Training frequency: How often should you train?

A photo of a calendar with days crossed out

A question I am often asked, how often should I train? The simple answer is: it depends on your goals.

If you are looking to lose weight, which most of my clients are, then you should train as often as you can. That can be applied to clients with any goals to be honest. The important thing is to train within your limitations. This means do as much as you can without getting injured or undoing the work you have done in previous sessions. It is possible to over train and undo the work you have done in previous sessions. This is especially true of weight training. It is also possible to over train in cardio activities such as running, which can sometimes cause strain in muscles, tendons and bones.

Training frequency guidlines

It is recommended that sedentary adults (those doing little or no exercise) should undertake at least 30 mins of activity daily. This is usually in one hit, so you can’t get away with walking to the fridge 30 times a day, that doesn’t count! Some good activities to start off on are:  walking, swimming, cycling, gardening, housework, washing the car, things that aren’t too physically demanding and readily accessible to most people.

To begin with you can break the 30 mins up into 2 lots of 15 or 3 lots of 10.

Those that are currently active should aim to do at least 30 mins of activity daily, depending on your goals, you can increase or decrease this amount provided you maintain a healthy regime that will keep you fit and healthy.

Training too often

You would not think it possible, but it is. You can start a training regime with the best of intentions and be a bit over enthusiastic sometimes. This is why it is so important to do your research or employ a fitness professional to educate you on the proper development patterns needed to reach your goals. You can easily fall into the trap of over training and this will sometimes bring about long term physical issues. When lifting weights to build muscle you have to let the muscles repair before you can train them again. Otherwise they will be in a prolonged state of repair and any gains made from the initial session will be lost or drastically reduced. You will know when the muscles are ready to be re-trained, when they stop aching!

Training too little

If you don’t do enough, you won’t make any progress. You might make some but it will take longer and may well deflate you after putting in the little effort you may have given.

Training frequency for building muscle

For building muscle you should work to your absolute limit, meaning that when you reach the last repitition or rep of your set, you should be unable to lift any more and feel a burning sensation in the muscles used. The ideal rep range to build muscle is between 6 – 12 reps, reaching failure on the last rep. The recovery process will usually take around 2 days depending on your level of exertion and familiarity with this type of training. When fully recovered you can return to training those muscles again, increasing the weight slightly when you find it easier to lift the weight previously lifted.

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