How Often Should I Workout?
Whilst reading over on femalefitnessblog.com I came across an entry regarding frequency of workouts which I found an interesting topic. The entry basically outlines how many times per week we should workout for maximum results, and portrayed this point by comparing how often we workout with the report card we often brought back from school. An interesting point, with the author outlining that working out, with weights two times per week, with the addition of cardio and flexibility work three times per week is like getting a “C” on your report card, i.e. just passing. Getting an A+ however, according to the author, requires strength training 3-4 times per week and cardio/flexibility 6-7 times per week. Is the frequency of workouts really structured in such a manner?
The how often do I need to exercise to see results topic outlines a “more equals more” and “less equals less” approach to weight training and fitness training. Whilst many would agree with this, it is a very simplistic belief and one which does not take into account a number of variable factors which impact on improving fitness. Below are some important factors which the topic does not mention when it comes to how often we should workout for maximum results.
Sustainability – Not everyone has the time or the willpower, especially when embarking on fitness training, to train with weights for 4 times per week and perform cardio and flexibility work every single day. Placing workout frequency into school marking style categories may alienate people, when in fact any form of exercise should be encouraged. A game of tennis at the weekend, cycling to work, taking the stairs when at work instead of the elevator, are all steps which people can take on a daily basis, and most importantly, stick to. Going from a take away eating couch potato to someone who prepares fresh meals and goes to their favourite dance class three times per week deserves and A+ in my book, not a measly pass grade!
Its not all about the workouts – Focusing purely on the fitness training whilst not covering other lifestyle factors can lead to less than optimal results. Working out three times per week with a first class diet beats training every day whilst consuming high fat and salt content microwave meals.
We need to know our destination to plan our journey – A bodybuilder, or someone who is focused on muscle building, is going to have to follow a different regime than someone focused on improving overall fitness. Bodybuilding often requires more focus on resistance training with a high importance on diet to ensure muscle hypertrophy (growth) occurs, whilst someone who is trying to improve overall fitness will opt for a more balanced approach to training. Training for overall fitness requires improving strength, power, endurance, flexibility, agility, balance, cardiovascular ability, and so on. Therefore the number of days spent weight training, or performing cardiovascular activities will depend greatly on goals.
Can workout frequency be set in stone? – While the topic serves as a generalisation, not everyone will benefit from the same workout frequencies, and therefore the outlined A+ may not prove to be an A+ for everybody reading the topic. Recovery rates and adaptation can vary from person to person, with diet, rest, stress levels and other factors playing a role in the optimal workout schedule for each individual.
This is not intended as any form of attack on the author of the piece in question, it is simply an alternative view point to the question of “How often Should I workout?”, which is a common question within the fitness communities. I would love to hear others thoughts on this topic!