How Often Should You Workout?
Working out should be a part of your lifestyle if you want a better quality of life and how often you workout isn’t a black and white answer. It depends on many factors including the following: how many hours you work, whether you have kids or not, whether you travel or not, whether you have a girlfriend or wife or not, commute time and amount of experience with resistance training. This all has to be considered when you are deciding how often to workout every week. After all, long term sustainability is what you should be striving for with your health and fitness.
Lets firstly consider your current circumstances. If you work more hours than most people, travel a lot, have kids, have a partner and you have to commute to the gym then you have to be very thoughtful when deciding how often you can go to the gym. I notice a lot on Twitter guys who are going to the gym four or five times per week, sometimes even six, hitting it hard at the moment but when I ask them what else is going on in their lives and they reply I think straight away, “You’re not going to sustain that routine for long man”. I don’t say it because it will frustrate these guys and it’s not worth the time and energy arguing with a stranger on Twitter, but it’s the truth.
You have to think long term. You might have one or two weeks right now where you have more spare time than usual. Don’t let this additional spare time tempt you into hitting the gym hard for a week leading to you becoming impatient and trying to keep this up in the following weeks after. It’s all driven by a lack of patience and wanting the results now. Don’t be this guy. Not only will your chances of failure increase but you will also damage the quality of your relationships with loved ones and lose momentum in your work life.
So how does a guy who works full-time, has kids, travels, has a partner and has to commute to the gym make sure he follows a resistance workout program that allows him to stay consistent for the rest of his life and get massive success with his results?
He does full-body workouts. Full-body workouts allow you to train your entire body which by definition means you will spend less time in the gym every week without sacrificing your progress. It is the ultimate solution if you are a busy guy who values his health and wellness but is struggling to come up with the right strategy. Now, with full-body workouts, this doesn’t mean that you need to do every exercise in the gym. You don’t need to be doing a different exercise for every muscle. That would be crazy and your workouts would quickly go from being thirty to forty-five-minute workouts to two hours or longer. It means quite the opposite. It means that you can do fewer exercises in your workouts.
There are two types of exercises: compound and isolation exercises. Compound exercises are those exercises that train multiple muscles simultaneously in one movement whereas isolation exercises are those exercises that train one muscle only during one movement. It’s clear which type of exercise you should be doing if you’re busy; compound exercises. By doing workouts that contain purely compound exercises you will save yourself time, stress and energy. You’re a guy who works full-time, you have a partner you love dearly, you have kids you want to spend time with and you have a career you want to be successful with…you’ve got to focus on compound exercises. They are your lifeline. They are your savior and they’ll make staying consistent with your workout routine so much easier.
By doing full-body workouts this means that you don’t need to do any more than two to three full-body workouts. This is enough to train your body effectively without sacrificing progress. Every muscle is being trained in a single workout so by the time you have done two workouts you have already trained each muscle two times that week. This is exactly where guys like you go wrong who are busy and follow other routines, for example, an upper-lower routine where you are training your upper body twice per week and your lower body twice per week totaling four workouts. You’ve trained each muscle twice per week but you’ve achieved that after four workouts rather than with two or three workouts if you were to follow a full-body workout routine.
The same applies to guys who try to follow push pull leg routines (PPL) six times per week. This is insane if you have any of the commitments above and it isn’t necessary to get the results you want. Yes, you might be training each muscle two times per week, but it’s taking six workouts to achieve that rather than two or three. If you follow a PPL workout routine but only go three times per week, you’re still not getting the most out of your time. You’re only training each muscle once per week and those three workouts could be turned into full-body workouts where you’re training each muscle an impressive three times per week. Be wise with your time. Follow a full-body workout routine.
By following a full-body workout routine you will find it so much easier for you to stay consistent long term. This is what matters; the long term results. The long term game plan. The workout split that will make it easier for you to keep showing up to the gym no matter what’s going on with your career, your partner or your kids. When life hits you in the face, full-body workouts will always be there to keep you progressing. But what if you’re a guy who has more time? What if fewer, or none, of the commitments mentioned above, apply to you and your life? If that’s the case then you do have a bit more freedom. This doesn’t mean that you should go crazy and hit the gym every day. You just have to answer a few key questions.
Firstly, you need to be honest with yourself and answer truthfully how much experience you have with resistance training. If you have less than three years of experience with resistance training then you are still pretty new to training. If you fall into this range you are either a complete beginner or you’re more of an intermediate assuming you’ve stayed consistent during these three years with various workout routines. You will benefit the most from following a full-body workout routine for reasons that are different from those mentioned above for busier guys. Less experienced trainees have much slower recovery rates than more experienced trainees therefore you should follow a full-body workout routine for one reason: faster recovery. Because you are training each muscle two or three times per week, this means you are stimulating the muscle gaining process more often which means your body adapts much more quickly compared to other workout routines. As a beginner/intermediate if you can speed up your recovery rate you will see massive results in less time.
If you’ve been training for longer than three years and you don’t have too many commitments then you could transition into an upper lower workout routine where you’re training four times per week. This would allow you to focus more on certain areas but only follow an upper lower workout routine if you can stick to it. Remember, long term sustainability is the most important part of fitness. You must make a decision that is based on this.
Secondly, you need to know what you want. Once you answer that question you can then work backward and go from there. It might be more strength, it might be more muscle mass or it might be definition and looking toned but whatever it is, you have to be honest with yourself and know exactly what it is you want. Thirdly, you need to know what your life will look like for the next three months. Are you going on holiday? Are you moving house? Are you starting a new venture? Are you studying for some exams? You have to answer these questions because then you can understand what you can achieve in the next three months. Based on my experience with my existing and previous clients three months is enough time for you to experience significant results with your health and fitness so if you gain clarity over what your life looks like for the next three months you can make giant leaps in progress instead of tiny steps.
Once you’ve answered these three questions then you know exactly how often you can go to the gym per week and what you can sustain for the next three months in your life. You’ll stay consistent, you’ll stress less and you’ll achieve better results.