How many days per week should I train?
This is one of the more common questions I get asked.
It basically means, "How often do I need to come to the gym in order to see results?"
As you’ve probably anticipated, my answer is not the simple one you’re looking for. I get it. Life would be so much simpler if I could just answer a question like that with a straight forward “four.” The answer is clear and defined. Easy, right? Now all you have to do is figure out how to get those four sessions in every week. And many gym owners will tell you something very much like that.
Except maybe four is right and maybe it’s not. Four may actually be more of a reflection of how many sessions the gym owner needs you to buy in order to meet his own monthly expenses and has no actual bearing on what would help you reach your goals.
So I’m gonna answer this question with an ironically more accurate “It depends.” And then I’m going delve a little deeper into the details so you can make a more educated decision.
Here’s what I can tell you with absolute certainty. You should find a way to move every single day. That doesn’t mean you need to be in the gym every day but it does mean you need to find a way to “do something.” That something could be any of a million different things. Go for a 20 minute walk. Have sex. Get down on the floor and roll around exploring movement and flow. If you have someone to do that with, who knows? It might lead to sex. Do calisthenics for 20 minutes. Take a yoga class. Go for a hike. Swim. Garden or mow your own grass. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something - everyday.
As for the gym, that depends on your goals. Most of the adults I see coming into my gym are somewhat de-conditioned. They haven’t been following my general rule of fitness - move everyday - and they need a gradual introduction into being more active. That means I’d like to see them either one on one or in a class two times a week and I want them to work on getting in additional movement on the days they’re not training with me. If a client is elderly or really de-conditioned we may start with just once a week, but I will transition them to two as quickly as possible. Once they are ready, we will add additional days as appropriate. Two days a week is an introductory frequency. As the client adjusts to the work load, we need to up the frequency to see more results.
At Agoge Fitness Systems we offer three different, yet complimentary styles of classes - Progressive Strength Training, Courage Martial Arts, and everyBODY Yoga. We feel that the ideal picture of health encompasses strength, a healthy body composition and cardiovascular system, and adequate flexibility and mobility.
Over the years I have identified three different types of client, based on their needs and goals. You may find yourself reflected in one of the following examples.
Just Right Jody
If your goal is to maintain strength and retain the muscle mass you have, you may be a Just Right Jody. For Jodys, two days a week of strength training can be adequate, but an additional day of cardio or mobility and flexibility work will benefit overall health. Cardio is not just for fat loss. Training the cardiovascular system increases circulation, facilitates the delivery of nutrients and the elimination of waste, and helps maintain a healthy blood pressure. Flexibility work supports better movement and increases the harmonious flow of the various bodily systems.
Big Change Charlie
If you’re actively trying to alter your body composition, you're a Big Change Charlie. In order to gain muscle or lose fat, more days in the gym are necessary. The key to avoiding over-training is to choose how you spend those days wisely. To build significant muscle mass, three or even four days of strength training are recommended. At Agoge Fitness Systems we’ll steer you more toward three days per week if you’re looking to stay within the Progressive Strength Training classes. Four days a week are possible with Private Sessions, either as an add-on to your classes or as a stand alone program. If fat loss is your goal, we will first spend time building your work capacity and getting your body ready for increased levels of activity. Then, depending on your needs, we’ll recommend an appropriate combination of Progressive Strength Training, Courage Martial Arts, and everyBODY Yoga.
Gung Ho Gerties are advanced trainees. They have high work capacities and several years of gym experience. For Gerties, five or even six days a week are possible. Variety is key to avoiding burnout and over training. I train myself six days a week, cycling through a combination of strength, martial arts, and mobility workouts.
Understand, the above recommendations are based on ideal circumstances. They assume you have the necessary time and resources to devote to optimal training and achieving your goals as quickly and safely as possible. Very few of us live in a world that allows for adequate time and resources. We must all work within our own circumstances. We start from what’s ideal and work our way back to what’s possible. That’s why finding ways to move everyday becomes so crucial. As much as it might help my own bottom line, the point of the gym is to better prepare you for life, not just to get better at gymming.
It’s at this point that the initial consultation, when you’re just joining the gym, or a follow up consultation (a Goal Setting/Strategy Session), as a member, becomes so important. We can help you figure out what’s possible and map out a plan, based on your own particular needs, to get you where you want to go whether you're a Just Right Jody, a Big Change Charlie, or a Gung-Ho Gertie.
To our perfect imperfection,