I get asked this question a lot both by folks coming to the gym for the first time to start our kickstart program, as well as long-time members who have been coming for years: How often should I workout to reach my goals?
The answer? It depends.
It depends on your goals, your age, your schedule, and your nutrition as to how you should answer the question ‘How Often Should I workout?’
Let’s run down the list and understand how your goals should dictate how often you show up for class at Capacity. Someone who is training for life vs. training for a marathon will have different training needs and that’s ok. We have members who show up twice a week, work their butts off, have a blast, and get some great results because they’re training to be happy, healthy, and it compliments their other days of running and cycling.
On the other side of the coin, we have members who are training for serious athletic competition who come to class religiously 5-6 times per week, never missing a session. For those folks, they are seeking to drive physical adaptation by their body’s aerobic and muscular systems. They need to frequent workout stimulation so that they can get faster and stronger. For them, it makes sense to show up almost every day.
What about age? If someone is 45, should they come in the same amount as someone who’s 25, or maybe 65? Again, it depends on a few factors. What has the member been doing up until that point? Do they have health problems that limit their physical activity and require additional ample recovery? I would suggest that nearly everyone who walks through our gym garage doors is capable of more than they typically imagine, but that doesn’t mean that injury needs to be a regular part of their routine, as it can be at many other functional fitness gyms.
For those that are younger, it’s easier to bounce back from working out every day because the soreness may not be there and they can consume more calories without worrying whether their metabolism is 100% rocking and rolling. Heck, someone who’s 25 may even do two-a-day workouts here and there with a busy schedule and feel OK. That’s great! However, they still ask the question of ‘how often should I workout’ quite frequently.
For someone who’s 45 with a busy schedule, kids, and old injuries from other sports, working out everyday may not be a reality. But you know what? It doesn’t mean they can’t feel good and reach their goals by working out 3-4 times per week. It takes a little more effort and care away from the gym. That’s right, I said they need to work harder outside of the gym — it’s rest, it’s nutrition, it’s managing stress, and it’s realizing that our bodies are machines and like a machine that’s been utilized, the older we get, the more we have to watch out for ourselves and our bodies.
Doing things like yoga or ROMWOD daily, staying hydrated, keeping our diet balanced and whole-food based with the occasional cheat or snack is more of a recipe than hitting the gym 6 times per week and eating whatever they want. This was a realization that I’ve faced and that I help others face every week at our gym that ask the question ‘how often should I workout?’
What about someone with a busy schedule who can’t make many classes and doesn’t have time to focus on nutrition. Well, this is a tough situation — and I’m honest when folks come to me saying this. We have ways of measuring progress and results, whether it’s our INBody composition scanner or charting the weights you pick up in workouts, there’s always a way to see what’s really going on with an athlete’s development no matter their age or situation.
What matters in the case of someone who has trouble building routines and sticking to their healthy nutrition habits due whatever reasons may be out of their perceived control is how is that person living?
Are they overall an active, healthy person? Do they hit their exercise rings on their Apple watch or FitBit everyday even if they’re not at the gym by walking and getting out of their office chairs at every chance?
Are they making sure to have vegetables at every meal and not ordering out from local restaurants every night?
Are they mindful and do they have a practice that involves reflection and physical rejuvenation each day? This can drive the right answer to the question of how often should I workout?
You see, in cases that are less defined and structured, the picture can look muddy to some, but it can always be very clear from 10,000 feet as all of these factors mentioned make up a balanced lifestyle, even if they’re not completely regular or structured. For some, this is their best effort AND it can produce some awesome results. For them, it boils down to personal accountability and discipline, no matter their age.
And you know what? It’s hard to tell who’s who in class. The folks who come twice a week work hard and sweat alongside the members who show up everyday. Everyone has fun, everyone sweats, everyone picks up heavy weights that are right for them, and everyone gets a hard and safe workout that they can work with our coaches to ensure is right for their body and their goals.
That’s the beauty of our gym and what separates us from other gyms — we’re more personal and more experienced than your average commercial gyms and personal trainers. It’s not just a transaction, it’s a vehicle to accomplish your goals — not matter how many times you decide to show up for class. At the end of the day, everyone is going to answer the question of How Often Should I Workout? differently and, honestly, all of the answers are correct!