Too much of anything is not good. When engaging in any exercise routine, too little of it will also not give you the desired results. The need to strike an optimum balance in exercise leads to the question, how often should you exercise? We did extensive research on this question and came up with the right answers for you.

People do exercises for different reasons. Maybe you just want to tone your muscles. Another person may exercise to shed off some weight. Or you may do it to just clear your mind from a long day at work. Whichever your intentions for the workouts, there are limits for your body. Knowing these limits is important for you to enjoy the maximum benefits from exercise.

Doing regular exercises is a good habit for both your body and mental health. The health benefits include reducing blood pressure, lowering risks of type 2 diabetes, reducing body fat, maintaining immune functioning, and lowering risks of dementia. In addition, exercises can boost your memory, improve mood, promote better sleep, and boost your energy. Doing the right amount of exercises - not too much and not too little - will help you enjoy these benefits.

How Often Should You Exercise?

So, how often should you exercise? The golden rule is to exercise at least three times a week. Each of your workouts should last for around 30 to 60 minutes. Based on this routine, your exercises should be confined to 90 to 180 minutes per week. However, there are several variations in the timing and regularity of the exercise depending on a person's body, type of exercises being done, and goals. It is common for people to exercise four times a week, or even five times a week.

A beginner is not expected to do the same type of routine as an intermediate or advanced fitness enthusiast. Also, strength training and cardio are different exercises with different requirements from your body. The time allocated to each exercise should not necessarily be the same. Also, you should have rest days. This means that you should not exercise on all seven days of the week.

A beginner is expected to take fewer training sessions as their body gets conditioned to the workout. The level of training notwithstanding, the most important factor, once the body gets conditioned, is the type of exercises. In answering the question of how often should you exercise, the answers are broken down into different types of exercises - mainly cardio and strength training.

Type of Exercise Matters

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Some people prefer to strictly do cardio such as jogging, while others prefer strength training such as weight lifting. If you decide to combine them in your workout routine - cardio and strength training - the amount of each exercise is determined by your goals. If your goal is to add muscle, you should do more strength training than cardio. For example, if you decide to work out five days a week, three should be dedicated to strength training and two for cardio.

The remaining two days are for active rest. Alternatively, if your goal is to increase endurance, then you should go for three days of cardio and two for strength training.


Your goals can also be determined by what you want your body to achieve, such as losing weight. So how often should you exercise to lose weight? There is an assumption that if you are overweight, then the more time you take working out, the more weight you'll lose. Extreme workouts can be counterproductive, and you may end up harming your body. You should not try to exercise for three to four hours a day, seven days a week, in a rush to lose weight.

You should aim for 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week in order to lose weight. This translates to an hour of exercise five days a week. Remember, the bottom line is to lose more calories than you take in, and your diet should be factored in when planning your weight loss journey. Be sure to incorporate strength training for toning your muscles even as you lose weight. Strength training enables you to lose more calories even when resting.

If your sole purpose of exercising is to tone your body, do more strength training and keep your cardio to 150 minutes per week. You can start with strength training two or three times a week and add another day once you're ready to up the intensity. You can then do four days of strength training each week. We will now break down how often should you exercise and for how long.


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Frequency: 2-3 Times per Week

The recommended time for cardio exercises is 150 minutes per week. This means you can do 30 minutes a day for five days, around 40 minutes a day for four days, or 50 minutes a day for three days. We recommend that you do cardio two to three times a week, and you should aim for the 50 minutes per day workout, three days a week. It all depends on your schedule and how you want to work out. If you prefer the shorter sessions, make sure you incorporate exercises that make the sessions more intense.

How to Do Cardio

There are several options when it comes to cardio. You may go for the elliptical machine or decide to jog. You may also decide to hit the treadmill or skip rope. You can also join cardio classes such as kickboxing, high-intensity interval training classes, indoor cycling, treadmill classes, dance cardio, rowing classes, and more - the list goes on. You should aim for 120-150 heartbeats per minute when doing your cardio. The sessions should last 45 to 60 minutes.

The advantage of cardio exercises is that they keep your circulatory system working optimally. These exercises keep your endurance up. In addition, cardio exercises increase VO2 max, helping your body utilize oxygen.

Strength Training

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Frequency: 2-3 Times per Week

Your strength training exercises should also last for around 45 to 60 minutes. You should start the exercises with a quick warm up and end with stretching. We recommend that you do strength training no more than three times a week.

How to Do Strength Training

By now, you have already realized that how often should you exercise also depends on how you do the exercises. When it comes to strength training, you should aim to train for two to three times a week. You should target each muscle group. This means you should do full body workouts that target both your upper and lower body. Specific target areas include your chest, shoulders, arms, core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and back.

Another question you may ask your self is when to increase the intensity. For example, when should you increase weight when bench pressing? It depends on your ability, and you should only up the intensity when you feel strong enough to do so. This means that when you can carry or lift the regular weight with ease, and you need more challenge, then you can add some weight. It might take you four to six weeks before you feel ready to increase the weight. However, there is always an upper limit for everyone, and you should take note of that when working out.

Weight lifting is the main exercise when it comes to strength training, and there are different variations of the exercise. Bench pressing, deadlifts, and rows are a few examples of weightlifting exercises. Strength training can also incorporate bodyweight exercises such as pushups and squats. You can also join strength training classes such as CrossFit, TRX classes, and boot camp-style sessions.


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A regular pattern of exercise can make it a boring routine. You should be doing several variations of the exercises to make them more interesting. Also, you can have different days for different intensity - hard days and easy days.

Hard days are for high-intensity workouts, and easy days are for allowing your body to recover. You can also have moderate days for building endurance. Short and hard workouts - during hard days - should last 20 to 30 minutes. This is because your body cannot work very hard for long.

Rest Days

After answering your question on how often you should exercise, we need to discuss how often you should rest, and why. You should rest two days  a week. If you work out five days a week, the remaining two days are for your body to rest and recover.

The rest days help your body to recover and rebuild. Once you get back to your workout, your body is refreshed and ready to go on. Your rest should be active. This does not mean you hit the gym for light exercises. Rather, it means you can take walks on your rest days. You can also do some yoga or stretching. The active sessions should last for between 30 to 60 minutes.

So where should you place the rest days? Should they be in between the workout days or after the last day of consecutive workouts? Well, it all depends on you. You can fix them in between the workout days, or push them to the end of the week. This means that if you exercise from Monday to Friday, you should rest the whole weekend - Saturday and Sunday.

You can also decide to work for two consecutive days and rest on the third day. Although the order of the rest day doesn't matter, we recommend that you do not do strength training for two consecutive days. Take a rest after weight lifting to give your muscles time to recover. If you decide to do strength training for two days in a row, then you should train different parts of the body on the two days.

You should also aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night if you train regularly. When sleeping, your body is not only resting but also burns fat, grows stronger, and rebuilds damaged tissue.


How often should you exercise depends on your level of training, your goals, and type of exercise routine. Overall, you should do your cardio two to three times a week, with each session lasting for around 45 to 60 minutes. Similarly, you should do strength training two to three days a week, with each session lasting 45 to 60 minutes. Make sure you have enough rest days and sleep.

Author: Allen Wilterdink

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