When it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of factors that go into the equation. You need a good diet, you need to exercise regularly and consistently, and you need to make sure you’re managing your stress levels.
But what about how many days a week you should be working out? It’s not an easy question to answer because everyone’s body is different and everyone has different goals for their workout regimen. But there’s no way around it—if you want to get the results you want, then consistency is key. And that means knowing how many times per week (or month) you should be hitting the gym or hitting the pavement.
Right here on Buy and Slay, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on how to start exercising, best exercises for weight loss, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.
How Many Days A Week Should I Workout For Weight Loss
How many times have you joined a gym or committed to an exercise plan to lose weight, only to back out after a few weeks because you have no idea how often you should work out?
If your answer is “too many to count,” you’re not alone. Knowing how many days you should exercise can be confusing. This is especially so if the amount of time you’re putting in doesn’t match up with your goals.
So, whether your goal is to sweat it out on the treadmill more often to lose a few pounds or to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting in order to gain muscle, the following tips can help you hit your target sooner and with greater success.
How often should you work out for weight loss?
Knowing how often you should strength train and do cardiovascular exercise to lose weight depends on how quickly you want to see results.
The general recommendation is to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. That said, many people seek programs that are designed for faster weight loss.
In the simplest of terms, you’ll need to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight. Dieting has proven to be an effective method of losing weight, but in order to maintain weight loss, you need to exercise.
How much weight you lose depends on the amount of exercise you’re willing to commit to and how closely you stick to your diet. If you really want to see results reflected on the scale and continue to make progress over time, you need to commit to working out at least four to five days per week.
But remember, you’ll build up to this. To start, you might only want to do two or three days per week and slowly work your way up to five days. Plan your workouts to include a combination of:
- strength training
- core work
For maximum results, a workout program should consist of cardiovascular and strength training exercise. When you lift weights, you increase your lean muscle mass. This allows you to increase your metabolism and burn calories at a higher rate, even when you’re not working out.
Cardiovascular exercise isn’t just essential in maintaining good heart health. Cardio exercise can:
- burn calories
- boost your mood
- decrease stress
Generally, aim to do either:
- 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity at least five days per week (150 minutes per week)
- at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days per week (75 minutes per week)
If you want to lose weight, consider two days of moderate activity and two days of vigorous aerobic activity or high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT).
Aim for two to three days per week of strength training. Include full-body workouts that focus on compound exercises. These are moves that work multiple muscles at a time. Examples include:
- squats with a shoulder press
- deadlift with a bent-over row
- lunges with a lateral raise
- pushups and plank with a one-arm row
Other key exercises to include in your strength training program include:
- straight leg deadlifts
- pushup dips
- overhead presses
- dumbbell rows
- exercise ball crunches
To get the most out of your weight loss workouts, make sure you’re following these guidelines:
- Vary the intensity of your workouts. Include both HIIT and moderate-intensity exercises.
- Perform different methods of cardio in a week, like running on the treadmill, biking, and swimming.
- Use circuit training when lifting weights to keep your calorie burn high. Circuit training involves doing a series of exercises, one after the other, with no rest between each exercise. At the end of the series of exercises, you typically rest for a set period (30 to 60 seconds) and repeat the circuit two or three more times.
- Take at least two days of rest each week.
How often should you work out for muscle gain?
Finding the right balance of cardio exercise and strength training is key when it comes to putting on lean muscle. Do too much, and you risk overtraining and losing your hard-earned muscle. On the other hand, if you don’t up the intensity and put the time in, your muscle gains will be minimal.
Stick to two to three days of cardio per week. Focus on shorter, higher-intensity sessions, such as 25 minutes of HIIT.
You need to be hitting the weights at least three days per week. The research says that at the very least, training a minimum of two days per week is needed to maximize muscle growth. How you structure your workouts and the amount of days you devote to strength training depends on your current fitness level.
Consider this schedule, depending on your training level:
|Training level||Days of training|
|Beginner||2 to 3 days per week of strength training (full-body each session)|
|Intermediate||3 to 4 days per week of strength training (split up workout by body part or upper/lower body)|
|Advanced||4 to 5 days per week of strength training (an advanced exerciser might structure their week with three days on, one day off)|
If four days of strength training feels right, consider splitting your week up into upper (arms, chest, and abs) and lower (legs) body segments. For example:
|Wednesday||rest or cardio|
|Saturday||rest or cardio|
|Sunday||rest or cardio|
If you’re not gaining muscle as quickly as you like, you might be facing the dreaded plateau. When you train the same body parts with the same exercises and amount of weight over an extended period of time, there’s a good chance your body will stop responding.
In order to get back to a muscle-building phase, you need to change things up. Here are some ways to do so:
- Add weight to your lifts.
- Swap out your current exercises for a fresh set.
- Change the number of sets and reps you’re performing. By varying the rep range, you combine lighter and heavier loads to elicit greater increases in strength and muscle size. For example, a heavy day will consist of three to five reps, a moderate day will have 8 to 12 reps, and a light day will be 15 to 20 reps.
When it comes to adding muscle to your frame, you need to make sure you’re giving your body plenty of time to rest between strength training sessions. Doing the same amount of exercise day after day can inhibit recovery and cause you to lose muscle over time.
If the idea of taking a day or two off each week is hard for you to manage, consider treating these days as active rest. Do a gentle yoga class or spend extra time stretching.
Cardiovascular exercise and strength training both play a significant role in targeting weight loss and increasing muscle size. Finding the right balance of the two will depend on your individual goals, how quickly you want to achieve them, and the amount of time you can commit to exercising.
How to Start Exercising
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health.
In fact, you’ll begin to see and feel the benefits consistent physical activity can have on your body and well-being quickly.
However, working exercise into your routine takes a lot of determination, and sticking to it in the long term requires discipline.
If you’re considering starting to exercise but don’t know where to begin, this article is for you. Here’s all you need to know about starting a routine and sticking to it.
Regular exercise has been shown to improve your health significantly.
Its primary benefits include helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and muscle mass and reducing your risk for chronic diseases.
Additionally, research has shown that exercise can lift your mood, boost your mental health, help you sleep better, and even enhance your sex life.
And that’s not all. It can also help you maintain good energy levels.
In short, exercise is powerful and can help improve your life.
Exercise can help to improve mental function, reduce your risk for chronic disease and manage your weight.
Common types of exercise
There are various types of exercise, including:
- Aerobic. The core of any fitness program should include some form of continuous movement. Examples include swimming, running, and dancing.
- Strength. These exercises help increase muscle power and strength. Examples include resistance training, plyometrics, weightlifting, and sprinting.
- Calisthenics. These moves are usually performed without gym equipment using large muscle groups. They’re done at a medium aerobic pace. Examples include lunges, situps, pushups, and pullups.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of exercise includes repetitions of short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by low-intensity exercises or rest periods.
- Boot camps. These are timed-based, high-intensity circuits that combine aerobic and resistance exercises.
- Balance or stability. These exercises are designed to strengthen muscles and improves body coordination. Examples include Pilates, tai chi poses, and core-strengthening exercises.
- Flexibility. These types of exercises help muscle recovery, maintain range of motion, and prevent injuries. Examples include yoga or individual muscle-stretch movements.
The activities above can be done individually or combined. The important thing is to do what works best for you and to have fun with it.
Common types of exercise include aerobic, strength, calisthenics, HIIT, boot camps, flexibility, and stability. You can do them individually or combined.
How to get started
It’s essential to consider a few things before starting a new workout routine.
1. Check your health
It’s important to consult your healthcare provider and get a physical medical examination before starting an exercise routine.
This is particularly important for those new to strenuous and vigorous physical activities.
An early checkup can detect any health problems or conditions that could put you at risk for an injury during exercise.
It can also help you optimize your workout, making it easier for you and your personal trainer, if you choose to work with one, to understand your limitations and create an exercise plan tailored to your particular needs.
2. Make a plan and set realistic goals
Once you decide to start exercising regularly, try to create a plan that includes attainable steps and goals.
One way to do this is to start with a plan of easy steps to follow. Then you can continue building on it as your fitness level improves.
For example, if your goal is to finish a 5-kilometer run, you can start by building a plan that includes shorter runs.
Once you can finish those short runs, increase the distance until you can run the whole 5 kilometers in one session.
Starting with small achievable goals will increase your chances of success and keep you motivated every step of the way.
Before you start working out, get a health check-up and make a plan with realistic goals. Then, make exercise a habit by incorporating it into your daily routine.
3. Make it a habit
Another key component of exercise success is to stick to your routine.
It seems to be easier for people to maintain an exercise routine in the long term if they make it a habit and do it regularly.
A review of studies concluded that replacing an unhealthy behavior with a new healthier habit is an excellent approach to maintaining it in the long term.
Furthermore, making a schedule or exercising at the same time every day are good ways to sustain your routine and make it last.
For example, you can make exercise a habit by planning to work out right after work every day or first thing in the morning. It’s important to choose a time that works best for you.
The minimum recommendation for exercise is at least 150 minutes per week. However, it is important to start slowly and let your body rest from time to time.
1-week sample exercise program
Below is an easy-to-follow, 1-week exercise program that doesn’t require equipment and will only take you 30–45 minutes a day to complete.
This program can be adjusted to your fitness level and made as challenging as you want.
- Monday: 40-minute moderate-pace jog or brisk walk.
- Tuesday: Rest day.
- Wednesday: Walk briskly for 10 minutes. Then, complete the following circuits, resting 1 minute after each set but not between exercises. Stretch afterward.
- Circuit #1: 3 sets alternating 10 lunges for each leg, 10 pushups, 10 situps
- Circuit #2: 3 sets alternating 10 chair-dips, 10 jumping jacks, 10 air squats
- Thursday: Rest day.
- Friday: 30-minute bike ride or moderate-pace jog.
- Saturday: Rest day.
- Sunday: Run, jog, or take a long walk for 40 minutes.
There are various exercises you can do. The plan above is just one example to help get you started working out.
A few tips for beginners
1. Stay hydrated
Drinking fluids throughout the day is essential for maintaining healthy hydration levels.
Replenishing fluids during exercise is essential for maintaining optimal performance, especially when exercising in hot temperatures.
Moreover, hydrating after your workout can help you recover and get you ready for your next training session.
2. Optimize your nutrition
Be sure to consume a balanced diet to support your fitness program.
All food groups are necessary to sustain healthy energy levels and get the most out of your workout. Carbs are vital, as they can fuel your muscles before exercise.
Carbs are also important after exercise to replenish glycogen stores and assist with the absorption of amino acids into your muscles during recovery.
Additionally, protein helps improve muscle recovery after exercise, repairs tissue damage, and builds muscle mass.
Lastly, regularly consuming healthy fats has been shown to help burn body fat and preserve muscle fuel during workouts, making your energy last longer.
Click these links for more info about pre-workout and post-workout nutrition.
3. Warm up
It’s important to warm up before your workout. Doing so can help prevent injuries and improve your athletic performance.
It can also help improve your flexibility and reduce soreness after your workout.
Simply start your workout with some aerobic exercises like arm swings, leg kicks, and walking lunges.
Alternatively, you can warm up by doing easy movements of the exercise you’re planning to do. For example, walk before you run.
4. Cool down
Cooling down is also important because it helps your body return to its normal state.
Taking a couple of minutes to cool down can help restore normal breathing patterns and even reduce the chance of muscle soreness.
Some cool-down ideas include light walking after aerobic exercise or stretching after resistance training.
5. Listen to your body
If you’re not used to working out every day, be mindful of your limits.
If you feel pain or discomfort while exercising, stop and rest before continuing. Pushing through the pain is not a good idea, as it can cause injuries.
Also, remember that working out harder and faster is not necessarily better.
Taking your time to progress through your fitness program can help you maintain your routine in the long term and make the most of it.
Be sure to stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, warm up before exercising, cool down afterward, and listen to your body.
How to stay motivated
The key to staying motivated and making exercise a habit is to have fun while doing it. This helps you to not dread exercising.
Like the sample exercise program shown above, you can mix up activities while keeping it fun for you.
If you’re able to and want to, joining a gym or taking a virtual fitness class like yoga or Pilates, hiring a personal trainer, or doing team sports are good ideas to help increase motivation and enjoyment.
Working out as a group or with a friend can also help maintain accountability and motivate you to keep up your exercise routine.
Furthermore, tracking your progress, such as logging your weightlifting levels or noting your running times, can help keep you motivated to improve your personal records.
To maintain your motivation, try mixing up your workouts, joining a gym, or participating in a team sport. And be sure to track your progress.
The bottom line
Starting a new exercise routine can be challenging. However, having real objectives can help you maintain a fitness program in the long term.
There are many different types of physical activity to choose from. Find a few that work for you and be sure to vary them occasionally.
The goal is to start slowly, build up your fitness level, and let your body rest from time to time to help prevent injuries.
Keeping track of your progress or taking a virtual group class are examples of actionable steps that can help you stay motivated and achieve your goals.
It’s also important to eat a healthy diet and hydrate regularly as well as check in with your healthcare provider to monitor your health.
So what are you waiting for?
Start exercising today!
Best Exercises for Weight Loss
It’s estimated that half of all American adults attempt to lose weight every year.
Aside from dieting, exercising is one of the most common strategies employed by those trying to shed extra pounds. It burns calories, and this plays a key role in weight loss.
In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise has been linked to many other benefits, including improved mood, stronger bones, and a reduced risk of many chronic diseases.
Here are the 8 best exercises for weight loss.
Walking is one of the best exercises for weight loss — and for good reason.
It’s convenient and an easy way for beginners to start exercising without feeling overwhelmed or needing to purchase equipment. Also, it’s a lower-impact exercise, meaning it doesn’t stress your joints.
According to Harvard Health, it’s estimated that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns around 167 calories per 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 4 mph (6.4 km/h).
A 12-week study in 20 women with obesity found that walking for 50–70 minutes 3 times per week reduced body fat and waist circumference by an average of 1.5% and 1.1 inches (2.8 cm), respectively.
It’s easy to fit walking into your daily routine. To add more steps to your day, try walking during your lunch break, taking the stairs at work, or taking your dog for extra walks.
To get started, aim to walk for 30 minutes 3–4 times a week. You can gradually increase the duration or frequency of your walks as you become more fit.
Summary Walking is a great
exercise for beginners, as it can be done anywhere, doesn’t require equipment,
and puts minimal stress on your joints. Try to incorporate more walks into your
2. Jogging or running
Jogging and running are great exercises to help you lose weight.
Although they seem similar, the key difference is that a jogging pace is generally between 4–6 mph (6.4–9.7 km/h), while a running pace is faster than 6 mph (9.7 km/h).
Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns approximately 298 calories per 30 minutes of jogging at a 5-mph (8-km/h) pace, or 372 calories per 30 minutes of running at a 6-mph (9.7-km/h) pace.
What’s more, studies have found that jogging and running can help burn harmful visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat. This type of fat wraps around your internal organs and has been linked to various chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Both jogging and running are great exercises that can be done anywhere and are easy to incorporate into your weekly routine. To get started, aim to jog for 20–30 minutes 3–4 times per week.
If you find jogging or running outdoors to be hard on your joints, try running on softer surfaces like grass. Also, many treadmills have built-in cushioning, which may be easier on your joints.
Summary Jogging and running
are great exercises for weight loss that are easy to incorporate into your
weekly routine. They can also help burn belly fat, which is linked to many
Cycling is a popular exercise that improves your fitness and can help you lose weight.
Although cycling is traditionally done outdoors, many gyms and fitness centers have stationary bikes that allow you to cycle while staying indoors.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns around 260 calories per 30 minutes of cycling on a stationary bike at a moderate pace, or 298 calories per 30 minutes on a bicycle at a moderate pace of 12–13.9 mph (19–22.4 km/h).
Not only is cycling great for weight loss, but studies have found that people who cycle regularly have better overall fitness, increased insulin sensitivity, and a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death, compared with those who don’t cycle regularly.
Cycling is great for people of all fitness levels, from beginners to athletes. Plus, it’s a non-weight-bearing and low-impact exercise, so it won’t place much stress on your joints.
Summary Cycling is great
for people of all fitness levels and can be done outdoors on a bicycle or
indoors on a stationary bike. It has been linked to various health benefits,
including increased insulin sensitivity and a reduced risk of certain chronic
4. Weight training
Weight training is a popular choice for people looking to lose weight.
According to Harvard Health, it’s estimated that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns roughly 112 calories per 30 minutes of weight training.
Also, weight training can help you build strength and promote muscle growth, which can raise your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or how many calories your body burns at rest.
One 6-month study showed that simply doing 11 minutes of strength-based exercises 3 times per week resulted in a 7.4% increase in metabolic rate, on average. In this study, that increase was equivalent to burning an additional 125 calories per day.
Another study found that 24 weeks of weight training led to a 9% increase in metabolic rate among men, which equated to burning approximately 140 more calories per day. Among women, the increase in metabolic rate was nearly 4%, or 50 more calories per day.
In addition, numerous studies have shown that your body continues to burn calories many hours after a weight-training workout, compared with aerobic exercise.
Summary Weight training can
help you lose weight by burning calories during and after your workout. It may
also help you build muscle mass, which raises your resting metabolic rate — the
number of calories your body burns at rest.
5. Interval training
Interval training, more commonly known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is a broad term that refers to short bursts of intense exercise that alternate with recovery periods.
Typically, a HIIT workout lasts 10–30 minutes and can burn a lot of calories.
One study in 9 active men found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories per minute than other types of exercises, including weight training, cycling, and running on a treadmill.
That means HIIT can help you burn more calories while spending less time exercising.
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that HIIT is especially effective at burning belly fat, which is linked to many chronic diseases.
HIIT is easy to incorporate into your exercise routine. All you need to do is choose a type of exercise, such as running, jumping, or biking, and your exercise and rest times.
For example, pedal as hard as you can on a bike for 30 seconds followed by pedaling at a slow pace for 1–2 minutes. Repeat this pattern for 10–30 minutes.
Summary Interval training
is an effective weight loss strategy that can be applied to many types of
exercises, including running, jumping, biking, and more. Incorporating interval
training into your routine can help you burn more calories in less time.
Swimming is a fun way to lose weight and get in shape.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns approximately 233 calories per half hour of swimming.
How you swim appears to affect how many calories you burn. Per 30 minutes, a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns 298 calories doing backstroke, 372 calories doing breaststroke, 409 calories doing butterfly, and 372 calories treading water.
One 12-week study in 24 middle-aged women found that swimming for 60 minutes 3 times per week significantly reduced body fat, improved flexibility, and reduced several heart disease risk factors, including high total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.
Another advantage of swimming is its low-impact nature, meaning that it’s easier on your joints. This makes it a great option for people who have injuries or joint pain.
Summary Swimming is a great
low-impact exercise for people looking to lose weight. Moreover, it may help
improve your flexibility and reduce risk factors for various diseases.
Yoga is a popular way to exercise and relieve stress.
While it’s not commonly thought of as a weight loss exercise, it burns a fair amount of calories and offers many additional health benefits that can promote weight loss.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns around 149 calories per 30 minutes of practicing yoga.
A 12-week study in 60 women with obesity found that those who participated in two 90-minute yoga sessions per week experienced greater reductions in waist circumference than those in the control group — by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), on average.
Additionally, the yoga group experienced improvements in mental and physical well-being.
Aside from burning calories, studies have shown that yoga can teach mindfulness, which can help you resist unhealthy foods, control overeating, and better understand your body’s hunger signals.
Most gyms offer yoga classes, but you can practice yoga anywhere. This includes from the comfort of your own home, as there are plenty of guided tutorials online.
Summary Yoga is a great
weight loss exercise that can be done nearly anywhere. It not only burns
calories but also teaches you mindfulness to help you resist food
Pilates is a great beginner-friendly exercise that may help you lose weight.
According to a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, a person weighing around 140 pounds (64 kg) would burn 108 calories at a 30-minute beginner’s Pilates class, or 168 calories at an advanced class of the same duration.
Although Pilates may not burn as many calories as aerobic exercises like running, many people find it enjoyable, which makes it easier to stick to over time.
An 8-week study in 37 middle-aged women found that performing Pilates exercises for 90 minutes 3 times per week significantly reduced waist, stomach, and hip circumference, compared with a control group that did no exercise over the same period.
Other than weight loss, Pilates has been shown to reduce lower back pain and improve your strength, balance, flexibility, endurance, and overall fitness level.
If you’d like to give Pilates a go, try incorporating it into your weekly routine. You can do Pilates at home or one of the many gyms that offer Pilates classes.
To further boost weight loss with Pilates, combine it with a healthy diet or other forms of exercise, such as weight training or cardio.
Summary Pilates is a great
beginner-friendly exercise that can help you lose weight while improving other
areas of your physical fitness, such as strength, balance, flexibility, and
How much weight can you realistically expect to lose?
How much weight you can expect to lose from exercise depends on many factors.
- Starting weight. People who weigh more tend to shed more pounds than those who weigh
less. Still, the percentage of body weight lost is similar.
- Age. Older people tend to carry more fat mass and less muscle mass,
which reduces your RMR, or how many calories your body burns at rest. A
lower RMR can make it more difficult to lose weight.
- Gender. Women tend to have a greater fat to muscle ratio than men, which
can affect their RMR. As a result, men tend to lose weight quicker than
women, even if they consume a similar number of calories.
- Diet. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume.
Thus, a calorie deficit is essential to losing
- Sleep. Studies have found that a lack of sleep may slow the rate at which
you lose weight and even increase your cravings for unhealthy foods.
- Medical conditions. People with medical conditions like depression and hypothyroidism may lose weight at a
- Genetics. Studies have shown that weight loss has a genetic component, which
may affect certain people with obesity.
Although most people want to lose weight quickly, experts often recommend losing 1–3 pounds (0.5–1.36 kg), or approximately 1% of your body weight, per week.
Losing weight too fast can have negative health consequences. For example, it can result in muscle loss and increase your risk of conditions like gallstones, dehydration, fatigue, malnutrition, headaches, irritability, constipation, hair loss, and irregular periods.
What’s more, people who lose weight too fast are more prone to regaining it.
It’s important to keep in mind that weight loss is not a linear process, and it’s common to find yourself losing weight more quickly when you first get started.
Summary Many factors affect
how much weight you can realistically expect to lose with exercise. Most
experts recommend losing 1–3 pounds (0.5–1.36 kg) per week, or approximately 1%
of your body weight.
The bottom line
Many exercises can help you lose weight.
Some great choices for burning calories include walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, weight training, interval training, yoga, and Pilates.
That said, many other exercises can also help boost your weight loss efforts.
It’s most important to choose an exercise that you enjoy doing. This makes it more likely that you’ll stick to it long term and see results.