One of the major mistakes people make while working out is believing the myth that the more you workout, the better results you’ll see. Although there may be some truth behind this belief, this shouldn’t be how you should view fitness.
There are various factors that go into determining how much physical activity you require per week, and what kind of activity you need to participate in.
What is Your Goal?
Before you can determine how often you need to work out, you need to set clear goals about what you’re trying to achieve. Do you intend on running a few miles on the treadmill to shed those extra pounds? Or do you want to do some weight training so you can increase your strength? Or is your general goal just to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a general level of fitness?
Your intended exercise regime is dependent on what your goals are.
For Weight Loss
If your aim is to lose weight, the number of calories you burn will need to be greater than what you consume. Although you can lose weight just by cutting down on calories and maintaining a healthy diet, working out can help accelerate the process and help you maintain weight loss. With that said, there are some major benefits of regular physical activity as well.
In order to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner, it is recommended to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you try to lose more weight in a shorter amount of time, you may lose nutrients and become dehydrated, while also causing yourself to burn out.
However, there are programs that are designed to lose weight faster, and people have seen some success in these. But these programs should only be followed under professional supervision.
To make noticeable progress that is reflected on the scales, you will need to work out about 4 to 5 days per week. However, if you’ve been relatively sedentary, or have never worked out before, then this goal may be too much for a beginner. In such cases, start working out 2 to 3 days a week, and then build up to 5 days to get more comfortable with the workout routine.
It is important to include a variety of activities in your regime. Just running on the treadmill for 2 hours, 5 days a week can get redundant and won’t be as effective. Thus, make sure your workouts are a combination of the following strength training, cardio, core workout and stretching.
Cardiovascular exercises and strength training can help you achieve maximum results from your workout program.
Lifting weight causes you to increase your lean muscle mass, boosting metabolism, and allowing fat to burn at a faster rate, even when you’re resting.
For best results, you can should aim for 2 to 3 days of strength training per week.
Some of the best exercises you can include in your plan include:
- Overhead presses
- Straight leg deadlifts
- Dumbbell rows
- Exercise ball crunches
It is also important that you include full-body workouts that focus on compound exercise. Examples of such exercises include pushups and plans with one-arm row, squats with a shoulder press, lunges with a lateral raise, deadlift with a bent-over row, etc.
You may hear the terms cardiovascular training, and think that it is only supposed to improve your heart health. Although it is true that it is essential to maintain good heart health, cardio exercises have a lot more benefits. It can help burn off more calories, boost your mood and even decrease stress. Regular cardio can also delay the onset of certain diseases that are related to obesity or old age.
With cardio, you can generally aim for one of the following:
- Vigorous aerobic activity for at least 25 minutes 3 days a week. (total of 75 minutes per week)
- Moderate-intensity cardio for 30 to 35 minutes per week, 4 to 5 days a week. (total of about 150 minutes per week)
However, your weight loss can be accelerated if you opt for 2 days of vigorous aerobic activity or high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) and 2 days of moderate activity.
If you aim to gain lean muscle, then finding the right balance of cardio exercise and strength training is the key. If you don’t put in enough time, effort and intensity, you won’t see any visible progress. However, if you end up putting too much time and effort, you risk overtraining, which can diminish your muscle gains.
When building muscle, it is ideal to divide your days between cardiovascular training and strength training, ensuring that you are reaping benefits from both types of workouts.
- Cardiovascular Training
If your aim is to gain muscles, then sticking to 2 to 3 days of cardio per week is ideal. However, you’ll have to focus on shorter, higher intensity sessions, such as 25-minute HITT sessions.
- Strength Training
At minimum, you need to hit the weights at least twice a week to see progress in muscle mass. However, ideally you should be aiming for 3 days a week to see consistent, noticeable gains.
The exercises to gain muscle mass or lose weight are similar. However, the way you plan your workout and diet will make the difference in results you see.
If you aim to maintain a general level of fitness, then you can start by 2 days of moderate cardiovascular and 2 days of strength training. Once you get used to this routine, you will be able to understand your body’s requirements better and can then tweak your routine accordingly.
“Active Rest” Days
If you are working out 4 to 5 days a week, then you are bound to have 2 to 3 days of rest per week.
Don’t think of rest days as cheat days, as rest days are crucial for a good workout routine. When you perform vigorous physical activities, your muscles break down and repair themselves for you to reap the benefits of the workout. Having rest days allows the muscles to heal properly.
However, this does not mean that you should just sleep around on rest days without doing anything. In a healthy lifestyle, an adult person should partake in at least 30 minutes of light physical activity each day, irrespective of whether they are working out or not.So on your off days, you can spend some time stretching, clean out your room, finish the chores you’ve been putting off, clean the backyard, or just take a long stroll down the road.