Every day, we see people sharing on social media that they work out anywhere from one to seven days a week—all achieving incredible results, whether it’s weight loss or toning a major muscle group, from their routines. Because of this, it’s hard to determine what workout schedule is right for you. It may seem like there should be a cut-and-dry answer, but the truth is, everybody is different. A beginner might see great results by working out three times per week, while a fitness novice may need to hit the gym six days a week to see the results that he or she is working for.
The most important thing to remember when starting a training program is to listen to your body. If you can’t quite get to three times a week, work out two days, and go for a long walk on the third day. You can always work up to more training. Know your limits.
While there is no one perfect number of days to work out, multiple sources state that strength training three or four times per week is optimal. When you strength train three or four times a week, you will be able to work in all of your muscle groups in just one week. Most people tend to group together specific muscle groups. Here is an example of a one-week, three-day strength-training workout:
Monday: Chest and Triceps
Wednesday: Back and Biceps
Friday: Legs and Shoulders
In the case of maintenance, each individual should try to strength train at least twice a week. While this probably won’t get you bench pressing 500 lbs., or bulging shoulders or a 12-pack, that isn’t the goal! The goal is to strengthen your joints (important body parts!) and keep yourself on a healthy track as you get older.
When you begin to reach your 50s, strength training becomes even more important. Weightlifting just two times a week decreases your chance of developing osteoporosis—which can lead to fragile and even broken bones. Lifting weights can also strengthen your core which will give you better balance so there is less likelihood of you falling and breaking those bones.
There are countless benefits to strength training at any age. So, try to work some in each week.
You may be thinking, all of that looks nice but I need cardio workouts too. We agree! Cardio should be done two or three times a week for 20 minutes or more. So, let’s be sure to add it into the schedule!
Monday: Chest and Triceps (upper body)
Tuesday: Cardio and Abs (core)
Friday: Legs and Shoulders
Saturday: Back and Biceps (upper body)
Your workouts are totally customizable. If you can only workout three days a week for an hour, try 30 minutes of weightlifting and then add in some cardio for 20 to 30 minutes on the same day Weightlifting before cardio has been proven to amp up results because cardio depletes more of your glycogen stores than weightlifting. This causes you to be weaker and unable to perform at your best when doing cardio before weightlifting.
All in One
If you can’t quite get to the gym five days a week and you still want to see results, add in a plyometric workout like Insanity, or try HIIT training (high-intensity interval training). These exercises get your heart rate up and work your entire body while offering you cardio exercise at the same time. What’s better than making the most out of a tight schedule?
Rest and Relaxation
With all of this in mind, please remember to rest. Rest isn’t always accounted for in a fat loss or strength and weight training regime, but rest is essential for toning and building muscles because rest days allow your muscles, tissues, and nerves to rebuild. When you skip this crucial step you run the very real risk of injury. Allow up to 48 hours between training sessions for the same area of your body. This means you shouldn’t be doing ab exercises every day that you train.
In the world of, “Do, Do, Do,” resting can be a hard thing to wrap your mind around. However, you can rest assured knowing that your body is working (and sometimes even burning calories more rapidly) —even on your days off.
With this knowledge in mind, we hope that you get out there and see your goals through. Remember: Know your limits and give your muscles and your body time to rest and recover. With a smart exercise program (which doesn’t always mean a daily workout), a healthy diet, and a healthy sleep pattern, there is no doubt that you will succeed!