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HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WORK OUT?

CONSIDERATIONS

Obviously, a simplistic answer to “how often” would be at best very misleading. We all differ in a multitude of ways, such as:

  • Our physical condition
  • Our schedule, or time we may devote to workouts
  • Our workout background, or lack thereof
  • Our access to equipment
  • Our knowledge of specific exercise routines and movements
  • Our doctor’s advice

Another salient point to establish would be our general or specific goals. What are we seeking to accomplish? Our options are many, such as:

  • To lose weight
  • To gain weight
  • To gain strength or muscularity
  • To gain strength / muscularity as we lose weight
  • To increase aerobic capacity
  • To prepare for a sport
  • To achieve a better appearance
  • To improve our health and fitness

The above list could go on and on and there could be quite a few combinations of more than one of those goals. Another goal might be the reduction of a specific body part, such as the waist line. Bear in mind: we can certainly reduce our waist, but not without also reducing our entire body as we do so. There is no spot reduction.

Let me hasten to say that my reference is to workout results. Cool sculpting and other medical procedures are not within my purview, though cool sculpting seems to be gaining popularity as a means to quickly get rid of specific body fat.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

My background may or may not be relevant to that of anyone else, but it will at least show a history of different exercise plans at different stages.

  • Elementary school – backyard and school yard baseball, football and basketball
  • Junior high school – basketball and football competition
  • High school – basketball and tennis competition, beginning weight training. I was working out every other day, with barbells only. 3 sets each of bench presses, rowing motion, military press, curls, squats and calf raises. Weights were as heavy as possible. Workouts were about one hour or slightly more. Gains seemed almost immediate.
  • College – tennis competition, intramural sports. Weight training (45 minutes) 3 times per week with further gains. Tennis matches twice per week, otherwise practice every day, weather permitting. No weight workout on days of tennis matches, as opposed to tennis practice.
  • Afterward – lots of tennis – 3-4 times per week, but only sporadic weight training. Tennis activity was about 1 1/2 hour.
  • Senior decline – arthritic knees and back, thus no more serious tennis. Workouts at gyms, with Nautilus machines. Some weight gain. Gym workouts were generally for at least an hour.
  • Previous 10 years – home workouts, cardio and resistance training. Treadmill, inversion table, dumbbells, resistance cords and Bullworker products regularly used. Abdominal training every day. Cardio every day. Workout time is about an hour. Specific upper body work – 3 times per week.

See the Bullworker Bow Classic below. I consistently use the Bullworker Bow Classic and Steel Bow.

Here is the entire Bullworker line


See my inversion table below. I was able to suspend myself upside down for treatment of sciatic pain.

See pricing information for the Teeter inversion table from Amazon, my model, as upgraded in recent years

See my Nordic Track treadmill below. This is the current source of most of my cardio exercise.

Here is the Nordic Track, most similar to mine, but with a few upgrades

See below a well organized set of dumbbells from Amazon. Note the A-frame rack.

Check it out

As can be seen above, my personal workout times have generally been about an hour. But even the energy of youth would not allow me the intensity of a workout on the same day as a sports event. Sports came first.

At this point, I generally do 30 minutes of resistance training and another 30 minutes of cardio every day. The sets, reps and muscle groups for resistance are never the same on two successive days. There are times that my energy level is low or my lack of sleep is an issue. On those occasions, I modify things or take the day off.

WORKOUT PLANS

Let’s proceed with these assumptions:

  • Workout time will be one hour or slightly more in one day
  • The entire body will be worked during a week
  • Cardio and resistance training will be incorporated during a week
  • Weighted resistance will vary with our level of training
  • The value of rest will be an important consideration.
  • Choices of programs and variances thereof will be based on individual goals

3 DAYS PER WEEK – this is a good starting plan for beginners or for those with limited workout time scheduled. Please note that famous bodybuilder and movie star Steve Reeves always used this plan, but his workout duration was far more than one hour in a day. He did 30 sets of 10 – 12 reps. He maintained a very strict diet, high in fruits and vegetables. He did not use steroids and did not have access to modern equipment. He trained on Monday and Wednesday mornings and finished the week on Friday evenings. He was very careful to incorporate plenty of recovery time during the week. His cardio was primarily power walking with long strides. Steve Reeves was famous during the mid 1950s. He is shown below. His routine is cited only to show that he used no split routines and strongly believed in rest, not to suggest that the average person would do 30 intense sets in one workout.

RESISTANCE EXERCISE ONE DAY, CARDIO THE NEXT. REST ON SUNDAY – this is a good way to add more sets and reps within an hour’s time and to also create more cardio time.

UPPER BODY AND CARDIO ONE DAY, LOWER BODY AND CARDIO THE NEXT. REST ON SUNDAY – this program would appeal to those who wish to train harder on the bodybuilding aspect. More time would be scheduled for upper torso and legs. Abdominals might be considered a lower body part. Cardio would be slightly decreased, but still maintained.

PUSH / PULL – this is an advanced routine to add more sets and reps to the upper body. On Monday, the “pushing” muscles are stressed. These are the chest and triceps muscles. Cardio would be included. On Tuesday, the “pulling muscles” would be trained, i.e. the back, biceps and shoulders. Wednesday would be a day of rest. Thursday would duplicate Monday and Friday would duplicate Tuesday. Saturday and Sunday would be rest days. Since the upper body is trained on consecutive days, the theory is that more rest would allow for this.

There are plans for cardio only and for resistance only. Maybe we could do strictly cardio one week, strictly resistance training the next. I have used plans for lesser energy – 10 minutes of abdominals training and 20 minutes on my treadmill. This is better than doing nothing.

It is important to note that fat loss is more readily achieved when weighted resistance accompanies cardio. It follows that fat loss is much healthier than mere weight loss. Our resting metabolism is enhanced by adding strength training to cardio.

CONCLUSIONS

It is vital to consistently work out, while adding variety to prevent boredom or burnout. How often and how long are both somewhat subjective. Some options to consider are outlined above and hopefully will be of assistance.

Rest and recovery are significant considerations. Muscle tissue is stimulated when exercised, but only grows during rest.

Please leave any comments or questions in the “Comments” box below, or e-mail me – richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Keep moving. Be well!

Richard

12 Comments

  1. Oh wow, you really have some really good work out equipment here. i think that working out really depends on what your goal is just like you have said here. I also have to agree that working out has to be well timed or one will lose consistency. For me, i work out four times a week and that is just so i can keep fit. Nice post and very educative, i really like your dumbbells.

  2. Interesting article about working out. It’s good to see what your workout schedule has been over the years. You have been very dedicated to keeping yourself fit and healthy. Also, the equipment looks state of the art and good for anyone to use. Not many people can be that serious about staying fit.Thanks for sharing, Deanna 

  3. Hello Richard, thanks for  sharing this really vital post. Working out is an essential aspect of ones daily life because it helps alert the body system and keeps it running for the day. But however as essential as working out can be there should be limits to it and proper schedule so it wouldn’t affect other activities. Now looking at the tios youbahve given as to picking the right planning to when one would work out, I trust it would help sharpen things to go well without one affecting the other. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks Richard! I need to work out more, and you have a humble
    tone that helped me receive your message. I think it would be cool for
    you to offer a pdf print-out of a work out routine, and you offer that
    to them for giving you their e-mail or phone number. Maybe you offer
    some sort of supplement in addition.

    I have an Indian herb called ashwagandha that has been shown to
    increase muscle bulk, recovery times, and it is an ancient herb like
    something in tea.

    I have also heard of choline sources selling well with body builders,
    which is like the stuff that provides the memory fuel to acetylcholine
    receptors. I am not sure how it works with body builder though… plus I
    think offering natural supplements that are healthy, instead of filled
    with unnatural ingredients that cause a spike in blood pressure and a
    rush of anger is better. Instead, it is a positive attitude and a
    feeling of well-being.

    Regardless if you like that idea (I am kind of a nootropic nut
    myself, as it’s one of the niches i chose), I have heard of a software
    that can animate images. I think the more interactive the web page is,
    the better the chance of converting. One way to increase this is by
    animating the images. It is hard to do using the adobe suite but some of
    the affiliate networks that WA works with can provide it for purchase.

    Or you could do a podcast about wellness. If you are interested in
    doing a segment about that, I am hoping to start a podcast about Health
    & Wellness soon, and would help get it out there. If you want to
    offer a free consultation, I will offer some Ginkgo Biloba, which is a
    supplement that helps me think more clearly. Let me know if you would be
    interesting in collaborating.

    In any case, I think you have a great future ahead with this blog and I wish you the best of luck.

    • Thanks, Hayden, for your progressive suggestions. I have used Ginkgo Biloba in the past and may want to resume with it. Presenting a workout routine to someone I have not seen seems risky. I want to make general suggestions with options from which one may choose. A specific workout program would include knowledge that I would not have – doctors’ findings, general health, strength level, blood pressure, etc.

  5. First, i have to agree that many different people work out for different reasons an that is why it is important to ask yourself this question before knowing how often you’d want to work out. You have done good justice to the topic of discourse and i will also try to get some equipment’s but id start with working out only two times a week, at least for a start. Nice one!

  6. Hi Richar, I enjoyed reading your post. I am into exercising my body. I go for 30 – 45 minute walks and I do 30 minute aerobics but after reading your post I realised I need to be doing a lot more. I never knew muscles are stimulated when exercising but grow when one sleeps. That’s one I definitely need to try. I also need to get more rest now that I know how important it is. 

  7. Thanks, Juliet! Muscle fibers are broken down by resistance exercise and grow during rest, sleep or otherwise. It seems that you are really into the cardio aspect, which is great. Some muscle building will increase your metabolic rate so that you are burning calories while at rest.

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