“How often should I exercise?” is one of the most common questions I, and probably all other trainers, get asked by clients.
The NHS does offer guidelines for anybody aged between 19-64, focusing on time and intensity rather than a set amount of days per week, for example 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity alongside strength training targeting all main muscle groups.
However, without knowing the end goal, it is really difficult to calculate how often someone should be training. A client's goal could be weight/fat loss, general fitness, building muscle or even sports specific, which strongly influences the frequency and type of training I would prescribe.
Ultimately, my suggestion for any client would be at least two or three times per week.
When people go to the gym by themselves or with friends they may not be totally efficient with their time. How much time do these people spend actually training, and not sat on their phones? Are they performing relevant exercises? How hard do they train? How much time do they spend getting the perfect selfie for Instagram? These are all contributing factors that affect your training, and without the right motivation, it can turn into more of a social visit.
Clients are also often limited by lack of knowledge, rather than dedication, time or drive. I have clients who come to me for their PT sessions and the workload they achieve within a sixty minute session can be up to three or four times what they’d achieve by themselves, due to extra knowledge and guidance, as well as increased motivation.
So going back to my original question of how often should you exercise. Although I would say two to three times per week minimum, it is essential that your training is efficient and effective.
Some people like to have three days on, one day off, which can work well, depending on the individual, but it doesn’t factor in a seven day weekly routine. Others use the five days on, two days off, which does accommodate the week.
What I’m trying to say is that it is important to exercise, but you know your body better than anyone else so if you feel tired, lethargic and struggling after too many training days than chances are you need a rest.
The key thing to take from this is that exercise and training should not be seen as a chore regardless of how tiring and tough it can be. If getting up and going to the gym does feel like that it may be a sign that you need to change up your style of exercise. Things such as group training or classes are a good way to keep things interesting. Training should be rewarding and efficient, and you will soon see the results.