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How Often Should I Workout

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How Often Should I Work out?

Zach Columbia B.S. NASM FPT


The answer to how often you should workout depends on who you ask. Some health professionals will say three times a week. Some will say 30 minutes four times a week. If you ask your trainer, they may say five times a week. The answer is not as clear cut as one may think. The real answer is it depends.

It depends on for what. Heart health, fat loss, muscle growth, sport performance? Your health and fitness goals may dictate how often you work out. Then of course, there’s the question of how many times a week it’s realistic for you to workout based on your lifestyle and schedule.

Making things even more difficult, what your goals are multiplied by your schedule will determine what you need to be doing in your workouts to see results. The whole question of how often should one workout is not as simple and straight forward as answering three times a week. There are simply too many variables.

If your goal is to lose 20lbs in 6 weeks, working out 30minutes a day three times a week is not going to get you there. Likewise, if you’re wanting to gain 5lbs of lean muscle mass, lifting weights twice a week and running three times a week is probably the wrong plan for you. However, if you are going to workout three times a week for an hour, a combination of lifting heavy weights for 40 minutes and doing high intensity interval training for 10-15 minutes will help you gain lean muscle and lose body fat. The similar results could be accomplished by just lifting weights five times a week or lifting weights four times a week and doing high intensity cardio one day a week. If you’re starting to scratch your head, that’s okay. I’m trying to make the point that you can’t just go to the gym without a strategy and expect to accomplish your goals. What you’re doing in your workouts should be dictated by your goals and frequency.

Our members typically come to us with three main goals; overall they just want to feel good, they want to tone up, and they want to lose bodyfat. Most are trying to live a healthy lifestyle and see steady realistic results. For those people, here is my general rule of thumb:

2 – 1 hour workouts consisting of 85% weight training and 15% metabolic training per week will help you maintain where you’re at. Usually there will be steady results for 4-8 weeks with this plan, then two times a week won’t be enough.

3 – 1 hour workouts consisting of 85% weight training and 15% metabolic training per week will help you continue to progress until you almost hit your fitness goals. This usually is enough as a long-term maintenance plan if you’re wanting to get into decent shape and stay in decent shape.

4 - 1 hour workouts consisting of 85% weight training and 15% metabolic training per week for the rest of your life is the golden plan. You’re not obsessive. You’ll feel great. Plus, it’s easier to stay on track, because you’re working out more days than you’re not.

5 – 1 hour workouts consisting of five weight training focused days and one metabolic day is also a great program for someone with more aggressive goals or for someone that just loves to workout.

6 – 20 minute high intensity workouts each week is a great alternative plan for someone with extreme time constraints. 

I always advise people to seek professional help. There is a reason they call this stuff exercise science after all. If you want to maximize the time you spend in the gym, knowing what to do is the first step. Here at Pulse, we help people put together a roadmap and program based on their fitness goals and schedule.

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