The toughest part of getting started on your fitness journey is exactly that: getting started! Making the commitment is the most important step, and from there, the rest is details.
Still, you probably have some questions about mapping out a weekly exercise routine, and we’re here to clear them up. One of the most common questions in the industry involves frequency — more specifically, how often you need to exercise to get results.
Are daily workouts the best way to go? What about rest days? Does it depend on whether you do aerobics, cardio, or weight training? All of these factors come into play, and we’ll address each one in this article.
With these 10 tips, you’ll figure out exactly how often you should work out, the level of intensity you should aim for, and some recovery guidelines to always come back stronger the next day. Let’s get right to it.
1. Daily Minimum for Everyone
It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, underweight, old or young, we all need to get up and move our bodies daily. It’s just one of the facts of life that all doctors, scientists, and therapists agree on. The benefits for the body and mind are too numerous to count, and it costs you nothing but a short block of time each day.
The body is resilient and can manage 30 minutes of brisk walking each day, so make that your bare minimum and work up from there. A mellow bike ride or hike can be your next step.
What matters most is getting started, so make that 30-minute daily commitment right now.
2. Cardio for Weight Loss
If your goal is to lose belly fat and see that number on the bathroom scale decline, cardio needs to be your top priority. In terms of frequency, you can safely do three or four days of cardio each week.
During cardio, your goal should be to maintain an elevated heart rate and work up a sweat. Once you start to feel the burn in your legs and lungs, you’re in the right zone! Maintain that pace for at least 20 more minutes and you’ll start to see the pounds melt away, provided you stick with a healthy diet, and recover right.
3. Resistance Training for Strength
Don’t be skeptical of adding resistance training to your weekly routine. You can safely lift weights or use resistance bands to tone up your muscles and kick your metabolism into high gear, so use these resources if they’re available to you.
Since resistance training is a bit more taxing than cardio, you might need to limit it to just two or three times per week to begin, with plenty of stretching and recovery in between. When you first start, you’re going to be sore, so listen to the signals from your body and don’t overdo it.
Follow the principles of progressive overload and add a few pounds to your workout each week. This will help you feel great and keep weight off in the future.
4. Rest and Recovery Reminder
It isn’t talked about enough, but rest and recovery are crucial to any fitness regimen. Your body needs to recuperate from the intense workouts you perform, whether it’s sustained cardio, weight training, or intense dance aerobics.
Recovery isn’t just about taking time away from your workouts. You also need to eat clean, whole foods, avoid drinking and smoking, and get at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night.
If muscle fatigue and soreness persist, look into getting a sports massage, or hop in a sauna or steam room a few times a week if you can. Don’t forget plenty of stretching and yoga to stay limber and loose.
5. Keep Things Fun and Fresh
The biggest obstacle to fitness success isn’t genetics, schedules, or donuts – it’s boredom! If you aren’t excited to work out several times a week, you’ll soon be going through the motions, forgetting why you started, and inevitably end up back on the couch.
To prevent your routine from going stale, keep adding new workouts and tactics to the mix all the time. Jog on a new trail in your city, try out a different Body FX program, or partake in our monthly challenge. The more you switch things up, the less likely you’ll fall into autopilot mode and slip up. Stay engaged and remember to have fun!
6. Consistency in All Areas
We all know that person who jumps from one diet craze to the next in a matter of weeks, or falls in love with a certain type of exercise quickly, only to forget about it a month later.
You heard it here first – it’s always better to be consistent, even if your progress is a bit slower.
As we said, cardio and strength training a few times a week is the best path forward, with at least one day of rest and relaxation.
You are far more likely to stay on track with a manageable routine like this, rather than shooting for 2-hour workouts a day for 90 days straight. That strategy is a one-way ticket to burnout! Be okay with starting slow, and that consistency will pay off big.
7. Ramp it Up Over Time
We hinted at this point previously, but it’s worth reiterating. Your workouts need to become progressively more intense and challenging over time if you want to see continued results – it’s as simple as that.
Our bodies adjust to the status quo very quickly, whether it’s a new schedule, diet, or workout protocol. If your workouts stay at the same length and intensity, you can’t expect much progress.
With that said, stick with our recommended workout frequency for your beginner and intermediate phases. When you become advanced, you may want to work out more often, or for longer periods of time, but you can cross that bridge down the road.
8. Create a Schedule That Works
Fitness advice tends to suffer from a one-size-fits-all mentality, and in the real world, you need to find out what works best for you, rather than following a routine to the letter. We want you to succeed, but it takes some improvisation to make it happen.
Scheduling workouts is a perfect example. Maybe you’ve read that morning workouts are best, but if you can only exercise in the evening, just do that. If you can only press play four times a week instead of five, that’s way better than doing nothing at all, trust us!
Take a minute right now and map out your perfect workout schedule for the upcoming week, incorporating the guidelines we talked about and your own personal goals. Be specific with the amount of time you’ll need to complete the workout, recover, and eat well.
You may be surprised how little time is required to make it happen, especially if you do a workout routine at home or you jog around your neighborhood for cardio. Keep that schedule on hand to remind yourself to stay committed and let no excuses get in your way from now on.
9. Track Your Progress Daily
With your schedule set, you’ll want to give yourself daily progress reports in the form of a journal or debrief with a workout partner. Perhaps a check in with our Body FX Facebook Group even!
You can also wear a smartwatch or fitness band that will monitor things like heart rate, total steps, and calorie output. These things may not mean much day to day, but you can track these trends over time and adjust accordingly.
These habits will have you stay accountable to yourself and the people around you. Document your journey and you’ll find it way easier to improve.
10. Become Part of a Team
Fitness is a lifelong road with no end, and you’ll need some extra support to stay on course. Our online fitness community is a great place to post daily reports and get feedback from people who share your goals.
Maybe your current routine needs an upgrade, or you’re ready to take on resistance training for the first time but not sure how to begin. Just ask the group for advice and your coaches and teammates will be there with the answers.
Accountability is invaluable in fitness and life, so use it to your advantage.
A balanced workout routine is a key to long-term fitness success, so create your own with these tips in mind. Over time, you can build on this foundation and level up your results.