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How Many Days A Week Should You Workout?

Woman lifting barbell

Does getting in shape mean going to the gym every day?

I’m going to give you some easy-to-follow information that will help you determine the answer that works best for you.

THEN, I’ll outline exactly how you can program your workouts based on your answer.

The Normal Answer

A common guideline says to shoot for a minimum total of two and a half hours of exercise every week.

But exercise is not created equal.

Walking 30 minutes is not the same as 30 minutes of sprints. And jogging for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, will affect your body differently than jogging once for two and a half hours.

So the number of days a week depends on the type and amount of exercise you do.

But there are other things to consider, too, such as your goals, age, body type, and occupation, to name a few.

Confused yet?

To me, this is such a backwards way of going about it.

My Answer

One of the first and most important things I ask my one-on-one coaching clients is, “How many days a week would you like to workout?” Meaning: how many days a week will you realistically work out, on a regular basis, for the foreseeable future?

I normally suggest a minimum of 3 days a week. So if you’re looking for a minimum, that’s mine. But your goal shouldn’t be to automatically pick the minimum number of days. You might be more likely to stick to a habit of 6 short workouts a week. Or maybe you work well with a structured work week and want to fit it in your Mon.-Fri. routine.

Everyone’s schedule and priorities are different, and that’s ok.

Which is why I say, don’t shoot for an arbitrary number of days and try to force it. Figure out what will work for you, then base your workouts on that non-arbitrary number.

How To Pick

Whether you want to get in better shape, lose weight, and/or get stronger, you need to find time for some form of resistance training (like weight lifting) and some form of cardio.

What I recommend is either 3 days a week of a decent workload, or 6 days a week of a light workload, or something in between. You can get the same great results regardless of what you pick.

Let me repeat that. You can get the same great results regardless of what you pick.

Any less than 3 days might give you certain benefits, but it’s not going to give you the overall results you want. An exception to this might be doing two days a week, but focusing on your diet and being really strict about it.

Having a rest day is also important, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to not want one.

That said, here are some ideas on how to structure your workouts based on the number of days you’ve decided will work best for you.

3 Days:

3 Days Exercise Track

4 Days:

4 Days Exercise Track

5 Days:

5 Days Exercise Track

6 Days:

6 Days Exercise Track

Active Recovery

It’s important to let your body recover. It’s also important to be in the habit of doing something every day. So even if you’re only working out 3 days a week, try to schedule 3 or 4 more days of active recovery.

It can be anything from going on a walk to doing yard work, to playing a sport (depending upon the intensity), or really anything that gets your butt out of a sitting position and moving your body beyond your normal daily activity.

Other Considerations

Yes, there are still other factors you can consider, but this is a good starting point.

The important thing to remember is doing more for the sake of feeling like you’re working harder isn’t better. But doing less for the sake of not having to work as hard isn’t better either.

Like most things, moderation is key.

There are far more options than the few I laid out. Just because I didn’t list a specific type of workout plan doesn’t mean it’s bad. Even the options I gave can be rearranged a number of ways to adapt to your schedule. Find what works for you.

Still need help? That’s why we’re here. Send any questions, comments, or concerns my way and I’ll help you out however I can!


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