Workout Frequency and Duration
Let’s not go too crazy on this monster topic...yet.
How often should you workout?
Of course this depends on your goals, the type of training you do, and how much time you have to commit. The simple answer is to workout no less than 2 days per week of total body strength training. The optimal amount is 4 days per week. Anything more requires specific guidelines to ensure you aren’t overtraining, fully recovering, and aren’t working harder than necessary. Pick a frequency that is sustainable for the rest of your life. For comparison, athletes lift 2x/week during the season and 4x/week during the off-season. Some athletes have to workout right after their games (rough).
Recommended Training Schedules
This is what we recommend if you're following our programs. Our schedules are based on getting the most done in the least amount of time, not being inactive for too long, balancing out movements and muscle groups, balancing out life so you don’t spend it all in the gym, and allowing sufficient recovery between workouts.
Note: Lifting more than 4 days a week is difficult to pull off because you may not be allowing enough recovery time between workouts.
How to modify your schedule based on body composition goals:
- Lean (Reduce body fat): Favor Circuits and Conditioning over Upper Body Workouts.
- Gain (Build muscle mass): Favor Upper Body Workouts over Circuits and Conditioning. Why? Because you need every calorie you can get to increase size.
- Maintain (Keep current shape, but improve overall fitness): Alternate Circuits and Upper Body Workouts each week.
Making Your Own Training Schedule
Most people don’t need to overthink their schedule, as long as you make it work for your lifestyle. Ideally you’ll follow our recommended schedule, but you can certainly arrange the workouts to fit your schedule. Switching days for psychological needs is a good reason (e.g. maybe upper body days work better for you at the beginning of the week). It’s ok.
- Pick the number of days you want to workout, schedule it in your calendar, and keep your appointment to workout.
- If you miss a workout, pick up where you left off in the program.
- Total body is priority. It’s ok if you skip an upper body day.
- Make sure you are planning for rest days too. More on rest days later in this lesson.
- Prioritize strength over circuits over conditioning.
60-90 minutes max
Our workouts are around 60 minutes including warmup and cool down, but if you have the time or want more, we provide 90 minutes worth of exercises for each workout. Any amount of time you have to workout is good because you remember consistency beats intensity. If you only have 20-30 minutes to workout then that’s how it is. Research shows that moderate to intense activity over 90 minutes releases cortisol, the stress hormone that causes fat storage along with other negative effects on the body.
Misc Training Schedules
Note: As we mentioned earlier, bodybuilding is not our focus, but we’ve provided some options in case that’s what you enjoy. We are not against it, but as you can see, it requires a lot of days for training that most people don’t have time for. We incorporate elements of bodybuilding into all of our workouts, but our program emphasis is on developing strength, functionality, and overall athleticism in the least amount of time required.
Changes happen at rest. Your body needs time to adapt to the stresses you place on it during a workout. In other words, you must allow time to recover in order to benefit from the training.
More intense workouts such as strength training and sprinting will usually require 1 or more days of rest. If your workouts are too close together, you may not be fully recovered and could be training in a lesser state which can lead to declining results. Why? Because you’re training during a time when your body is below what it is capable of and that’s what your body will adapt to.
Use our schedule as an example of how we space out rest days or you could space our your workouts as Heavy / Light / Heavy / Light, resting when you feel you need it (or if your body is telling you to).
- Intensity: Light (running, conditioning, abs); Moderate (sprinting, competitive sports, strength training); Heavy (strength training). Note: Almost any type of workout can be made intense, but consider how your body is reacting to it. Endurance is not as taxing on the body as resistance.
- Moderate/Heavy days require more rest.
- Heavy days are best when you’re most rested.
- Light days can be done almost every day.
- Try not to train muscles that are already sore.
- If you need a rest day but want to workout, then do light conditioning, mobility, practice technique, abs, or active rest.
- Consider active rest days instead of days off.
Active Rest is light activity outside of the gym including hobbies and playing sports for fun that keeps you active but allows you to recover from more intense workouts.
Some things you can do for active rest are Soft-Tissue Massage, Stretching, Pilates, Yoga, Hiking, Swimming, Golf, Racquetball, Walking, and any type of physical activity you can think of. It doesn’t need to be demanding. The idea is to be able to recover from more intense workouts, but remain active.
How do you know if you’re working out too much?
If you feel like you’re working out too much, just take an extra day or two off or lighten up your workout intensity or duration. Generally, this is only a problem for beginners who go from doing nothing to working out a lot. It's also common with people who enjoy or are obsessed with working out as much as possible. However, it can happen to anyone so here are some common indicators:
- Excessive/constant soreness.
- Decrease in performance - plateaus or diminishing results (not improving or getting worse…more on this soon).
- Fatigue during a workout or throughout the day.
After proper rest, you should surpass your previous performance.