“How often should I train? “
“Is there an optimal times per week to train? “
“Will training more get me bigger, leaner, stronger or more toned? “
These are all common questions that I’ve been asked before.
I used to train each body part once per week, you know the drill, Monday international chest day, Tuesday back day etc…
But within a few months, my progress stalled, my ‘gainz’ went nowhere and I began looking for something better, something which would yield better results.
Whilst I’ve had success with clients training twice per week (4-5 stone weight loss), their nutrition was the biggest factor in their success.
As a general rule though; if you’re looking for any kind of results, training less than 3 days per week probably isn’t going to cut it, whether that’s looking for fat loss, strength gains or you’re looking to become leaner.
And they will be the topics covered in this article, how often should you train to:
- Getting stronger
- Losing Weight
- Toning Up
When training for fat loss:
Before I go in to what a fat burning workout should consist of, you need to make time for proper nutrition, if you don’t, it doesn’t really matter what workout you do, you need to make time for prioritising your nutrition.
Yes, this is a training article, but ensuring your diet is in working order first will make that sweet, sweet fat loss that much more straight forward for you. The easiest way to make sure you stick to your nutrition is counting your calories (ensuring you’re in a calorie deficit) using something such as my fitness pal, that and getting enough protein and veggies in and you’ll be good to go.
You can learn how to count calories extremely effectively in this article.
- Exercise Selection
To ensure you torch body fat and maintain/build muscle mass, a great port of call is to use full body workouts to achieve your goals that bit quicker. Focusing on large compound movements, such as squat, bench and deadlift, ensures that you’re using multiple muscle groups at once.
Simply put, the more muscle groups you use, the greater number of calories you burn during your workout, ramping up your metabolism.
This is especially important when it comes to fat loss, as the biggest factor in weight/fat loss is calories in vs calories out.
- Rep/Set Scheme
To further increase your calorie burn during your workouts, using higher repetition sets, (ranging between 8-15 reps), will ultimately turn you in to a fat burning machine.
Aiming for 3-4 sets per muscle group is a good way to ramp up the calorie burn further also.
Another great way to make fat loss that bit easier is to increase your activity outside of the gym, which leads me in to my next point of…
- To cardio or not to cardio
That is the question…
Often when people think fat loss, they assume cardio.
Cardio is a tool to be used when fat loss stalls and you need something to increase your calorie burn outside of the gym.
But, being more active in general is never a bad thing, especially when your aim is to lose unwanted body fat.
So, if you’re already slogging it lifting heavy ass weight 3-4 times per week, adding in high intensity interval training might make the ability to recover harder than it needs to be.
What I’d suggest instead is ramping up your outdoor walking.
Walking has the added benefit of being joint friendly and as most of us are human we’re mechanically efficient at it.
It’s also a perfect recipe for fat loss, as you can do a lot of it without feeling like crap for a day or two afterwards. A great aim is to hit 10,000 steps per day.
When training to get stronger:
- Main focus for strength
Getting stronger initially is fairly simple, you need to manipulate one of three things and you’ll get stronger.
The three things are:
- Volume (this is sets x reps)
- Intensity (also called load, this is weight on the bar/movement)
- Frequency (this is how many times you do a certain lift/movement)
Week to week, if you aim to increase either weight on the bar, repetitions on a movement or increase the amount of times you perform a certain movement you will get stronger. At least as a beginner you will anyway.
You don’t need to be testing your 1 repetition max week to week, if you can squat 60kg for 5 reps on week 1 and then by week 3 you can now do 70kg for 5 reps, you’ve gotten stronger.
So, no, you don’t need to test ‘where you are at’.
So a typical 3 week cycle could like so:
Monday – Squat 5×5 @ 60 kg
Wednesday – Squat 2×5 @50kg
Friday – Squat 1×5 @ 70kg
Monday – Squat 5×5 @ 65 kg
Wednesday – Squat 2×5 @ 55kg
Friday – Squat 1×5 @ 75 kg
Monday – Squat 5×5 @ 70 kg
Wednesday – Squat 2×5 @ 60 kg
Friday – Squat 1×5 @ 80 kg
- Exercise Selection
Focusing on big, compound movements should be of primary focus to be gaining strength, the fact that these movements are recruiting a lot of muscles at once ensures that not only are you going to get stronger, but you’ll also build a lot of solid muscle in the process.
Exercises such as squatting, deadlifting, benching, pull ups, tricep dips are all great exercises to focus on for maximal strength gains.
- Rep/Set Scheme
Strength training is taxing on the nervous system, unlike bodybuilding, which is more taxing on the musculoskeletal system.
This means that trying to do 7-8 exercises per muscle group is sure-fire way to stall progress or worse, get injured.
Aim for 2-4 exercises per muscle group, in the rep range of 3-8 repetitions.
Also, unlike bodybuilding, getting stronger requires that you increase the weight on the bar, this means that the intensity is a lot higher, therefore factoring in things like de-load weeks once a month is a brilliant way to keep making gainz, limit any over-use injuries and keep progressing at a rate of knots that will have your friends jealous in the months to come.
Training to tone up:
- The main focus for toning up
Similar to fat loss, performing repetitions somewhere in the region of 8-15 rep range is going to tone up your muscles. One of the biggest factors in getting more toned is volume, furthering from that, volume load is of even bigger importance.
As mentioned earlier, volume is sets x reps.
Volume load goes one step further though.
This is sets x reps x weight on the bar.
So let’s use the example from above, you might need your pocket calculator if your maths is anything like mine..
Let’s say you squat 60kg x 10 x 4 (weight x reps x sets) on week 1.
That equates to 2400kg of work done, (60 kg x 10 x 4= 2400kg)
By week 3 you’re squatting 70kg x 10 x 4 = 2800kg, that is now an increase of 400kg over your sets.
So an extra 400kg going through your quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, calves etc.
By looking at volume load, training to tone up makes it a lot simpler when you know what you’re looking for.
You could easily just increase the weight week to week, or the number of sets, or the frequency that you train a certain muscle group, all these things add up to you getting more toned.
- Exercise Selection
To enhance muscle tone/definition, aiming to hit a mixture of big compound exercises and also isolation exercises to target specific muscles will ensure you not only get stronger, but also build solid muscle in target areas.
A common way to train for most beginners is focusing on body part split routines, whilst this approach can work initially, progress soon stalls.
By increasing the number of times your muscle is exposed to a certain stimulus, ie: squatting twice per week, will make sure that your muscles aren’t waiting a full week to recover from the previous session.
The biggest factor in reaching your goals:
It’s one single word.
If you’re not consistent in your workouts, whether you’re trying to get stronger, more toned, or lose fat, you’re leaving gainz/loses on the table.
Take home message:
- Fat Loss
- Get your nutrition on point via tracking your calories
- Select big compound exercises to increase muscle recruitment
- Stick to higher rep ranges, somewhere between 8-15 reps and 3-4 sets.
- Select your cardio based on how intense your current training is.
- Strength Training
- Increase weight on the bar, increase volume or increase frequency of the lift you’re performing.
- Select big compound movements like squat, bench and deadlift.
- Pick 2-4 exercises per muscle group.
- Strength is a skill, so increase your frequency of training a lift to get better at a certain lift.
- Toning up
- Keep repetitions in the region of 8 – 15.
- Aim to increase volume load progressively over the weeks/months of training.
- Train each muscle group between
As a beginner, you only want to begin working out 1-3 days a week. It is important to provide a chance for your body to adapt and adjust to the new routine. Focus on full-body strength training that starts slow and ramps up over time.How many times a week should you train as a beginner? ›
To start, you might only want to do two or three days per week and slowly work your way up to five days. Plan your workouts to include a combination of: cardio. strength training.What is a good 7 day workout schedule? ›
- Day 1: Chest.
- Day 2: Back and core.
- Day 3: Rest.
- Day 4: Shoulders and traps.
- Day 5: Legs.
- Day 6: Arms.
- Day 7: Rest.
In general, 30 to 40 minutes is considered optimal for beginners, but this doesn't mean that you should push your body past its limits if it's still too much for you. What's more, you must take regular breaks between sets. Use this time to stretch and recover before you jump onto the next piece of equipment.Should I workout 5 days a week as a beginner? ›
It's better that you gradually work up to exercising several days per week while you see how your body responds. “Start low and go slow,” Dr. Higgins said. “The current recommendation is 2-3 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per day.Is 2 hours at gym too much? ›
But in general, adults should get around five hours a week of moderate exercise or two and a half hours of more intense activity. Or some combination of the two. That's according to the CDC. But research shows that going way above and beyond that doesn't increase your health benefits.Can a beginner train 6 days a week? ›
Training 6 days a week is fine, as long as your spread volume out over the course of the week. for example, in a typical bro split (destroy each body part once a week - not the best way to train by the way) you may hit each muscle group for 20–24 sets in a workout.Can a beginner train twice a day? ›
For beginners, the notion of working out twice a day might feel like a distant prospect. Yet an increasing number of everyday recreational athletes and gym-goers are doing it – and many fitness professionals say that it can be safe and effective for most people.How many workouts should I do as a beginner? ›
Allowing your body at least 1 day to recover between each full-body workout is key, so three sessions per week is a good baseline to start with. Within these workouts, you'll choose one exercise for each muscle group — back, chest, shoulders, legs, core — and, as a beginner, aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.How do I structure my workout week? ›
On Monday and Thursday, complete a lower body workout. On Tuesday and Friday, complete an upper body workout. Your rest days are Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Since you are working out lower and upper body twice per week, target all muscle groups.
If you want to work out five days per week and are working on both strength and cardiovascular fitness, try three days of strength training, two days of cardio, and two days of active rest. If you want to work out four days a week, think about your goals: If you want to add muscle, cut a cardio day.How do you start a workout routine for beginners? ›
- Consider your fitness goals. ...
- Create a balanced routine. ...
- Start low and progress slowly. ...
- Build activity into your daily routine. ...
- Plan to include different activities. ...
- Try high-interval intensity training. ...
- Allow time for recovery. ...
- Put it on paper.
- Barbell push press (6 reps x 4 sets)
- Goblet squat (6 reps x 4 sets)
- Dumbbell single arm row (6 reps x 4 sets)
- Shoulder lateral raise (6 reps x 4 sets)
- Bench press (6 reps x 4 sets)
- Pull ups/assisted pull ups (6 reps x 4 sets)
- Barbell bicep curls (8 reps x 4 sets)
A “bro split” refers to any workout routine (or “split”) that trains different body parts (or muscle groups) on different days. For instance, training arms one day, chest another, shoulders another, and so on.Is a 30 minute workout 5 days a week enough? ›
If your goals are to exercise for health and longevity, 30 minutes a day for five days a week is perfect. According to the CDC, adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases.Is 3 days a week enough to build muscle? ›
Spending your whole day in the gym isn't necessary to build muscle. Weight training for 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week is enough to see results. You should try to target all your major muscle groups at least twice throughout your weekly workouts.Do gyms let you go twice a day? ›
Still, twice-a-day workouts are completely safe if you take time to recover, eat a good diet (with enough protein and calories), get enough sleep, and stay hydrated. By going to the gym twice a day, you can build and strengthen your muscles over time.Why am I gaining weight while working out? ›
Increased muscle fuel also adds a little weight
When you exercise regularly, your body stores more glycogen to fuel that exercise. Stored in water, glycogen has to bind with water as part of the process to fuel the muscle. That water adds a small amount of weight, too.
The ideal workout duration can vary significantly depending on the person, their goals, their preferences, and the exercise type. For weightlifting and bodyweight strength training, 45–60 minutes per session may suffice. Meanwhile, cardiovascular and calisthenic training may be better if performed for 30–60 minutes.Do beginners need rest days? ›
Whether you're a novice or seasoned athlete, regular rest is crucial. It's necessary for muscle repair, preventing fatigue, and overall performance. To make the most out of your rest days, do low-impact workouts like yoga and walking. These activities will help you stay active while letting your body recover.
A 6 day workout split can involve training each muscle group once, twice or even three times per week. A 6 day workout split that involves training each muscle group about once a week would be something a more novice lifter could manage as it allows for enough recovery time based on each muscle group.What happens if I train 2 hours a day? ›
People with certain medical conditions should not attempt a two-hour workout without medical approval or supervision. If you have a joint problem, working out for too long can make the pain or inflammation worse. If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, such a long workout can actually be dangerous.Is it better to workout in the morning or at night? ›
Your physical performance might improve: Research shows that most people function better, physically speaking, later in the day. Muscle strength, flexibility, power output and endurance are all better in the evening than they are in the morning.How long should I workout a day? ›
As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too.Is one leg day a week enough? ›
Is One Leg Day a Week Enough? You can still hit your legs once a week and make progress. Training them twice a week may well give you faster results, but one leg workout a week is still enough to make your quads and hamstrings bigger.What is a good 5 day workout routine? ›
Best 5 Day Workout Schedule:
Day 1: Chest + (Light) Triceps. Day 2: Back + (Light) Biceps. Day 3: Core + Forearms + Calves + Cardio. Day 4: Shoulders + (Heavy) Triceps.
- Exercises for bigger muscles should come before exercises for smaller muscles. Examples: Chest or back before shoulders, biceps or triceps. ...
- Compound exercises should come before isolation exercises. ...
- Free weight/body weight exercises should come before machines.
- Monday: Chest and triceps.
- Tuesday: Back and biceps.
- Wednesday: Legs and shoulders.
- Thursday: Rest.
- Friday: Chest and triceps.
- Saturday: Back and biceps.
- Sunday: Legs and shoulders.
- Chest and Back.
- Quads and Hamstrings.
- Biceps, Triceps, and Shoulders.
- Glutes and Abdominals.
While seeing results from working out heavily depends on the person and their current level of fitness, "My [clients] generally see initial changes within four to six weeks, and actual results within eight to 12 weeks," Wilson explains.
According to these recommendations, beginner exercisers should work up to three to four 40-minute gym sessions per week. If that doesn't seem realistic, remember, completing a 15-minute workout is better than skipping a 40-minute workout entirely.What gym classes are best for beginners? ›
- Spin class.
For most beginners, three times a week is perfect—you'll give your muscles, ligaments, and tendons ample time between each workout to recover, grow, and get stronger.Is working out 6 days a week too much for a beginner? ›
It's probably going to overload your body and could very well lead to an injury. You are better off with a low intensity workout routine that provides you with enough time to recuperate and heal. Maybe 3-4 days a week. That depends on your body conditioning, age and goals.Can I work out 6 days a week as a beginner? ›
Training 6 days a week is fine, as long as your spread volume out over the course of the week. for example, in a typical bro split (destroy each body part once a week - not the best way to train by the way) you may hit each muscle group for 20–24 sets in a workout.How many rest days should a beginner have? ›
How Often Should I Rest? If you are starting out with a new exercise program or are a beginner exerciser, rest every third day (that is, exercise two consecutive days and rest the third). More experienced exercisers should remain inactive or take an active recovery day once a week.Can beginners overtrain? ›
Most people don't put in enough time, effort, or intensity to put themselves into a state of overtraining. Most people simply don't recover well enough. There is no such thing as overtraining.How should a beginner start working out? ›
Start slowly and build up gradually.
Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time you exercise.
A rest day is a day in which a person takes a break from their regular workout routine. Rest days are an important part of any exercise program. They give the body a chance to repair and recover, and help to prevent injury. A person should plan to have at least one rest day every 7–10 days.What does a bro split look like? ›
A “bro split” refers to any workout routine (or “split”) that trains different body parts (or muscle groups) on different days. For instance, training arms one day, chest another, shoulders another, and so on.
Beginners might find that the 6-day split is too intense, however, and may not be well suited for novice bodybuilders. Without an existing muscle base and experience performing a wide range of exercises, using weights, bodyweight exercises, and resistance bands, the 6-day split will be difficult.What is the best gym schedule? ›
If you want to work out five days per week and are working on both strength and cardiovascular fitness, try three days of strength training, two days of cardio, and two days of active rest. If you want to work out four days a week, think about your goals: If you want to add muscle, cut a cardio day.Can you change your body shape in 6 weeks? ›
And if you exercise regularly, over time you will gain even more fitness benefits. “At 6 to 8 weeks, you can definitely notice some changes,” said Logie, “and in 3 to 4 months you can do a pretty good overhaul to your health and fitness.” Strength-specific results take about the same amount of time.