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Figuring out how often you should exercise can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to the world of fitness. No one answer works for everyone. How often you should exercise varies for each person based on several factors like your current fitness level, age, and fitness goals. Here are some tips that will help you to craft the ideal fitness plan that gets you closer to your fitness goals, and help you figure out how many workouts you need per week to reach your fitness goals.
If your primary goal is to lose weight, working out more frequently can help you to reach your fitness goals sooner.
Generally, you should aim to lose no more than two pounds per week to minimize muscle mass. The key to reaching any weight loss goal is burning more calories than you consume. Dieting is equally as important as cardiovascular exercise when it comes to weight loss and maintaining a healthier weight.
Aim for about five workouts per week to maximize weight loss, while consuming a low-calorie diet. However, your body likely won’t be able to handle so many workouts if you’re new to exercising. Beginners should aim for two or three workouts per week to build their strength up before moving up to five workouts per week.
The ideal weight loss fitness plan should include:
- Cardiovascular workouts
- Core exercises
- Strength training
- Stretching exercises
For best results, cardio exercises and strength training should make up the bulk of your fitness routine. Lifting weights helps to build lean muscle mass – which requires more calories to maintain than fatty tissues, even during rest.
Cardiovascular exercise helps to burn calories, moving you closer to your weight loss goals. The benefits of cardiovascular exercise don’t stop there, though. It also helps to decrease stress, increases endurance, improves sleep, and improves your mood.
Many fitness trainers recommend aiming for five sessions of moderate-intensity cardio exercises per week, or three 25-minute sessions of intense aerobic activities like martial arts classes or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) per week. You can also go with about two moderate-intensity cardio sessions and two high-intensity training sessions per week.
Strength training improves the way your muscles look, strengthens your bones, and increases your metabolism, making it easier to keep fat off your frame.
About two or three workouts a week is enough for serious gains. Focus your workouts mostly around compound exercises like bench presses, squats, and deadlifts. Add isolated exercises like bicep curls to target muscles you want to focus on. Targeting each muscle group once a week is enough to push your muscles to grow bigger. Try to get a rest day in between each workout. Rest days can be used for moderate-intensity or low-intensity cardiovascular activities.
To get the most of your strength training program:
- Eat a protein-rich diet. Aim to consume one gram of protein for each kilogram of your body weight daily
- Limit cardiovascular workouts if bulking up is your primary goal
- Switch up exercises frequently, so your muscles are being targeted from different angles. This leads to better-defined muscles
- Explore proven supplements like creatine to maximize muscle growth
- Drink lots of water. There’s a reason why those big burly guys in the gym walk around with 1-gallon water bottles. It helps to repair and build muscles, and it’s needed to digest proteins
- Use circuit training to incorporate cardio into your workouts and increase calorie burn when shredding
- Take at least two days off each week
- Aim for eight hours of sleep each night
Dieting For Muscle-building
The proper diet for your muscle-building routine varies based on your specific goals. If your goal is to build bigger muscles and become bulkier, you need to have a protein-rich diet that gives you a caloric surplus daily. If you’re trying to maintain your muscles while shedding fat, you’ll need a protein-rich diet that leaves you with a caloric deficit daily.
Getting adequate amounts of protein is essential when it comes to building muscles. It is an essential nutrient that is used to build and repair tissues all over the body. About one gram of protein per kilogram is needed to build and repair muscle tissues damaged during your workouts.
Spacing out meals also helps with building muscles since it puts the body in an anabolic state. Instead of three regular-sized meals, aim for five to six smaller meals spread out all over the day. Ideally, meals should be no more than three hours apart. Protein shakes and mass gainers count as meals, so use them to make things easier for yourself. For example, you can simply eat three smaller regular meals daily, while drinking two protein shakes in between meals.
Cardiovascular workouts can be a bad thing when trying to build muscle if you overdo them. Remember, you need a caloric surplus to bulk up, and cardio workouts burn calories. Make sure any calories burned during cardio workouts are replaced during meals when bulking.
Why Your Body Type Matters
There are three main body types which are ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. Ectomorphs are naturally skinny people who do not seem to put on much weight regardless of what they eat. Mesomorphs gain weight easily when they overeat, but they can lose it just as quickly as they put it on. These are generally the most athletic people. Endomorphs are people who gain weight easily and have a hard time getting it off. These are typically the least athletic type of people.
Understanding where you fall on this spectrum makes it easier to reach your fitness goals. For example, an ectomorph might get away with not being disciplined with their diet, while an endomorph needs to be extremely disciplined with their diet and workouts to lose any weight.
Ectomorphs typically have the hardest time putting on muscle, so they need to be extra disciplined with their weight training, focusing primarily on heavy weights and low reps.
Understanding how your body type affects your metabolism makes it easier to craft a workout program that takes advantage of it, instead of letting it negatively impact your workout goals. Working out is a lifestyle and the benefits last a lifetime if you stick with it.