Whenever people are just starting out with a workout regime, there’s always one question on everyone’s mind. The question is, “how much do I need to exercise per week?”. Everyone has a busy schedule nowadays so the question is valid. If misguided, a person can be demotivated and can quit their regime altogether.
The amount of exercise one needs depends on multiple factors. Not everyone is made in the same way. Every person has their own unique characteristics including the way their body works as well. Some people can naturally burn more calories than others, so they’d need to work out less in order to lose weight. Therefore, the amount of exercise required varies from person to person.
What are your goals?
One thing that’s able to draw a clearer line over exercise frequency is an individual’s goals. Instead of first thinking about the amount of exercise, you should focus on your goals. Think about what you want as the end result of working out for a few months. After that, it’s much easier to decide how much you need to work out.
For example, if you are overweight and you want to shed that weight fast, then you’ll probably need to do a lot of exercise per week. However, if you were taking it slow then you wouldn’t need to do a lot. For general health purposes, even a routine of walking more often can help instead of an entire exercise regime.
Therefore, your goals are highly important. Through these goals, one can estimate the amount of effort that’ll be required. For goals such as weight loss or muscle building, one would need to work out for 5 days a week 40-60 mins per session. That’s the standard time though, you can make adjustments according to your needs or time constraints. For example, I would work out longer to get more cardio in because I wanted to lose weight at a much faster rate. It all depends on your personal goals.
We’ll provide recommended amounts with regards to a few common goals people often share.
The Two main types of Workouts
As a general guideline, there are two main types of physical activity that one needs to do in order to stay fit. These are aerobic exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises. Both activities need to be performed per week in order to reap the most benefits for any type of goal and a lot of workouts involve these without us even knowing about it.
Aerobic exercises are those which are responsible for bringing the heart rate up for cardiovascular endurance. This is achieved by working the larger muscles of the body which require more energy than the others and thus, bringing up the heart rate. These exercises are highly efficient in burning a lot of calories. Running, cycling, swimming etc. are all great examples of aerobic activity.
Muscle-strengthening exercises usually work for more than one muscle group. The name is self-explanatory, the goal is to grow and increase the strength of your muscles. For optimal growth, it’s recommended that all major muscle groups should be hit at least two times a week. Physical activity such as weightlifting, bodyweight exercises or resistance band training all come under muscle-strengthening exercises.
For adults, it’s recommended that they work out with moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes a week. If the exercise intensity is high then even 75 minutes will do. However, if you want better health benefits, then doubling these times helps. That would make 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 150 minutes of high-intensity exercises per week.
It’s also better to spread these minutes out throughout the week to keep yourself active all 7 days. It’ll be hard to train this much in one or two days anyway so it’s better to break it down. A 5-day split would be ideal with 30-60 mins of moderate exercise per workout. The 5 days a week regime works well because your body also needs time to recover and the 2 days of the week are more than enough for recovery.
Amount of exercise required for weight loss
Now that we’ve talked about the amount of exercise needed for regular adults, we can now talk about the amount needed for specific goals. As mentioned earlier, the amount of exercise required can vary from person to person and from goal to goal. One goal that a lot of people have is to lose weight.
Of course, diet is more important when it comes to weight loss. However, a good exercise routine can significantly boost the weight loss process and help you maintain it later as well. For weight loss, you need to work extra harder than the normal guidelines shared above. That’s because the above guidelines state the bare minimum amount of exercise needed to stay healthy.
In order to lose weight, one must burn a lot more calories. It was recommended that 30-60 mins of moderate activity per day for five days a week is enough to be healthy. In order to lose weight, one must work out for 60 mins at least with moderate intensity per day. It’s better to increase the intensity during workouts in order to maximize fat burn.
If you only have time to work out for 30 minutes then you need to make them count. The intensity must be really high for the workout to be 30 minutes long. The average workout times for people wanting to lose weight is between 45-60 mins where the intensity is mostly high.
Another reason to perform high-intensity workouts is due to the afterburn effect. What happens is that even during rest, your body is burning calories. That’s because, during high-intensity workouts, you wear down your body so much that it needs to burn extra calories in order to recover. Therefore, high-intensity-interval workouts (HIIT) are recommended. If you do HIIT, then you only need to do 45 mins a day for five days a week.
Amount of exercise required for cardiovascular health
If you’re a heart patient or someone looking to improve their cardiovascular health, then your workouts will be more focused on aerobic exercises. 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity five days a week is recommended. If you perform these exercises at a higher intensity, then 25 minutes for 3 days works well.
If you do perform them with high intensity, then space out those 3 days with breaks in between. That’s because your body needs time to recover from those intense workouts. Perhaps consider following a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday regime for intense aerobic workouts.
However, that does not mean you skip muscle-strengthening exercises altogether. During the break days in the regime above, you can perform muscle-strengthening workouts. It’s recommended to perform muscle-strengthening workouts twice a week in conjunction with 3 days of intense aerobic workouts.
Overall, these are just sample plans. You can modify them to suit your needs better. Everyone has their own pace and the amount of exercise each person needs varies. Moreover, not everyone can perform high-intensity workouts. Therefore, it’s always good to consult a doctor before engaging in anything high-intense if you have past issues such as heart problems.