Time is precious, and so is your health. Finding the time to work out throughout your week is important, but exactly how much time is needed?

In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about exercise frequency, including how often you should exercise to maintain good health, whether it’s okay to exercise every day, and how to structure your workouts throughout the week to achieve different results.

How Much Should an Average Adult Exercise Every Day?

The average adult should exercise for 30 minutes per day. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week plus two days of strength training. To break that down within a week, the average adult should perform 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week and do strength training twice a week on top of that. 

How you spend your 30 minutes per day will vary based on your fitness goals. 

For general health

Here’s an example of how your week could look if your goal is to maintain good general health:

  • Monday: Cardio (e.g. brisk walking) (30 minutes)
  • Tuesday: Total-body strength training (30 minutes)
  • Wednesday: Active recovery (e.g. yoga) (30 minutes)
  • Thursday: Total-body strength training (30 minutes)
  • Friday: Cardio (e.g. dance cardio) (30 minutes)
  • Saturday: Active recovery (e.g. Pilates) (30 minutes)
  • Sunday: Cardio (e.g. brisk walking) (30 minutes)

For weight loss

If your goal is weight loss, you should include both aerobic exercise and strength training as part of your workout plan. Your active recovery will consist of a brisk walk to get your heart rate up and burn extra calories. 

Here’s an example of how your week could look if your goal is to lose weight: 

  • Monday: Cardio + Strength circuit (30 minutes)
  • Tuesday: Total-body strength training (30 minutes)
  • Wednesday: Cardio (e.g Tabata) (30 minutes)
  • Thursday: Active Recovery (e.g. a brisk walk) (30 minutes)
  • Friday: Total-body strength training (30 minutes)
  • Saturday: Cardio (e.g. dance cardio) (30 minutes)
  • Sunday: Active recovery (e.g. a brisk walk) (30 minutes)

For weight loss specifically, this will also rely on a change to your diet (energy in vs. energy out). 

For building muscle

If your goal is to build lean muscle mass, you should spend more time focusing on lifting weights than cardio throughout the week. You’ll want to spend three to four days a week strength training, then incorporate some aerobic exercise and active recovery into the rest of your week. 

It should be noted that building muscle requires longer rest periods between sets so getting in 30-minutes of weight training may actually require more than 30 minutes.

Here’s an example of how your week could look if your goal is to build muscle. Although there are several ways to create a strength training workout split, the split below is an upper/lower-body split, which has proven to be effective in allowing muscle groups to recover on the days you’re training other muscles.

Note: These exercise plans are just general guidelines. Since everyone has different goals and limitations, weekly workout plans will vary and should be based on S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals.

By the way, you don't need a fancy gym membership to accomplish your fitness goals. Building a home gym only requires a few essential pieces of equipment, such as a yoga mat, dumbbells, resistance bands, and a foam roller. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish with the basics.

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Is It OK to Exercise Every Day?

Yes. It’s okay to exercise every day. In fact, it’s encouraged. You just need to make sure you’re doing the right types of exercises each day to properly train your body and not compromise your progress or physical well-being.

For example, you shouldn’t do push-ups every day. Adding excessive load to a muscle each day can lead to overtraining. Overtraining is when you don’t give your muscles adequate recovery time after repetitive and intense training. This can lead to fatigue, declining performance, and potential injury.

To avoid overtraining you should give each major muscle group at least one or two days to rest and recover before training them again. While one muscle group recovers, you can train another muscle group so you don’t have to take a full day off working out altogether. This is called split training. A common approach to this is to split upper and lower body workout sessions, like the above example.

You can also incorporate active rest into your weekly routine to help your muscles recover properly. For example, if you did a full-body workout one day that targeted all your major muscle groups, the next day could be an active recovery day where you do a low-intensity activity or one that’s more cardio-focused like walking, running, or swimming.

Lastly, when working out every day, make sure you’re warming up and cooling down properly. This helps you get the most out of your workout and assists in muscle recovery.

How Many Days a Week Should You Exercise?

While you don’t necessarily need to exercise everyday, you should be active every day, whether that means doing an actual workout or just taking a walk. It really depends on what exercise is to you because what counts as exercise to one person might be different for the next person based on fitness levels and fitness goals. 

Is Working Out 3 Times a Week Enough?

Working out three times a week would be enough to maintain good health and achieve your fitness goals if your workouts were long enough. In order to meet CDC recommended guidelines of 150 minutes a week plus two weight training sessions, each workout would need to be 50 minutes long, plus 20 minutes of resistance training. In this case, you would combine your cardio workouts and your strength workouts into one workout. This might be more realistic for some people depending on their weekly schedules, and that’s totally fine. 

It’s less about how many days a week you work out and more about how much time you put in each week that matters. 

The main focus throughout your week should be making time to move your body. This is especially important if you sit for a large period of your day. Simple ways to move your body include taking regular walks and stretching. Not every day needs to be an intense workout, but you should prioritize at least 30 minutes per day for some form of activity.

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