It’s a question I ponder virtually all week, and maybe you’ve mulled it over as well: how often should I go to the gym? Is one time enough? Is five times too much? What if I’m just getting back into the swing of exercising? What if I’m not feeling motivated or am just bored with my usual gym routine?
I checked in with an expert — Rae Reichlin, founder of Ladies Who Lift — to gain a bit of insight.
How many times should one work out each week?
Reichlin’s answer: “It depends.”
“At a minimum, I would urge my own clients to try to get into the gym at least two times a week,” she said. It’s enough to ensure exercise is a regular part of your routine, though it likely won’t result in any big physique changes.
What’s the maximum amount I should work out in a week?
As far as a maximum, Reichlin said people should keep it to no more than five workouts each week — maybe six, under specific circumstances. After all, there are dangers that come with too much exercise.
“Whether you’re hooked for the health benefits, the accomplished feeling you get afterwards, the weight loss, the strength gains, or it has just become a part of your daily schedule, sometimes knowing when to NOT work out and when TO REST can be the hardest part of all,” Reichlin said.
Taking time to rest is key to helping your body build muscle. Instead of thinking of yourself as lazy when you’re not exercising, reframe your thinking and view rest days as a time for growth, Reichlin suggested. After all, you don’t have to — and shouldn’t — sit around doing nothing on your rest days. You should still stay active by walking or stretching.
Let where you are in your fitness journey be your guide
Overall, when contemplating the weekly exercise frequency that’s best for you, Reichlin recommended thinking about where you are in your fitness journey. For instance, if you’re just beginning to hit the gym, try to ease into it with two or three workouts weekly. Your goals, whether mileage-based or weight-based, are also crucial in determining your schedule. Be prepared to spend more time exercising as you work to reach your aims.
Even after you figure out how many exercise days per week are right for you, it can be hard to find motivation to actually get up and go. To tackle this, Reichlin proposed going to the gym with a friend or hiring a trainer.
She also had some tips for when your usual fitness routine gets stale. Consider working with a personal trainer or going to workouts at various studios. ClassPass can also allow you to mix it up, as can finding trustworthy fitness instructors on Instagram and trying the workouts they post. Additionally, there are plenty of apps out there (including the SweatWorking app!) that let users try new workouts.