This is a very common question asked of me but the answer however always comes from you. You don’t know the answer? To help find it, think long term - think 5 years ahead, 10 years ahead. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? At those points in time, how many times a week do you want to be working out? 3, 4, 5, 6, 7? More?
Let’s assume you decide 3-4. What now?
Build that habit now, not later, not next year, now!
One thing I forgot to mention though. When I say ‘workout’ I mean Focussed Intense Resistance Exercise (FIRE) (aka weight training) and Intense Cardio Exercise (ICE). This is the type of training that challenges the body and helps create the right stimulus for the body to make positive change.
What about walking, jogging, pilates, yoga, swimming, etc?
I love each of these, and each are very important, but they sit outside of the workout category. They are what I call LIA (Less Intense Activity), and are vital for any well balanced exercise regime.
More is not always better when it comes to exercise because working out is a double-edge sword - too much (FIRE and ICE) and the benefits fade away and are replaced with things like injuries, zero fat loss, fat gain, muscle loss, fatigue, more susceptible to illnesses, and an elevated resting heart rate - all the things we are trying to avoid in the first place!
And beside all that, isn’t is much easier to find time for 3-4 sessions per week compared to 7 - especially as a busy mum or dad?
You have to remember that the workout itself creates a stimulus for the body to do something, so the real magic from the workouts happen once you have finished and you have entered the ‘recovery zone’ (does anyone else have ‘The Twilight Zone’ theme going through their head right now?)
Too many workouts, too frequently, will only hamper recovery. Does that mean you should not be active each day? Nope. Remember LIA?
Now LIA does not have to be a structured activity like the ones listed above, you can also just get out and about and move around - play with the kids, go for a bush walk, a seaside walk, walk to the cafe instead of driving - you get the idea.
Is there a minimum number of workouts you should be aiming for each week?
Using my experience as both a coach and someone who has undergone a body and health transformation, working out (and that means FIRE or ICE) less than twice a week won’t really do you much good. Sure, a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing, but you are basically kidding yourself if you think it will effectively give you any real result.
You need to figure out what sort of FIRE and ICE works for you and then aim for 3-4 sessions per week. Implement it but first do yourself a favour and get a notebook. Take some pictures of yourself and stick them in it. Also note down your energy levels, how well you sleep, the condition of your hair, nails, and skin, how happy you are, your general mood, etc. Then each time you workout (remember, that means FIRE or ICE), put a tick in there. After 4 weeks, take note of the things you wrote down at the start and see if there is a difference. If there isn’t, I’ll eat my hat!
If you can maintain the 3-4 workouts for a month, you should be able to maintain it for 3 months. If you can maintain it for 3 months, I bet you can maintain it for 9. At the 3, 6, 9 month mark, also re-take your photos, stick them in your notebook and compare. If there is no change, I’ll eat my other hat!
There you have it. Doing more is not always the best way to go when you are looking for a sustainable health and fitness regime and 3-4 is a great balance. There is one caveat though - if you are coming from a dead-set sedentary lifestyle, progressively build up to 3-4 sessions per week. Start with 2 and do that for a few weeks. Add the 3rd for a few weeks and then later add the 4th.
Stay Strong 💪 Stay Healthy 🍎 Stay Happy 😊