How Many Days A Week Should I Work Out?
How many days a week should I work out?
While we all love to hear that we burn 130 calories an hour while sitting on the couch watching Get Organized With The Home Edit on Netflix, we also all know that we’ve got to be better than that.
So, how many days a week should I work out?
It’s logical to think that going to the gym twice as much will yield twice the results, right?
Don’t be so sure.
We dig into the science, research papers, and compare the dozens of fitness programs we’ve done in the past to share the facts.
how many days a week should i work out?
The answer is not one-size-fits-all and changes based on your goals. Are you after weight loss, muscle gain, creating a sustainable fitness routine, or winning the Leadville Trail 100 ultramarathon?
For the time being, let’s ignore all of these factors and go straight to the research.
According To Science
In an interesting study out of the University of Oklahoma, Stillwater, twenty-eight fit, young men worked out either 3-days or 6-days a week for six weeks.
Each of their workouts varied by intensity but included traditional strength training exercises like bench presses, deadlifts, and squats. At the end of the study, each man tested his powerlifting gains and fat-free mass.
The findings showed that it didn’t matter if the men trained 3 or 6 days a week. Instead, the most important factor was the volume and intensity of each workout.
This means that low-intensity workouts every day mean diddly-squat against well-structured, intense workouts just 2-3 days a week!
These findings are further corroborated in various other studies like, ‘High-Frequency Resistance Training Is Not More Effective Than Low-Frequency Resistance Training in Increasing Muscle Mass and Strength in Well-Trained Men,’ and, ‘A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development.’
This last study sums up their results by recommending ‘training programs designed to optimize the effort to benefit ratio.’
Their team at Arizona State University, Mesa recommends high-intensity workouts 2-days a week for ‘trained individuals’ and 3-days a week for ‘untrained individuals.’
So, with all of this research, what does it all mean? What is the definitive answer to how many days a week should I work out? And how do you know if your workout routine has enough intensity and volume?
According To Experience
Based on our experiences working with thousands of clients, our own results, and the scores of workout programs we’ve done, we recommend building up to a full-body fitness routine for four days a week.
Here’s a general program we follow, to give you an idea:
Monday – Chest/Triceps with Core (strength training and cardio/HIIT mix)
Tuesday – Back/Biceps with Core (strength training/weightlifting)
Thursday – Shoulders with Core (strength training/weightlifting)
Friday – Legs with Core (cardio/HIIT)
Complicated? Not when you get the hang of it and all of the free programs we’ve created (including the Couple’s Workout Routine) already incorporate these elements.
The off-days shouldn’t be “cheat” days, but active recovery days where you focus on stretching or active hobbies like dancing and jogging. Our Couple’s Yoga Flow Routine is perfect for these days.
Notice that we work more than the 2 days recommended for ‘trained individuals.’ Frankly, while we believe in the science, we don’t fully believe in the psychology. And you need both. Plus, we like to keep our workouts short to 30-45 minutes a day.
Keeping up momentum, feeling energized, and being in a routine are also powerful components to a workout program. Plus, we find that on the days we work out, our nutrition is better.
So, we found our sweet spot at strength training each part of our upper and lower bodies weekly over four days, and allowing our bodies ample recovery (and muscle growth) days.
Does that mean you shouldn't work out every day?
For the people with specific fitness and competition goals, you may feel like you want to work out more often. Depending on your goal, the science doesn’t support that working out 7-days a week will give you better results than 4-days a week.
However, with enough variation, periodization, cross-training, and recovery, there’s nothing wrong with staying active every day.
Experiment for yourself to find your best ‘effort to benefit ratio.’ And don’t forget to track your progress with our free Fitness Tracking Body Measurement Chart downloadable PDF.
What if working out four days a week is too daunting?
We all start from somewhere, and even getting in movement every day helps. Better habits and building your routine might be a big enough goal for you today. There’s nothing wrong with that!
One great place to start is with Couple’s Clean Week, where we guide you and your partner, day-by-day, on kickstarting a healthy lifestyle.
At the very least, try to log 150 minutes of activity a week — the standard recommended in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans by the Department of Health.
This includes the daily mindless movement you can incorporate into your day. So take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a walk during your lunch break.
Those 130 calories from sitting on the couch while watching Netflix still don’t count!
I have questions. What do I do?
Want more tips on how to get started with a structured plan? Leave a comment or question below and we’ll help let you in on the secrets that have kept us working out for years.
We’ll give you a hint. According to our experimentation, Beachbody On Demand provides the most effective programs.
8-Week Bodyweight Workout Plan
Download and instantly access the 8-week bodyweight exercise program including the following.
- Videos of the of 70 best upper body, lower body, core and total-body cardio exercises with professional instruction to ensure proper form.
- An 8-week workout calendar and rep tracker sheet with built-in variety and periodization.
- A program guide built for your current fitness level: beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
- Access to all future revisions to the program.
Plus, we're always here for support.
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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