How Often Should I Workout?

As most of us have discovered, time is something we cannot get back and thus we value it in high regards. When it comes to working out, there are many questions one may ask to achieve a wide variety of goals. How many sets should I do? How many repetitions of each weight and how heavy should it be? How long should my workout be? It can often lead someone in the wrong direction, unless proper guidance is given and a plan of action is provided.

Our job as health professionals is to provide our clients with a prescription of exercise that is tailor-made to fit their specific needs and wants. Ask yourself who would be more likely to achieve their goal of losing 50 pounds; person A who says “I’ll just do some cardio and eat healthy” versus person B who has a plan to workout 4-5 days a week focusing on resistance training, high-intensity cardio, and hitting their macro-nutrient numbers given to them by a health professional?

As you can see, having a plan is the only way to achieve your goal. One of the questions an individual may ask themselves is how often should I workout? The answer may vary from person to person, but we need to understand how much time we spend being sedentary versus being active. For a normal individual that works Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, they should focus on:  

1. Resistance training 4 days a week. 

We would recommend a 2 day split for most individuals, which means 2 consecutive days working out followed by 1 day of active recovery and repeated by 2 days of working out. It takes your major muscle groups (legs, back, chest, shoulders) 48 hours to recover, so it makes sense to work out opposite muscle groups on day number 2, allowing for day number 1 muscles time to recover for day 3 of your workout. For instance, you may workout legs on Monday and back on Tuesday. If you gave your legs 48 hours until Thursday, you would be able to effectively include them in your workout. Of course, different training tactics can be used, but 4 days provide any working individual with a day of rest during the week and allows for weekends with the family and other obligations.    

2. Working out with a trainer for 2-3 out of the 4 days. 

Of course, the most effective would be to work out with your trainer for all 4 of the days, but financially and time-wise, that may not be feasible for most people. As health professionals, we understand that people have other obligations and we want to provide the highest quality we can. A good trainer will also provide you with workouts to do while not physically with the trainer on off days so that the plan is maintained. 

3. Using “off days” as “active recovery” days. 

Just because it’s a day of rest doesn’t mean we need to be sedentary all day. This is a great opportunity to seek some recreational exercise, such as a hike or walk. It provides a change of scenery from the gym and also is a great way to get the family involved! A typical person working 40 hours per week in a desk job, driving 1 hour to and from work, sleeping 8 hours per night is sedentary for 106 out of the 168-hour per week! This also does not include the time we spend watching TV or eating. As you can see, we need to do more than just spend our 4-5 hour a week being “active” and make it an overall lifestyle change.

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