Some people say three workouts a week is fine, others recommend six – talk about confusing - just how often SHOULD we be working out?
The answer? It depends largely on your purpose for working out, any fitness goals you might have and (if your goals are appearance based) to a lesser extent, your current body composition and shape.
For general wellbeing
There are plenty reasons to work out other than for specific fitness goals or appearance-related goals. Exercise is such an important part of our health, boosting our mood, improving our immune system, and preventing chronic disease.
For the general population, it's recommended that adults get about 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, spread across most, if not all, days of the week.
That equals roughly 25 minutes of moderate activity 6 days a week.
For specific fitness goals
Ok, so we know that in general we need to be moving our bodies for 25 minutes most days of the week. But what if we have a specific fitness goal that we're trying to achieve, like for example, training for a marathon, losing weight, getting stronger or improving our overall levels of fitness?
If your goal is to lean out or get strong, if you don't want to lose a lot of body fat, focus on weight training for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week, with an additional 2 to 4 sessions of moderate cardiovascular activity. Make sure to also take an active rest day or two so that you give your muscles time to recover, and don't train the same muscle group two days in a row.
For most beginners, I would write what's called a two day split program, consisting of two different workouts, alternating between those workouts, aiming for 3 sessions a week with a day's rest in between.
When you get a little more advanced, you can start bumping up the frequency of your workouts but when you're just starting out, 3 sessions per week is more than enough for building strength and overall weight loss.
If you also want to lose a lot of body fat, I typically recommend cardio training, at least 4 x 30 minute sessions a week, with 2 to 3 sessions of resistance training at moderate intensity, of course depending on your current fitness and experience level.
For a specific kind of workout
How often you work out also depends on the type of workouts that you're doing. If you're doing low intensity yoga classes for example, you could probably do them every day. But if you're doing, say, HIIT workouts, for example, more than 3 times a week is overdoing it, in my opinion.
For classes like Body Pump, circuit training or boot camp, I'd recommend starting with 3 classes a week, making sure you take an active recovery day between sessions and focusing on something less intense, like a brisk walk, yoga, or LISS cardio on those days.
If you're doing an aerobics class or kickboxing or another such cardio based class, at about a moderate-intensity level, you could potentially do this 4 or more days a week (of course, depending on your current fitness level). If you're just starting out with fitness, returning after a long absence, or recovering from an injury or pregnancy, I'd recommend starting out with two to three sessions a week and building from there.
For your current fitness level & lifestyle
Of course, all of this goes without saying that you need to take into account your current lifestyle and fitness level.
At the end of the day, you won't stick with a workout schedule that's just not realistic or sustainable, so risk of injury aside, don't go from doing no workouts a week to signing up for 3 fitness classes a day, 7 days a week. Going from one extreme to the other is setting yourself up for injury, burnout, and feeling defeated.
Make sure whatever you decide to do fits in with your lifestyle, your circumstances and your budget. If you're new, start off with 3 scheduled workouts a week, and going for a brisk walk on the other four days, and build from there.
This quantity guideline also applies if you're busy: don't bite off more than you can chew too soon! You can always find ways to add more movement to your day that don't involve scheduling in more time for workouts. There are ways to be active that involve family and friends so you just doesn't feel consumed with workouts.
Always remember: fitness is meant to enrich your life, not to restrict it, take away from it, or overtake it.
The question of "how often should I be working out" isn't an easily answered one, to be honest. There are so many factors like your current fitness experience level, your fitness goals, your current body composition, any injuries or medical conditions you may have, and your current lifestyle and budget. All these things play a part.
At the end of the day, no matter what your fitness goals or body composition goals are, the most important thing to remember is that daily exercise is good for us for so many more important reasons than outward physical appearance. It boosts mood, productivity, your immune system, and your confidence, reduces your risk of chronic disease and just amps up your overall well-being.
For this reason, I recommend focusing on getting in moderate activity for at least 20 minutes every single day. Depending on your fitness goals, we may tweak this further and focus on specific types of training like cardio, resistance, or flexibility. However, as long as you're moving, you're well on your way to a healthier, fitter, stronger body for life.
Now, onto the Captain's Log for yesterday! P.S. if you're just joining us, I'm on a 90 day journey to transform my health and fitness and I'm bringing you with me!
You can catch up on Days 1 through 30 by scrolling to the "Related Articles" section at the bottom of this post. And to stay up to date with how the journey's going (and get an amazing free bundle of resources to get you started on your fitness journey), click the banner below to get started. Let's do this together!
Ok so yesterday was a whole thing, because I slept in and I had to go grocery shopping after work. I could either (a) write a blog post or (b) go shopping for healthy food and make a nutritious dinner for me and Greg.
Soooooo yeah, yesterday's blog post didn't get up off the ground and today is a twofer. Yay for twofers!
Ok so breakfast didn't happen. I know that's not ideal but I honestly just didn't feel hungry at breakfast time and then we went out for pretty much the whole day.
We stopped in at Bunnings and Greg grabbed a sausage sizzle but I just wasn't feeling it for my first meal of the day.
After we got home from Bunnings, Greg and I took a walk down to our local op shop comma and afterwards we called into Subway because I was starting to get hangry.
I grabbed a 6 inch chicken teriyaki sub on rye with just all the salad, no cheese, and sweet onion sauce (and I had a sneaky raspberry cheesecake cookie for dessert – they are literally my favourite cookies. Yum!)
Sadly I could only take a photo of the food in wrappers because many things were taking place at that very moment. A storm was rolling in, so we had to eat fast, the wind was blowing a gale, and an ibis (aka bin chicken) was eying off my lunch, so I kept my lunch well encased to protect it from the elements.
Dinner was an easy one tonight. We had leftover pizza from Friday night (Domino's). I had four pieces with a glass of red wine.
I had a very sweet tooth this day, clearly. I feel like I was quite off track with my eating on Sunday, to tell the truth, but hey, that's real life, we all have off days.
I just had to try one of Greg's Bulla biscuit crunch choc covered ice cream bars. It was butterscotch flavour and so good.
Breakfast was super simple today. I didn't have a lot of time, so I poured myself some whole grain cereal. This is 3/4 cup of Oat Flakes and All Bran, with about half a cup of skim milk.
I just had instant coffee this morning, so I added some milk and oh my God, instant milk tastes so weird to me now!
I'm so used to espresso that instant coffee just tastes like a completely different drink now. God listen to me, I sound so bougie.
So because I was working through lunch so I could go to the grocery store after work, I ordered in my favourite sandwich of life. They make it at the Deli near my house and it's won awards for being the best sandwich on the Gold Coast.
It is literally insanely good. It is honestly to die. It's chicken, sundried tomato, avocado, red onion, cheese, aioli, and sweet chilli sauce and it is divine. Did I mention how good it tastes?
Dinner tonight marked the welcomed end of the Marley spoon era. We had "15 minute barramundi and noodles", which took a whole lot more than 15 minutes, might I add, but oh my God, so worth it!
It was delicious - so delicious, in fact, that I quite forgot to take a photo of it until I was about halfway through the meal. Oopsie!
I was so happy with myself for buying more yoghurt so I could enjoy a healthy dessert tonight - Danone YoPro yoghurt with a little bit of acai and LSA mixed in. So healthy and so satisfying.
My workout today was a super fun one for Monday. I found a Mousercise video on YouTube (my fellow 80s baby Disney fans will know), and bopped along to that like it was 1989.
I should also add, I wandered around Kmart for about an hour, and then I pushed a shopping cart around a busy supermarket for another hour, and it was one of those psycho trolleys that just goes where it wants, so I was working my core and my arms trying to pull it into line. I feel like that totally counts as extra credit for movement today.
Okay glam babies, let's wrap it up for another day. Before I leave you, let's huddle in quick for the motivation message.
Deep down, you know what you want.
You know what's calling you.
You're feeling indecisive only because there's a story you've told yourself about why your biggest wish is impossible.
So you set your sights lower and fail to get excited enough to take the reins and ride on after it.
That's why you're not sticking to your goals. That's why you're not consistent. That's why you're getting caught up in the day to day.
What if you were brave enough to take a deep breath and declare aloud what's on your heart?
What if clarity comes when you drop "I can't"?
And what if that clarity, declaration and action was everything the Universe needed to start making you a magnet for the life of your dreams?
Until tomorrow, keep shining bright.
- xo Rhi