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For us women, a common question is “how often should I workout?”
There is a good chance that many of us are either over-exercising or not getting enough.
Like with most things, there is no one definite answer to this question as it depends highly on your fitness experience, the amount of time available, and ultimately your personal goals.
The best exercise routine that fits you – and how many days needed – might look different from someone else’s routine.
So…where is the starting point to answer how often should I workout? Keep reading.
The American College of Sports (ACSM) provides a recommendation that we should strive for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. This recommendation is to aid with the health benefits of exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and preventing excessive weight gains.
The first step in answering this question is to know what our end goal is. Are we looking to lose weight, bulk up, enter a competition, or just make my body feel good?
There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to how often one should workout but there are guidelines to help us individualize our answer to this question.
How often should you workout each week?
Depending on your level of being a gym rat, I am going to say that you don’t really want to spend a daily piece of your day in a gym or working out. If you are looking to achieve a healthy body goal in a reasonable amount of time, start with 3 times per week.
Training 4-5 times per week is ideal but this is a large time commitment that may not be achievable. It is better to aim for a goal that is doable and add in extra activities outside of the specific workout like taking the stairs, walking to your car, or standing during meetings.
How long should the workout be?
Research shows that regular physical activity that is 30 minutes or more can be beneficial for health. Plus, knowing you have just a 30-minute workout mentally is doable. Like…this instructor can’t be that bad in just 30 minutes (insert an evil laugh).
What should a workout look like?
A mixture of workouts is best for the body. Think of a well-rounded routine that includes cardio, strength training, and some stretching/flexibility/mobility type training.
One example of a week’s exercise (and this is an example only) includes:
- Cardio – 3 times per week. Try out a 30-minute sweat session three times per week. This could be walking, running, jump rope, or even your favorite dance fitness class
- Strength training – 2 times per week. Add some metal behind those moves to build up your strength. Step away from the cardio machine and head over to the weight section. Try targeting various muscle groups like your arms, legs, back, chest, and even the core.
- Stretching/flexibility/mobility training – 2 times per week. This are more of an active recovery day. It gives the body a chance to rest. This could look like yoga, pilates, a walk, or a stretch session.
My workout schedule (and remember I am a gym rat) leans more heavily on strength training. It is addicting…fair warning.
I have four 30 minute or less strength training sessions and focus on having 2 for upper body and 2 for lower body. I sprinkle in cardio with the dance fitness (hip hop cardio) classes and this usually ends up with 3 sessions per week.
My weakness? Stretching….sigh. I am so bad with this section. My active recovery days usually look more like walking than specific stretching class. What have you found that you love in this category? Tell me and then make me go!
How can I build working out into a habit?
This starts with setting a doable goal. Look at your regular schedule and make a goal based on your availability today. This can change and is not set in concrete for future workouts. But…this gives you a doable schedule right out of the gate and more likely to check it off.
Once you have your schedule mapped out, decided what type of work out you want to do. Is there a class you have been wanting to take? Been curious about the weight section at the gym? Grab a friend and try it out.
And (you totally knew this was coming) highly recommend that you look for ways to increase your movement each day. This could be taking the stairs, parking a little more away from the building and walking in and out, or even doing a few stretches in the morning when you first get up.
What is the best time to workout?
Stop here and ask yourself “when do I feel the most energized?”
For me, the workout needs to be first thing in the morning. The day just gets to me and the last thing I want to do is workout at night.
One quick tip…go be the instructor. Chuckle. YOU will show up for your ladies!
Match up your workout time to when you feel the best can make you more likely to want to stick with it.
What is a good starting point?
If you are new to working out or need to start back up, check out the Badass Mama Gang. This community of amazing women do a monthly challenge that is based on movement.
The goal of the monthly challenge is to help us start moving that gorgeous body each day. They are created to be less than 5 minutes per day and a starting point that is both manageable and effective.
Wrapping this one up
Step 1: Look over your schedule and set a realistic doable goal
Step 2: Decide what type of work out you want to do. Go try something new, crazy, or even a little out of your comfort zone.
Step 3: Grab a friend and take her with you. Having a workout buddy is the best advice I can give anyone.
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