You’ve started going to the gym, or started exercising in some way. You want to get the best results when it comes to weight loss, but you’re not sure about the optimal number of days to exercise. You’ve heard that too much can be a bad thing. You’re not sure how often to work out, and you need some help. In this article on “How often should I work out for weight loss,” we’ve got you covered.
How do I lose weight?
Let’s start with talking about weight loss. The law of thermodynamics states that in order to lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. This is simply consuming less calories than you expend each day. We can achieve this by either eating less, exercising more, or a combination of the two.
The reason why we put on weight in the first place is the opposite – this is called a calorie surplus. We consumed more calories than we expended, which results in stored fat.
How often should I work out each week?
There’s no simple answer. It depends on numerous factors, including your starting position. Initially, most people can lose weight without any exercise at all, unless they’re have a low body fat percentage already. You read that right. None.
This is provided they make changes to their nutrition, which enables them to be in a calorie deficit. We’re not saying we recommend this, as exercising has other benefits (see here), but it is possible. So the answer could be 0 times a week, if you wanted.
For those who want to burn extra calories with exercise, and reap the other benefits above, it depends on your starting position, again. If you’re not exercising at all, you’ll get good results for starting off with 3 workouts a week. This is also a good number to aim for because it is often even to get results, but not too much that you’ll end up hating exercising. This is the last thing we want for you on your weight loss journey.
If you’re currently already doing 3 workouts a week, you may want to increase this to 4 or 5 if possible. If it’s not, and you’re not losing weight, you may want to look at your nutrition to see if any changes can be made here. If you’re exercising anywhere between 3 and 5 times a week, and you’re still not losing weight, the answer lies with your nutrition. You can’t outdo a bad diet, as they say!
What should I do when I work out?
Every day should be either: weight training, cardiovascular work, or a rest day.
Lifting weights is important because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, rows, dips, chin ups, and more, are a good place to start. Increase the weight when you can, so that your body doesn’t adapt, but make sure your form is still good!
Cardiovascular work (such as swimming, running, rowing, classes in the gym, and more) is important because it helps improve cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar, and more. See here for 13 benefits of aerobic exercise.
Rest days are important, so look to plan these around days when it’s going to be more difficult to get to the gym, such as weekends. Rest days help your body recover, but they don’t mean you have to sit on the couch, and do nothing. For example, you could go for a long walk, or try a yoga class.
If you’re exercising 4 times a week, 3 days of weight training, 1 day of running or swimming, and 3 rest days is a good balance. You can adjust accordingly depending on the number of times you’re able to exercise, and perhaps even the length of time you’re able to exercise. You may only be able to get to the gym 2 times a week, but have more time on those days, so you could combine weight lifting with cardio.
Can I exercise too much?
It’s very difficult to. However, we’d always say listen to your body, and take days off when needed. Don’t push it so that you’re slaving away in the gym for hours on end. 3 to 5 hour long sessions a week is enough for nearly everyone, and again, if you’re doing this or more, but not seeing results, the answer lies with your nutrition, and not more exercise.
There’s no simple answer to the question on “How often should I workout?” because it depends on your starting point. If you’re not exercising at the moment, 3 times a week is a good place to start. If you’re exercising some, but not enough, try adding an extra 1 or 2 sessions a week. But, remember: exercise is only a tool to burn extra calories, and for weight loss, it should be used in conjunction with making dietary changes, to ensure you’re in a calorie deficit.
I’m Ravi – a qualified personal trainer and fitness blogger, who teaches people how to transform their bodies and lives through fitness and nutrition. I’m also the CEO of Sports Samurai, an online store selling high quality gym bags and backpacks – you don’t want to miss these, so click the link. Feel free to like us on Facebook here for more articles, tips, and product information.