HOW MANY DAYS PER WEEK SHOULD YOU WORKOUT?

I hear this all the time in my assessment with clients, “I want to make fitness part of my lifestyle” or “I want to find something that I can incorporate into my own life so that I don’t keep losing weight and gaining it right back.”

 

I love that goal.

 

But, in order to put things into some perspective and not just make “lifestyle” a word you just throw around I want to give you a glimpse into my life.

I want to show you what my fitness “lifestyle” looks like and how it is I am able to keep around 10% body fat for 20+ years now.

 

I remember the first real workout I ever did and what got me started.  I was sitting in home-room as a freshman in high school and my friend Mike Slocum was talking about bench pressing.

At the time I really didn’t even know what that exercise was (I swear) but I just remembered it peaked my interest because the guys were talking about how much they bench.  Pretty funny right?

 

I went home that day and told my parents I was buying some weight to put in the basement with my paper route money.

Remember these screw on weights anyone?

screw on weights

From there I joined the pole vault team at Iona Prep and our coach Jerry Cahill gave us regimented workout routines to perform 5 days per week in addition to our track practice.  So for four years lets say I worked out 5-6 days per week to begin  my fitness journey.

 

Fast forward to college where I continued as a member of the track team.  That’s another 4 years working out and running aggressively 5 days per week minimum.

Now, if that intimidates you and you can’t relate to that please don’t get discouraged.  We have 12 more years to go and they are very different so keep reading…

At this point it’s the year 2000, I am done with school and I enter the real world with a job in NYC working 9 to 5.  At 5pm I would take the train back to Westchester and hit NYSC on average 5x per week.

Are you starting to see the trend?  We are now approaching 10 years of working out 5 days per week.

 

But those were the easier years.  No real responsibility, no one to worry about but yourself, and no stress about money, work commitments, long hours, etc.

Before I get to the next 10 years I’ll give the answer to the question.

How many days do you need to work out per week to see results?

 

The answer is 4.

 

I am going to introduce something I am calling the 51% rule.

The 51% rule states that if you want to achieve any type of results when working out then you have to do it at LEAST half the time.

Working out 3x per week is less than half the week.

Doing that will get you in the frustrated camp.  The “I work out but I get no results camp.”

 

Can you maintain results working out 3 x per week?  Yes most likely, but your diet is going to have to be on point and that’s a topic for another post.

Making the leap to the 4th day per week is huge in my opinion.  That is where you will start seeing the results from your effort pay off.  I am am also going to say if you workout 4x per week consistently that you have successfully made fitness a part of your lifestyle.

Check out this chart below which shows you how many days you would work out per year by sticking to your weekly regimen.

training frequency

That 4th workout gets you over the hump into working out more than half the week.  It gets you to 200 workouts per year.  That’s pretty hard core.  It’s a great new years resolution.  Instead of saying you want to start working out more this next year, make your goal 200 workouts instead and start counting down from there.  When February hits, you’ll see you still have a long way to go and won’t give up so easily.

 

Getting back to the next 10 years, the ones filled with obligations, no time, kids, work and excuses.

The decision to make fitness a lifestyle isn’t a miserable one we “lifestylers” all make.  It’s a pleasure, an addiction almost that you don’t want to give up.  It comes not just by going through the motions but by getting results.

It’s not the act of fitness I am after but the constant result I get from experimenting with my body in different ways and seeing it pay off time and again.

 

So do I work out 5 days every week?  No.

Do I take breaks?  Yes.

Do I enjoy it? 90% of the time.

I do workout 4-5 times per week.  When I go on vacation I don’t work out.  That is my relax time.  Every summer I take off for about two weeks and do nothing and get in a little more relax time.

Other than that I am working out.  The only other things that will prevent me from getting in my 4-5 is getting sick and injures.  The longest stretch I would say I have gone without working out would be 5 months.  That is when I tore my pec and had to get surgery.

 

In conclusion, do you have to workout 5 times per week for 20 years to get to your goal?

No.  You can achieve your goal in a very short time frame.

But if you want to KEEP your gains, if you want to make fitness your LIFESTYLE than this is the level of commitment and enjoyment it has been for me over the past 20 years of my life and training.  Take from that what you wish 🙂

 

For those of you who want to get started but don’t know how.

I want to keep things simple and give you an actionable item to go ahead and start implementing.

Start working out 4 times per week for 60 minutes.

That’s it.

Don’t worry about anything else.  There is much more we can talk about as you get going but the first thing you need to do is get up and get moving.

At the bottom of this post I am going to share 7 workouts you can do at home so that you can get started.  You can use that as your starter directions.

If you have any questions post them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to clarify anything you need.

 

Here are some tips to set you up for success if you are just getting started.

 

1-  Plan your 4 workouts for the week.  NOW.   If you don’t use a calendar get google calendar right now.  It’s free.  Just block off the hours when you are at work and when you are going to train for 60 minutes 4 times during the week.  That’s a start.

 

2-  Get a workout buddy.  How?  Share this article and tell your friend to download the 7 day workout guide so you both have it.  Then meet up and do them.  Simple.

 

3-  Don’t think everything has to be perfect.  Just get started.  You don’t need to know what all your workouts are, all your meals prepped and everything 100% planned.  We’ll get to all of that.  The instruction for now is move your body for 60 minutes 4 times this week.  That’s it.  We’ll get more specific as you start seeing results.

 

4-  On the days you lack motivation and don’t want to workout just put your sneakers on.  That’s it.  Get up off the couch put your sneakers on and then get back on the couch if you really want to.  (my tips in the p.s. below will clarify)

 

Remember it’s the results that keep you going.  Nothing else.  Everything I am saying is to help you make strides towards a result, NOT frustration.

Making fitness a lifestyle is making a game out of it to constantly change and achieve the results you want to see out of it.  It is not a hamster running on a wheel for the sake of saying your worked out.

If this was helpful please let me know in the comments below.  I have more topics we can discuss so please post away and let me know your thoughts, struggles and concerns.

 

P.S.  I am going to talk real and not BS you.  You know that whole thing people say about just get up and workout for 10 minutes because it’s better than nothing?  Or just start small because blah blah blah…

Listen, if you want a sure fire way to get frustrated just work out for 10 minutes a few times per week for a month.  When you see absolutely no change in your body 1 month later you’ll just give up.

The workouts I attached can be done be done in 10-20 minutes.  Pair a few of them with a 30 minute run or walk to get to 60 minutes, or do 2 of them back to back.

On the days you don’t feel like working out, THEN you have my blessing to just get it in for 10 minutes.  That is when I’ll say it is better than nothing.  I’d be willing to say that once your going you won’t stop at minute 10 though 😉

 

P.S.S.  Ideally my workout week includes 5 days per week.  Either 3 weight training and 2 HIIT days or 2 weight training and 3 HIIT days depending on whether I am looking to lose fat or gain muscle.  More on that in another post though.

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Showing 6 comments
  • Melissa LaPietra
    Reply

    As a person with a chronic pain condition, I was at one point at risk for atrophy. As the CEO of my own healthcare, I refused to accept I that I was powerless. I did my research, learned what steps I could take to help improve my condition, and did just that. Diet Coke was my downfall and a major contributor to how I was physically feeling. I gave it up cold turkey. Actually, I gave up on ALL sodas. Next Feb will be 5 years! Once I started feeling better, I started power walking, and eventually was taken off pain medications. Am I still in pain? Yes! But I have learned how to push through, how to modify, and how to inspire myself to keep moving. Stress is a detrimental factor to anyone and everyone but more so for someone with chronic pain. I am finding that my workouts although tough, are doing wonders and giving me a tremendous amount of hope. I am so grateful that you (Paul) did not let me slip away! Cheers!

    • Paul
      Reply

      Thats inspiring Melissa ty for posting. How have you been?

  • Jenna Lennox
    Reply

    Paul that was beautifully written!!!

  • Ebony Alexander
    Reply

    This is fantastic. Thank you so much for writing it and for being candid. Committing to working out has been the #1 challenge in my healthy lifestyle quest. This article challenges me and inspires me. I can do it. And I will. I’m hype!

    • paul
      Reply

      I am glad you are making headway towards your #1 challenge. That;s a valiant goal to tackle and I look forward towards seeing your results Ebony 🙂

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