It doesn’t matter if your decision to get fit has been sparked by a New Year’s resolution pledge, or simply the desire to get in shape after a period of over indulgence. The fact is, starting out on a fitness journey can be scary. There’s no shame in feeling nervous or daunted about the upcoming experience, it’s completely normal! So let’s help you get started on the right track by answering a few of your initial questions, like “how many times should you workout a week?”
How Often Should A Beginner Exercise
The best way to begin your fitness journey is by aiming to complete a 30 minute workout, 3 days a week. If this feels too intense, try reducing your workout session by 5-15 minutes, or whatever you feel comfortable completing. As the weeks go by you will get stronger, and fitter. At this point, gradually increase your workout session length by 1-2 minutes each week, until you reach the desired 30 minute workout.
The American Heart Association advises individuals to complete moderately-intensive aerobic activity exercises for a minimum of 150 minutes each week. Or, a total of 75 minutes vigorous aerobic activity each week (source).
Should A Beginner Workout Everyday?
When you start your fitness journey, you may feel tempted to start exercising everyday. Although your intentions are great, this is not the best way to start your fitness journey, because you will quickly run out of time, energy and interest.
Keeping fit takes time and dedication, so be realistic about how much time you actually have in your daily life. Then, set a weekly fitness target that fits around your work, kids, and household chores. It is important to make the target realistic, as over committing yourself to a daily exercise regime will quickly feel like a noose around your neck that you just don’t have time for.
Overcommitting yourself to regular exercise will increase your chances of quitting, tenfold. This is because no matter how much you plan and organise your daily life, other priorities at some point or other will always get pushed to the front of the queue. This is completely fine (and normal). To avoid over committing be realistic about the amount of time you actually have in your life, to exercise. If you have to skip one workout session, try to not consider this as a failure. Just keep exercising, and never use one missed workout as an excuse to give up completely.
How Many Days Should A Beginner Rest?
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to how many days a beginner should rest each week, because everyone’s bodies are different. Each of us start from a different level of fitness, and will find certain forms of exercise harder than others. A rough guide would be aiming to leave 2 days between each workout, to allow your body to heal and recuperate.
Always remember that rest days are just as important as workout days, because they allow your body to heal. If you are new to fitness it is likely that your workout sessions will be exercising muscles that have never been worked before, so you may feel sore for a few days after each workout. The soreness is caused by microscopic tears in your muscles. So, rather than forcing yourself to workout when your body feels tender, give yourself a rest!
Finally, remember to listen to what your body is telling you and adjust your rest versus workout days accordingly. Never force yourself to complete a workout if your body is screaming at you to stop.
How Do You Know When Your Body Needs Rest?
If you have never exercised before, how do you know if you need a rest?How many times should you workout a week?
It’s easy to get confused at this point. If in doubt, make sure you look to your body, mind and mood to help decipher if your body is screaming out for a rest from exercising.
Here a 5 warning signs to look out for, that indicate your body might be ready for a well deserved rest day:
- Feeling moody
- Your sleep pattern is disturbed
- You feel like a rest
- Feeling sick
- Your body feels sore
1. Feeling Moody
Overtraining your body often leads to mental fatigue. This is where you experiencing a mild headache, or feel slightly hungover. It can take months to develop, so aim to read your bodies signals that it needs to rest before this occurs, and avoid overworking your body to the point of exhaustion.
2. Your Sleep Pattern Is Disturbed
If you normally sleep through the night but are now experiencing a level of insomnia, or repetitive sleep disturbances, then your body may be asking you to rest.
Exercising too much can place a strain on your central nervous system, constantly asking it to heal and rebuild torn muscles, rather than rest. This can result in sleep disturbances
3. You Feel Like A Rest
Every individual is different, but in general you should aim to leave roughly 1-2 days in between your workouts to allow your body to heal and recoup. If you cannot face a workout one day, don’t worry! This is simply your body asking you to take a rest. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
4. Feeling Sick
If you are feeling sick, this maybe a sign that you have been overtraining your body. Take a rest!
Exercising on a regular basis is a great way to boost your immune system and stay healthy. However, too much exercise means you are forcing your body to stay in a continual catabolic state which lowers your levels of immunity, placing you at greater risk of getting sick (source).
5. Your Body Feels Sore
Exercising can be tough on your body, and each workout often leads to tiny microscopic tears in your muscles. Although this is completely normal, and a result of working your muscles harder than they are used to being exercised, your body does need time to heal.
Scientists suggest that muscles take 24-72 hours to heal, so if you are feeling sore give your body the rest it deserves.
What Should I Do On Rest Days?
Rest days are really important because they allow your body time to heal, recover, and grow stronger for future workouts. Never skip a rest day, nor underestimate the power of such days in realigning your mood, energy levels, and desire to workout during the rest of the week.
4 Rest Day Ideas
Stuck for rest ideas? Take at look at these 4 rest day ideas.
1. Lie In
Lie in, and let your body catch up on all that missed sleep. Sounds nice, doesn’t it! So stop worrying about how many times should you workout a week!
Getting a great night’s sleep will make you feel ready to take on the world. I always find it amazing how one decent night’s sleep can literally transform my mental health and overall mood, during the next day.
If you have early rising children then this probably won’t be possible though!
2. Watch Netflix
Admit it, we all love a proper rest day from time to time! So, rather than doing the housework, or entertaining the kids at yet another expensive entertainment park, switch Netflix on instead! Binge watch the latest series that you’ve been desperate to watch for months, take a long hot soak in the tub, and generally just give yourself a break.
Life can be tough, so reward yourself with a little r&r.
3. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is really important, and will help improve your general mood and cognitive abilities. Drinking water can also help reduce feelings of fatigue.
Take a look at my article “How Many Litres Of Water Should You Drink A Day“. This article focuses on my personal study where I committed to drinking 3 litres of water a day, for 30 days. I was truly amazed at the outcome. Are you?
4. Eat Protein
Make sure you consume protein during the 24 hours after a workout, because your bodies ability to “utilize protein to build muscle remains elevated for a full 24 hours after your heavy sweat session” (source).
3 Ways To Get More Active In Your Daily Life
If you are a complete beginner to exercising, then you may have wondered how many times should you workout a week. This is an interesting question with no definitive right or wrong answer. In my opinion, the best way you can get started on your fitness journey is by simply being more active in your daily life. There are hundreds of ways to incorporate movement into your lives, without having to set aside value time to do it.
Let’s look at 3 examples of how you can be more active in your daily life:
Rather than sitting on the couch watching TV each evening, why not take a 30-60 minute stroll instead? Walking is a great low impact exercise that will burn a few extra calories, whilst also keeping your heart healthy.
As your fitness levels improve, gradually increase your walking speed each week to give your body a better workout.
2. Play With Your Children
Children love to run around causing havoc. They are always so full of energy and desperate to get as much of their parents attention as they can. So, rather than sending them out into the garden to play with their siblings, and burn off their source of unlimited energy, why not join in with them!
Play with your kids, have fun, and build memories that last a lifetime. This play time has the additional benefit of teaching your children how to keep active, from a very young age. Think of how many calories you are burning, just by having fun playing with your children.
3. Get Hoovering!
You’ve got to get the task done anyway, so put a little bit more effort into the hoovering and make it into a proper workout.
Housework burns more calories than you realise. So, start pushing that hoover back and forth quickly, and burn up to 119 calories in just 30 minutes of hoovering! (source)
When answering the question “how many times should you workout a week” you can see that there is no one size fit all solution.
The best approach to ensure success is to establish a routine that fits around your daily life, and will not quickly feel like a time consuming chore. You should also listen to your bodies signals and take rest days when your body needs to recovery from those killer workouts you complete.
Finally, can you think of any other advice to give those new to fitness? Or is there an additional question that you would love to hear the answer to. If there is, leave a comment below.