People have different goals and reasons for working out. Most people want to lose weight. Some want to maintain weight. Others want to be able to do their first push up, or stand on their hands.
But maybe your main goal is to improve your health and do your best to live a long and happy life.
How Often Should You Train?
The answer to that question may vary a bit depending on what your goal is. But what it mostly comes down to is this: As often as possible. But of course, as often as possible also means following your common sense.
For example, you don't want to train so often (and so hard) that you end up overtraining and hurting yourself. Being forced to take days, weeks or even months off from training is not fun.
But in general, you want to train often. No matter if your goal is weight loss, learning a new skill or improving your technique in anything.
It's always better to workout 3-5 days a week and less time (I prefer 20-30 minutes) than once a week insanely long, for example, for two hours.
Why Frequency Matters
Frequency and consistency really are the keys to success. Working out several times a week is what will get you to your goals–there's just no other way.
According to American Heart Association, adults should exercise moderately for 150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes per week vigorously, or 75 minutes by combining them both. It does not seem to make a difference whether you do all your 150 minutes at once or during five days. 150 minutes a week is still 150 minutes a week, right?
But I believe that it's much smarter to work out often and less time than rarely and for hours at once. In general, frequency is more important factor than duration of your training. Here's why:
- By training more often, you create the habit of working out. Once you've created a habit, getting out and moving your body takes less willpower. Training becomes second nature and you can't live without. You really learn to love the whole process. It doesn't happen to those who only workout once in a while. If it did, they'd workout more often!
- You constantly make better choices outside of your workouts too. You eat better, you take better care of your sleep and make healthier choices overall. If you're working out just once a week or even less than that, chances are that you pay less attention to your other habits too.
- Your body gets used to moving. If you workout just once a week or once every two weeks and go hard and long, your body won't like it. You get sore, fatigued and will burn out. It's simply too much! It's better to teach your body to move constantly, so your metabolism stays fast and your joints and muscles stay healthy.
- You get better results. It's a fact that you don't lose fat going running once a week, just like you don't learn a handstand by practicing once a week. You might, but both things will take you forever. To look and feel better, you have to be consistent with your workouts and diet. (Side note: a good diet also means having treats once in a while if you want them. Crazy restriction will only lead you to binge later).
Something is Always Better than Nothing
I used to think that 40 minutes is not enough time for a workout. Now I think that it's more than enough.
I remember when my roommate went out for a 20-minute run, I was thinking; what's the point of going at all? You can't get anything done in 20 minutes, why even bother?
Little did I know!
First of all, 20 minutes is absolutely perfect time to get in a super intense workout. You can go ahead and try any of the workouts on this site.
Work hard when doing them, none of them are easy! At the same time, none of them last longer than 30 minutes. (And, I also have a great arm workout for you in this post that proves you that you can get a lot done in just seven minutes).
When we're talking about running, then you can make your 20 minutes count a lot by doing ten hill sprints. You probably won't even have any energy to go longer than that.
But even if you can't do a high intensity training for one reason or another, maybe you're injured, you don't have the equipment that you usually use or you're too tired to go hard…do something! You can almost always go for a walk or ride your bike.
If you do that for 20 minutes, it's still so much better than watching TV or killing time surfing the web. These things won't make you sweat a ton or make you burn a ton of calories, but these are not the only things that matter.
What also matters is that your body gets to move, which is essential for our well-being. We are made to move not sit in one place staring a screen.
Another very important thing is what this small movement does to your mind. Don't underestimate it.
You have probably never returned from a short walk or bike ride, thinking, why the heck did I go, I feel so much worse now…
7-Minutes Shaky Arms Bodyweight Workout
Yesterday morning's mini workout was an excellent example of how a short workout goes a long way. My arms were absolutely shaky and I definitely feel those seven minutes in my upper body today!
For this workout, you only need a bench or chair. You'll alternate between two exercises: Elevated push ups and Triceps dips. The total time you need for this workout is 7 minutes.
Here's how it goes:
- 45 seconds push ups, 15 seconds triceps dips
- 40 seconds push ups, 20 seconds triceps dips
- 35 seconds push ups, 25 seconds triceps dips
- 30 seconds push ups, 30 seconds triceps dips
- 25 seconds push ups, 35 seconds triceps dips
- 20 seconds push ups, 40 seconds triceps dips
- 15 seconds push ups, 45 seconds triceps dips
Try to keep the breaks between the rounds as short as you can, and if you really need to, take some rest. If you watch the full video you notice that I sure needed some!
Frequency of your workouts matter, regardless if your goal is to learn a new skill, lose fat or get or stay healthy for better, longer life. Training more often and less time at once is more beneficial than training hard every once in a while.
For lifelong fitness, you need to create a habit of working out, and that can only happen when you're working out often.