It's important for our health, but how often should we work out?

Regardless of whether you want to build muscle with the best ad j (opens in new tab) or improve your 5K run time, it is important to understand the role that workout frequency plays in structuring the order, intensity and number of workouts.

We asked an expert how many times a week you should work out.

How often should you workout?

All adults should engage in between 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, with that amount halved if workouts are more intense, according to government guidance. Some people like to do five 30-minute sessions, while others like to do three hour-long exercises a week.


The president of the European College of Sport Sciences says that optimal training frequencies are different for everyone.

He says that he could take a group of ten people with the same physical ability and give them the same training program. There would be a wide range of responses if we measured the change in their fitness.

Professor Richard Davison

How do you know what the right frequencies are for you? There are general approaches which work well.

If you're a beginner and don't fit in, you may not need a lot of workouts. An athlete will work out more than one day a week. By definition, elite athletes are special and can endure many workouts per week, but even they need to build up to that level in order to be considered normal. The rest of the day will allow them to recover. Three to five workouts per week are likely to be the norm.

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Can you workout too much?

Yes. The reasons to not neglect workouts are just as compelling as the reasons to over-train your body. Compulsive exercising can lead to physical injury and can affect your mental well-being.

"Too many sessions just do not allow the body to recover and adapt, and you end up in a downward spiral of fatigue and over-training"

Listening to your body's demands should be a top priority. There is a delicate balance between overtraining and waiting too long to work out again. The symptoms of over-training include unusual muscle soreness, noticeable dips in performance and fatigue, and should be avoided in order to protect yourself.

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How does workout style affect exercise frequency?

Everybody works out differently. It makes sense that different approaches to intensity and duration will have an effect on workout frequencies. Your ultimate goal should be the main factor in structuring your workouts.

He says that all training should be designed with an aim in mind. It will be different to train for a 100 mile sportive than it will be for a 10 mile time trial. The one that lasts up to 30 minutes is the one that lasts several hours. The intensity and the volume of workouts will be determined by your overall goal or objective.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned in the section above, it's important to modify your training routine to avoid the pitfalls of over-training. Stick to a routine, but don't do it at the expense of overexertion.

Are you varying your workouts enough?

Ensure that you rest appropriately as well as vary the type of workouts you do. If you're working towards a specific set of goals,holistic training should be the foundation of your training regimen. Even if you want to do a 100 mile sportive, you should still do intense workouts.

It is important that you follow the progressive overload principle and put your body under just enough stress and challenges so that you can see improvements.

Personal research is an important part of understanding how training frequencies apply to you as a person. It's even better if you're a coach.

The majority of people will benefit from training programmes that a good coach prescribes. They will use your feedback in conjunction with objective measurements of improvement in fitness to adapt and change the training programme to make sure that you improve towards the goal that you have set.