back to "normal" once you develop OTS. So the best case scenario is to avoid it altogether.</p> <p>One way you can do this is to add active recovery sessions to your weekly routine instead of additional workouts.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="how often to workout"> <h2 id="section4">Active recovery sessions</h2> <p>If you want to move more than three times a week but don't want to hamper your recovery or risk overtraining, do a few light recovery sessions.</p> <p>These are low-impact, low-intensity movement sessions, and could involve activities such as:</p> <ul> <li>Foam rolling or any type of myofascial release practice (a self-massaging technique that can be done with a roller, tennis ball or broom handle)</li> <li>Going for a walk</li> <li>Doing a light swim workout, hike, or biking session</li> <li>Stretching or doing some light yoga</li> </ul> <p>The benefits of active recovery include:</p> <ul> <li>Increased blood flow, which can help reduce soreness and fatigue. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">22</a></sup></li> <li>Burning extra calories without hindering recovery—great if you're trying to lose weight.</li> </ul> <p>The key is to dial back the intensity: a good rule of thumb during active recovery sessions is you should never be breathing so heavy that you can't hold a conversation.</p> <p>A light sweat and 20 to 30 minutes of movement is all you need.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Takeaways</h2> <p>Regardless of your goals, three workouts per week for about 30 minutes is the ideal amount to get results. This number might seem low, but science shows you don't need to exercise every day (or even most days) to add muscle or lose weight.</p> <p>In fact, there are downsides to exercising too frequently. You could develop overtraining syndrome, which can impact your workout performance, increase your risk of injury, and even mess with your hormones and mental health.</p> <p>Instead of extra workouts, try adding 1 or 2 active recovery sessions to your weekly routine. These are light workouts designed to burn a few extra calories and boost muscle recovery.</p> <p>Remember, people who don't exercise at all are more likely to be at an unhealthy weight. Maybe you were putting off exercising because you believed you had to do it every single day.</p> <p>With this information, you can build a more reasonable workout routine that works for both your schedule and your goals.</p> </section> </article>

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