How Many Days a Week Should I Work Out?

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How many days a week should I workout: couple working out together at home
How many days a week should I workout: couple working out together at home

So, you’ve made the decision to commit to your fitness! *Applause*

Your first question: How many days a week should I work out? There is no single, concrete answer to this. *Crickets*

Before you get frustrated, we have good news: This means you (possibly with your certified personal trainer or CPT) get to find a workout plan that works for you as an individual. And when you tailor your workout to your fitness level, lifestyle, training goals, and your body’s needs, you set yourself up for success.

While we can’t tell you how many days a week you should work out (I mean, we just met you!), we can give you some tips as you make a weekly training schedule. Below, we dive into the lifestyle and training factors that influence how many days a week you should workout. 

But Really … How Many Days a Week Should I Work Out?

How many days a week should I workout: Notorious Queens GIF
How many days a week should I workout: Notorious Queens GIF

A lot of people who ask “How many days a week should I work out?” are in the beginner phase of their fitness journey.

They’re ready to replace Saturday movie marathons with actual marathons. And we love the energy. 😍 But instead of going from 0-100 in your first week, you need a workout plan that offers steady, small changes. 

This means the perfect workout schedule is SUSTAINABLE. Instead of going too hard and burning out, you should go at a pace you enjoy. Plus, you can adapt your workout plan as you continue on your fitness journey 

For example, here’s how it can change for different fitness levels:

  • Beginner: If you haven't worked out in say...your entire adult life, then completing one workout per week would be an excellent goal to start with. 

  • Intermediate: If you’re moderately active but want to get more consistent in your workouts, you might try aiming for 3-4 workouts per week. 

  • Advanced: Finally, if you’ve been training consistently for a couple years or you're ready to train for a specific event or competition — like your first 5k race — you might want to work out as much as 5x per week or more.

Long story short, there are many factors to consider when creating your workout routine. As you look for your secret-sauce answer to the question, "How many days a week should I workout?" keep the following in mind: 

1. No One Should Work Out Every Single Day 

If your goal is to lose weight, your immediate reaction might be to work out as often as you can, for as long as you can, without taking a day off. Props for commitment, but you can relax!

That overtraining mentality can get you burned out or even injured, which could land you in a physical therapist's office for months. 

No one — even professional athletes — should be working out seven days a week with no breaks. Prioritize rest days — even if they’re active recovery days — or your entire workout program can fall apart fast.

2. Training Can Come in Seasons 

Think back to your high school sports days: You had an in-season and an off-season. In the in-season, you trained hard while the off-season focused on maintenance, recovery, and general health.

As adults, that mentality goes out the window, which causes many of us to plateau. If you're increasing your training days because you're working toward a goal (again, like running a 5k), you might want to implement a down period after your race to help yourself recover. Or, perhaps you just went through a major life transition (like moving to a new city) where squeezing in 1-2 workouts a week is all you can manage.

These peaks-and-valleys within your training regimen are completely normal (and can actually be healthy!). For example: 

  • In season: Your "in season" is the time period leading up to a competition, where you work up to training 5x per week prior to tapering.

  • Off season: The following "off season" would consist of 3x workouts per week. You'll focus on recovery and work in a few low-intensity workouts (like yoga). 

3. Strike a Balance Between Cardio, Strength Training, and HIIT

Everyone is going to have different workout goals. If you’re a beginner, completing 1-2 workouts consistently week-after-week is a major accomplishment regardless of what happens during those workouts. Later on, you might be focused on how each workout supports more specific goals.

For many goals, a weekly workout regimen should be comprised of 3-5 days of strength and cardio — with both types of workouts offering different advantages:

  • Resistance training: Weight training helps achieve muscle growth while getting your heart rate up.

  • Cardio workouts: Cardiovascular training, particularly HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training), can lead to an afterburn effect (i.e. burning calories after the workout ends), because your body needs to transport more oxygen to your major muscle groups.

4. Focus on Different Muscle Groups Throughout the Week 

If you want to increase your training frequency, you'll need to avoid overworking the same muscle groups on back-to-back days. 

In other words, you shouldn't hit the same body parts Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, which can prevent muscle hypertrophy (i.e. muscle growth).

Instead, try to strike a balance throughout the week, such as: 

  • Lower body vs. upper body: If you work your lower body (glutes, hamstrings, and quads) on Monday, do upper body lifts (working your biceps, triceps, and chests) on Tuesday. 

  • Push vs. pull exercises: Pull exercises work your posterior chain, which includes your back, glute, and hammys, while push exercises work muscles in the front of your body (like your chest and quads). If you do hamstring curls, glute bridges, and bent over rows on Monday, try doing pushups, squats, and walking lunges on Tuesday.

How Often Should You Work Out? 3-5 Day Sample Workouts

Cogis on a treadmill GIF
Cogis on a treadmill GIF

Good beginner routines for most goals typically combine at least 2-3 days of strength training and 1-2 days of cardio throughout the week. Ideally, a balanced workout week will combine: 

  • Heavy weight and low volume: Heavy strength focuses on high weight and low volume (fewer reps), with sets focused between 4-5 reps to help build muscle. 

  • Low weight and high volume: Other days, you'll work on your endurance, focusing on low weight and high volume, aiming for the 8-12 rep range. 

  • HIIT workouts: If you're looking to burn fat, HIIT training sessions will help spike your heart rate, getting you close to achieving your fitness goals. 

  • Steady state cardio: While it won’t get your heart rate going like a HIIT session, other forms of cardio include running, biking, rollerblading, or swimming.

  • Rest and active recovery: Remember, no training plan is complete without rest and recovery. Always take one day a week completely off, and try to include one active recovery day within your training plan (doing yoga, brisk walking, or gentle biking). 

Sample 3 Day Workout Plan 

Time to put it all together! Get inspired with the structure and exercises of this workout plan:

Day 1: Monday — Heavy Strength Day

Do three rounds of each set. Complete one full set, then move to the next exercise.

Circuit 1

  • Chest press: 5 reps

  • Plank: 30 seconds

Circuit 2

  • Goblet squat: 8 reps

  • TRX row: 8 reps

Circuit 3

  • Banded hip lifts (mini band goes above the knee): 8 reps

  • Pushup + plank jack (one push up + jump feet out and in)

Day 2: Wednesday — HIIT Workout

Set a timer for 25 minutes. See how many rounds you can complete in 25 minutes. 

  • Squat to press: 12 reps

  • Explosive step up: 12 reps

  • Med ball slam to burpee: 12 reps

  • TRX squat and row: 12 reps

  • Push-ups: 12 reps

Day 3: Friday — Low Weight High Volume Strength

Do three rounds of each set. Complete one full set, then move to the next exercise.

Circuit 1

  • Deadlift: 5 reps

  • Medicine ball slam: 12 reps

Circuit 2

  • Lat pulldown: 12 reps

  • Standing split squat row: 12 reps

  • Plank walks: 24 total reps (12 each side)

Circuit 3

  • Single arm shoulder press: 16 total reps (8 each side)

  • Thrusters: 12 reps

  • Body saw: 12 reps (back and forth = 1 rep) 

Sample 5-Day Workout Plan 

Workout 1: Back, Legs, and Core

Do three rounds of each set. Complete one full set, then move to the next exercise.

Circuit 1

  • Goblet squat: 8 reps

  • Single arm row: 16 total reps (8 each side)

  • Plank walk: 16 total reps (8 each side)

  • Plank: 30 second hold

Circuit 2

  • Single leg squat (rear foot elevated): 12 reps total (6 each leg)

  • Reverse fly: 8 reps

  • TRX row: 8 reps

  • Banded anti-rotation: 16 total reps (8 each side)

Circuit 3

  • Walking lunges: 16 total reps (8 each leg)

  • TRX high row: 8 reps

  • Bear crawl: 16 total (8 each side)

Workout 2: Body Weight HIIT

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. Perform each circuit 3 times.

Circuit 1

  • Run

  • Light sled push

  • Run

  • Bear crawl

Circuit 2

  • Box jumps 

  • Skaters 

  • Mountain climbers

Circuit 3:

  • Bodyweight squat to heel raise 

  • Jumping split squat

  • Burpees

Workout 3: Active Recovery

Perform 20-30 minutes of low intensity physical activity, preferably keeping things low impact (i.e. no running!). Ideas include: 

  • 30 minutes of brisk walking (ideally on a dirt path — stay off cement to help your legs recover!)

  • 20 minutes of swimming or aqua jogging

  • 30 minutes of light biking 

  • 20 minutes of rollerblading 

Workout 3: Upper Body + Core

Complete one full set, then move to the next exercise. Do three total sets in each circuit.

Circuit 1

  • Chest press: 6 reps

  • Med ball power slams: 6 reps

  • Med ball slow mountain climbers: 12 total reps (10 each side) 

Circuit 2 

  • Dumbbell curl to press: 10 reps

  • Tricep kickback: 10 reps

  • Hollow body hold: 20 seconds

  • Bicycle crunch: 20 total reps (10 each side)

Circuit 3

  • Single arm alternating chest press: 20 total reps (10 each side)

  • Straight leg situp: 10 reps

  • V-up: 10 reps

Workout 5: HIIT Workout

Circuit 1 

  • Med ball slams: 10 reps

  • Mini band side shuffle: 40 total reps (10 each side)

  • Plank jacks: 20 reps 

Circuit 2

  • Walking lunges: 20 total (10 each side)

  • Jump lunges: 20 total (10 each side)

  • Core rotations: 20 total (10 each side)

Circuit 2

  • Banded high knees: 20 total reps (10 each side)

  • Banded vertical jumps: 10 reps

  • Banded bounds: 10 reps

How Many Times a Week Should You Work Out? Ask Your CPT

If you want to build muscle mass, burn fat, or improve your overall health, you need to stick to a regular workout routine. The question, "How many days a week should I work?" is nearly impossible to answer because everybody — and every body — is different. That’s why we always advise working with a personal trainer to develop a workout schedule that's right for you.

To find a personal trainer who can develop a fitness routine that's right for you, start an account on Kickoff. With Kickoff, you get access to one-on-one personal training, starting at just $3 a day. 

Ready to see how Kickoff can transform your health? Get started with an account today.