Hey there! I’m Brett McNeil, the fitness consultant for FitMinutes. Throughout the month, I’ll be answering questions from our readers. This week, we’re talking weekly workout routines. Read on to find out how many days a week you should be working out, and what a balanced workout routine looks like.
Q: How many days a week should I be working out?
A: Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for this question. Just like with diets, a one-size-fits-all answer doesn’t make sense for everyone. You didn’t come to this article expecting it to be that easy, did you?! This answer completely depends on your goals and how active you currently are. For example, let’s say you are completely inactive at this point in your life. Two days a week is probably going to give you some results early on, and you will slowly need to add more days in per week. If you’re already active, but looking to ramp up your current fitness level, four to five days will be the best option and will eventually be the best option for newer people as they get more comfortable with training. Rest days should be thought of as active recovery days. You still want to move on those days. Going for a walk, paddle boarding, kayaking or any other light exercises that can be done outside of the gym are great options. Anything to keep you moving.
Q: How do I build a healthy workout routine?
A: Make sure you’re incorporating different aspects of fitness into your training routine. Aim for a healthy mix of cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises. If you’re worried about becoming too bulky with strength training, don’t be. By lifting weights, you increase your metabolic rate, which in turn allows your body to burn more calories even when you aren’t in the gym. Another added advantage to weight training is that it strengthens your joints and bones when done properly.
Q: How important is cardio?
A: Big time. Cardio is an important part of a healthy and balanced workout but its benefits spill out of the gym and into your everyday life. It keeps your endurance at an optimal level, which is important for the most simple daily life tasks, such as carrying the groceries in from the car or pushing the twins around in a stroller. When most people think of cardio, they quickly think about the classics, like running long distances or spending time on an elliptical. Cardio can be done with just about anything, as long as it’s getting your heart rate up. If you’re not a fan of the treadmill, you can use weights or a kettlebell. You can also perform bodyweight movements or include some lighter weights with a barbell or dumbbell. The key is to perform a lot of reps in a certain amount of time to keep that heart rate up. A good workout routine should include a mix of longer cardio workouts ranging from 45-60 minutes, a HIIT type training and interval training. Tabata, which includes 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds, is a great interval training option.
Q: How many days a week should I be strength training? How about cardio?
A: Aim to do 2-3 strength training days and 2-3 cardio training days per week, depending on our goals. If you’re looking to put on some size, keep the cardio days to 1-2 times a week and focus at least 3 days a week on strength training. On the flip side, if you’re looking to improve your endurance, focus more on that and keep strength training between 1-2 days. If your goals are to get into better shape, you can’t avoid strength training and you can’t avoid cardio. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t just spend 5 days a week on the treadmill or elliptical and ignore strength training. You’ll be missing out on a key component to losing that weight. Same goes for if you’re trying to put on some muscle. Sure, you shouldn’t be doing a ton of cardio because that may contradict your strength training, but cardio still needs to be included in your training plan.
Have a health or fitness related question for me? Or just want to say hey? Reach out in the comments below! Want more workout advice? Check out our posts on training.