How Often Should You Work Out?

I’m often asked by clients how often they should work out. Although I’ll give you the facts below, it will take more than just knowing how much you should exercise. It’s a matter of setting a schedule and sticking to it.

It is recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to strive for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for good health. Or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Then on top of that they recommend you throw in some strength training twice a week.

But what is moderate exercise? It means that at the end of 7 days, you should have logged 2.5 hours of exercise that didn’t involve a lot of labored breathing. Moderate exercise includes mowing the lawn, brisk walking or taking a leisurely bike ride.

Vigorous exercise refers to running, taking spin class, or participating in an outdoor boot camp. You know you are involved in vigorous exercise if your heart rate is up and there are periods where you may have to stop and catch your breath. For good health, get that heart rate up 1.25 hours a week.

The confusing part lies in the strength training. HHS has not specified how long you should strength train for. Ugh, how confusing. Let’s get back to that.

If you are looking to feel better and live more healthfully, this is a great place to start. If you are going from doing nothing but sitting on the couch and eating Doritos’s, this plan is perfect. Go forth and feel the benefits of getting off your buns!


Weight Loss

If you are looking to lose weight, you’ll have to up those times just a little bit. In fact, you need to double them. To lose weight, you should shoot for 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate activity and/or 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of vigorous activity. Strength training will remain at 2 times per week.

Strength Training

The easiest way to maximize your time is to incorporate strength training into your cardio. Boot camps, High Intensity Interval Training programs such as CrossFit, and Tabata, and even Curves Workout Centers combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise. Simply going from one strength exercise to another, without rest, will do it. Or, you can throw in some cardio sets between your strength moves. For instance, 15 chest presses, 25 jumping jacks, 15 bicep curls, 25 jumping jacks. Rest, repeat.

How to Create a Workout Schedule

As I’ve harped on before, one of the most effective ways to stick to your fitness goals is to set a schedule. The schedule is set in stone. Don’t skip this date, your body will be very upset with you.

Another effective way to stick to your goal is to set small incremental goals. There is nothing in the recommended guidelines about how often per day you should work out. It’s all about how much you have logged in 7 days. So take a look at your schedule and decide what works for you.

If you can get in 30 minutes a day, every day, start with that. If you can only work out 3 times a week, shoot for 3, hour-long classes to sign up for. Gradually increase that time if you need to lose weight or you have hit a plateau.

Here is an example of a weight loss workout schedule you can incorporate into your life TODAY:

That’s 5.25 hours of exercise. And on Wednesday and Friday, I was only able to squeeze in 20 minutes a piece. On Sunday, I gave myself a much needed break. If you put it on the schedule in this manner, it becomes much less daunting.

Now go. Go make your workout schedule. Start small. Give yourself a day off. As long as you are CONSISTENT, you will see results. Have fun!