How Many Times a Week Should You Work Out?

How often should you work out?  How many days per week?  How many hours per day?  We’ll go ahead and tell you upfront, this question is one that’s been debated for decades, and the debate isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. However, just because training experts haven’t reached a conclusion, it doesn’t follow that there aren’t smarter ways to approach your workout schedule.

The Magic Number We All Search For

You probably have a gym buddy that’s working out 4-5 times per week and gets very average results. You also probably know a guy who runs a couple times a week and then steps into the gym only on Tuesdays, but is totally ripped. So, what’s the magic number? What’s the formula?

Well, there isn’t one. Workouts are just one part of the equation when it comes to overall health and bodybuilding. Other important factors include getting plenty of rest, eating well, and allowing your body the recovery time that it needs (not whatever the “recommended standard” may be).

Recommended Gym Schedules

If you’re looking for a recommended gym schedule, there’s one basic rule of thumb we suggest. Workout as frequently as your social, family, and professional life will allow. Then, scale back (if applicable) to get the rest and recovery time your body needs.

If, for example, you have few commitments, you might be able to workout 6-7 times per week. However, that’s almost certainly too much for your body. So, scale back to perhaps 4 times per week and 5 times per week, switching your schedule every other week.

If you have a demanding career, three kids, and a healthy marriage, then working out 2-3 times per week might be the most you can put on your plate. Many experts believe that this is enough exercise to put on muscle mass.

Everything Else

Remember, your real question isn’t about the number of workouts. What you’re interested in is results. Because working out isn’t the only way to get muscle mass results (it’s just a piece of the puzzle) it’s important to address some other issues here.

Smoking & Drinking

These two vices will wreck your bodybuilding goals. According to Scott Swartzwelder, Ph.D., smoking puts carbon monoxide in your system, which limits your muscles’ ability to grow and develop. Also, alcohol when consumed with carbs and fat will lead to weight gain due to metabolic impairment, which will cover up the work you’ve done on your muscles – especially your abs.

Sleep

According to the Sleep Foundation, there’s no “magic number” of hours you should sleep. However, most people need at least 7 hours in order for their bodies to get the rest and recovery needed for optimum health.

Eating Well

Everyone has their own opinion these days of what a good diet is. Do some research on your own and talk to your doctor. Generally speaking though, the more whole foods, fruits, and vegetables you can integrate into your diet the better. Avoiding processed foods and fatty foods tends to be just about universally agreed upon!

Sources:

  • http://www.freedomtwentyfive.com/2011/05/getting-ripped-on-two-fifteen-minute-workouts-a-week/
  • http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/hitworkout.htm
  • http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/herve10.htm
  • http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/eliminate_workout_saboteurs/Smoking_and_Drinking.php 
  • http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need 

How often do you workout? What would you change about your workout schedule? Jump into the conversation below!