The magic number in how often should you work out in a week is 5. Exercising only 5 times a week gives you the cardio and strength training you need to stay in shape. Here are some tips to for a minimalist workout week.
How often should you work out?
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for American (2008), every healthy US adult should accumulate 150 minutes or more of moderately intensive aerobic physical activity per week. Assuming you don't carry out moderately intensive aerobic exercise (such as walking, swimming and doing household chores like vacuuming the floor) outside of deliberate exercise that would mean 5 days a week exercising 30 minutes per session. On the other hand, in the case of vigorous aerobic activity (like dance exercise) that means 75 minutes a week. For practical purposes, you may want to combine moderate and vigorous exercise. Although this serves a valuable reference for aerobic exercise, but what if you want to know how often should you do strength training a week?
Avoid strength training on back to back days. That translates into doing strength training exercises at most 2-3 times a week depending on whether you want to leave your weekends open are not. According to www.MayoClinic.com (Article: Weight training: improve your muscular fitness), spending 90 minutes of the day like a gym rat isn't the only factor guaranteeing results from strength training. In fact, performing 20-30 minutes strength training sessions 2-3 times per week in practice differs very little in terms of results from extended daily workouts such as grueling 90 minutes sessions that are bound to only make your sore, which may present a problem when trying to get in aerobic exercise the next day.
How often should you work out a week depends both aerobic activity and strength training.
Aerobic activity: How-to fit 150 minutes of aerobic exercise into your busy routine
The intensity of your aerobic exercise routine affects both how long you are able to sustain continuous exercise and the amount of times you will have to exercise a week to fit 150 minutes of exercise into your routine. What's the difference between moderately intensive cardio exercise and vigorous aerobic activity?
Moderately intensive and vigorous aerobic activity: What's the difference? - Exercise productivity to fit more exercise in fewer minutes spending less time exercising
Moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise is exercises like brisk walking, slow jogging, and bike riding that gives you a maximum heart rate between 50 and 70 percent, which is the target heart rate for moderate-intensive physical exercise (CDC.gov). With moderate intensity exercise that means doing 150 minutes of exercise per week with minimal exercise duration of 10 minutes. However, preferably you are going to want to spend between 20 and 30 minutes per session for enhanced fat burning from exercise.
Vigorous aerobic activity includes exercises like jogging, playing basketball, and breakdancing resulting in heart rate between 70 and 85 percent your maximum heart rate. Vigorous exercise makes you more productive when it comes to exercise helping you spend less time exercising. That means only spend 75 minute a week exercise, which is about 10 minutes a day taking the amount of time you spend warming up.
As you see, the main difference between moderately intensive and vigorous aerobic activity is that doing vigorous aerobic activity requires less time to get the work out you need in a week. The only problem is that it is not meant to be carried out for long periods of time like moderately aerobic exercises. Finding the intersection between taking your time exercising comfortably enough to enjoy the view when the only destination you have is time and running through hurdles fast enough to cause your heart beat to elevate feeling as if someone is running on your chest is a helpful tool to get moderately intensive and vigorous aerobic activity in at the same time.
Daily exercise routine for women: combining moderately intensive and vigorous aerobic physical activity (30 minutes)
- Stretching (5 minutes)
- Moderately intensive aerobic exercise (warm up, 5 minutes)
- Vigorous aerobic exercise (10 minutes)
- Moderately intensive aerobic exercise (cool down, 5 minutes)
- Stretching (5 minutes)
The above daily exercise routine is equivalent to at least 40 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic physical activity. For use in your weekly routine I recommend doing it at most 3 times a week in addition to strength training that will be accounted for separately. Note that doing this routine 3 times per week only gives you 120 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic activity. To make up for this, you are going to want to include 10 minute moderate intense aerobic workout sessions 3 times a week. That means picking a time to get 10 minutes of moderate exercise 3 times per week. For early risers, this is your chance to capitalize on the time you have before eating breakfast possibly throwing in time to stretch. Note that compared to five 30 minute session of moderately intensive cardio exercise, you spend 30 minutes less time exercising.
Example - Daily exercise routine for women: how to combine moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise into a time saving workout (30 minutes, 206 calories)**
- Stretching (5 minutes, 20 calories)
- Jogging (warm up, 5 minutes, 34 calories)
- Rope jumping (10 minutes, 98 calories)
- Walking, 4mph (cool down, 5 minutes, 25 calories)
- Stretching (5 minutes, 20 calories)
** Calories burned during exercise reflect the amount of calories burned by a women weighing 130 pounds between ages 19 and 50. If you weigh more than this that means you burned more calories, which is a good thing.
Now to answer the question of how often should you work out? Let's go over everything all over again.
During the course of the week you are going to have to get both aerobic exercise and strength training into your routine. Assuming you don't do both on the same day that makes 2 days of working out. Only two day! I know you are thinking, "that going to be insane!" It is what it is. Spending 2.5 hours in aerobic followed by 1 hour of heaving lifting isn't a shortcut for getting in shape you want to make. There is no point in trying to rush into fitness. After all, what else are you going to do with 5 days off from working out? - My intuition says that you are going to want to get in some cardio.
However, in order to accumulate the 150 minutes a week off moderately intensive aerobic physical activity you need to keep healthy you need to exercise at least 3 times per week doing cardio. Now we are at a comfortable 4 exercise sessions per week. Depending on your strength training schedule, the days you chose to work on your cardio may be back to back or separated by a day of strength training followed by rest for recovery. With three days remaining to plain your weekly workout routine, you may be thinking that 1 day of strength training isn't enough. You may be right. Luckily enough there is something you can do about it.
There are 3 days of training left. Due to the fact that you already have all the deliberate aerobic exercise you need to stay healthy, that only leaves strength training. In order to avoid overlapping with the subsequent weeks of working out, the maximum amount of days you can spend strength training during this 3 day period is unfortunately only 1 time. Now we are at a 5 exercise sessions per week routine (excluding the 10 minutes work out sessions that or optional if you are a stickler for crossing your Ts' and dotting your Is'), which no matter how you look at it gives you all the cardio and strength training you need to maintain your weight and possibly lose a few pounds while you are at it.