As a personal training gym, a question we often get asked is ‘how often should I train?

In short, it depends on multiple factors.

Something to keep in mind, is that even if you only manage to train once a week you’ll still reap the benefits of exercise!

Doing a quick Google search will throw loads of technical advice on how often you should train. For example, Healthline suggests that to you should be weight training at least 3 times a week to optimise muscle growth. 

Technically they might be correct, HOWEVER, as we debunk later on, how much you train will depend on so many factors.

So, without further ado, let’s look at what plays a part in how often you should train…

Fitness Level 

The obvious place to start is how conditioned is your body?

If you have never lifted a weight in your life, training 2-3 times a week will be plenty. 

At first it’s very tempting to go hell for leather and train as much as possible. 

Why’s this a problem?

Well, this could very easily lead you to overtraining and burning out, which in turn will result in you giving up.

In the early days your body will not be used to training and will need a longer time to recover and repair – training any more than 2-3 times a week will not allow for this.

SELF wrote a very good article that debunks some myths around rest days, which you can find here. 

On the flip side, if you’ve been training for a longer period of time and are more conditioned then you can look at training at 4-6 times a week.

Again, it depends on how you’re feeling. It’s very important to listen to your body and make a judgement from there (this won’t be the last time we say this!).

personal trainer worthing

Lifestyle

Now, what a lot of advice online will not take into consideration is that you’re a normal human being.

You’ll be juggling plenty of additional things beyond training in the gym. Such as children, work, social life and everything in between.

Let’s say you’ve told yourself you will definitely train 3 times a week – sounds amazing and is a good target. However, training 3 times a week could be difficult at certain times of the year, for example, school holidays.

You’ll have more on your plate than normal and maybe that week you will train once, twice or maybe not at all (shock horror).

Does this mean you shouldn’t bother?

Absolutely not. 

It means that you’ll simply have some weeks where you manage to train more than others. An off week here or there is not going to be detrimental to your health and fitness goals.

In addition, if you’re a busy person who is spinning many different plates becoming super-efficient with your workouts is very important. This is when a personal trainer could be very beneficial. They’ll provide the structure, guidance and ensure you’re getting the most out of each session – our latest podcast talks all about why you might need a personal trainer, which you can find here.

Saying this, finding a personal trainer that fits into your busy schedule will be crucial. A lot of individual personal training business owners have very limited availability as they are a one-man band. 

This is where Intent91 comes into its own (shameless plug, I know) but we run sessions on the hour, every hour throughout the day – so it’s never been easier to train as we fit into your busy schedule.

Anyway enough about us… the point is that exercise and going to the gym can fit into your life, you just need to find the right environment that gives you the best chance of achieving your goals.

Which leads us on nicely to our next factor, your goals…

how often should I train

Goals 

What are you trying to achieve?

If you’re training for an Olympic gold medal, you might need to train 6 days a week as well as eat a very well balanced diet, sleep 8 hours and make sure your health and fitness is in optimal condition.

BUT, funnily enough the majority of us aren’t in this situation. 

In fact, at our personal training gym in Worthing we have no Olympic athletes that train with us – even if the coaches try to tell you different. 

So why do your goals matter?

Well, the majority of our members train with us to move and feel better day to day and want to give their body the best chance of living a healthy and happy life. 

At the same, they probably like a glass of wine and a takeaway on the weekend (so do our coaches), and who can blame them!

Training 2-4 times a week is enough to ensure you feel stronger, fitter and healthier both mentally and physically.

Furthermore, exercise is just one key pillar to achieving this. Sleep, nutrition, stress levels and many more factors play an important part in your health and fitness journey. 

It comes down to priorities, if your priority is to spend time with your friends at the pub on a Thursday night then potentially training might be sacrificed. Different stages in your life will allow for you to train more and sometimes it will be less. 

Can I over train?

In short, yes you can. 

Like we touched on earlier, if you go too hard to soon you’ll potentially get burnt out and increase your risk of injury.

What if you’ve been training for years? Can I train 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Absolutely you could!  

However, if any if the following occur it might be a sign you are overtraining: (Health Essential)

  • A profound feeling of fatigued.
  • Energy loss.
  • Chronic colds, infections and other illnesses.
  • Insomnia.
  • Weight gain.
  • Stamina decline.
  • For women, a loss of their period. 

We all love the feeling after a workout so we aren’t saying that training 7 days a week, 365 days a year is a problem (far from it), it’s just incredibly important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.

Apologies for another shameless plug, but at Intent91, our personal trainers will always take care of our members and meet them where they’re at on that day. For example, if a member is feeling fatigued in their legs, then the coaches will tailor the programme so that it focuses on their upper body.

So if you find yourself doing the same session every day and your chest is starting to really hurt – it might be time you look at investing in a personal trainer that can provide you with the knowledge to perform different programmes.

personal training gym worthing

What should I do on rest days?

We’ll write a more in-depth blog around rest days, saying this, here are some tips for what to do when you’re recovering from a workout.

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • Fuel your body! You wouldn’t expect your car to drive without fuel, so don’t expect the same from your body. Eat plenty of protein, as this is crucial for your muscles to repair and grow!
  • Sleep – a potentially tough one if you have children or are busy at work. However, sleep will help you recover much faster.
  • Stay active, a light walk will loosen your muscles and help you recover.

A final note…

Apologies for the lack of definitive answer but like we previously discussed – how often you train will depend on many factors!

A key takeaway is to listen to your body and ensure that when you do workout, it’s effective and you move optimally but also safely.

We always like hearing from you, so please do email us if you have any questions. This doesn’t necessarily need to be about our personal training gym in Worthing, it could just be any training question!