How Often Should You Be Exercising?

How Often Should You Be Exercising?

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How often should you be exercising to get the best results?

Whether you want to know how to lose belly fat with my Marc Dressen training sessions, or you’re searching for ways to build muscle, it can be difficult to figure out how you’re supposed to schedule your week for the best outcomes.

Some of the self-professed experts out there say that you need to be in the gym literally every day of the week if you want to propel yourself along the path to success, while others claim that you can still achieve greatness with just one or two workouts a week.

So, what’s the real story?

Or is there really no one-size fits all approach to working out? In this article, I’m going to give you the answer on how you can gain muscle faster, get rid of excess fat, and enjoy more from your workouts. No matter what you’re trying to achieve with your fitness routine, I can help you reach your fitness goals.

Let’s get started.

How Often Should You Exercise to Build Muscle?

Before I start doling out advice on muscle building, let’s take a moment to reflect on how muscle growth works – something I’ve addressed before in some of my older blog posts. Despite what some bodybuilding magazines might say, the driver of muscle growth isn’t metabolic conditioning or anything like that. Instead, it’s all about progressive tension overload.

In other words, getting incredible muscles comes down to increasing the levels of tension that you expose your muscle fibers to over time. The most effective way to do this, is to progressively build on the amount of weight that you lift. If you’re not constantly adding more weight to the bar, then you could be missing out on some serious muscle-building power.

Another factor that influences muscle growth is muscle damage – which is what happens when you expose your muscles to higher-than-usual levels of tension. It’s important to repair the damage that you do to your muscles, of course, which is why it’s so important to eat right, and rest during your workout schedules.

The final factor to think about is metabolic stress, which is the amount of stress working muscle fibers undergo when they’re approaching their metabolic limits through the repetitions of various actions.

The unfortunate news is that there aren’t any set guidelines out there that offer a definitive approach to how often you should be training to get the right results. Ultimately, all you can do is recognize that how often you train your muscles is nowhere near as important as your choices regarding volume and intensity.

If you’re training exclusively in the 85% of 1RM range, then you’d need about 60 to 80 reps per muscle group, per week. On the other hand, if you’re training at a low-weight, high-volume routine, then you’d need to get closer to about 180 reps a week.

How Often Should You Exercise to Lose Fat?

So, what about when you want to lose fat?

If you’re interested in reducing your body fat percentage, then it all comes down to one simple thing: consuming less energy than you use on a regular basis. This is basically the process of working according to the principles of energy balance.

While your nutrition and other aspects like macronutrients are important, if you don’t first focus on building an energy deficit, then you’ll find that your total fat mass won’t see any significant changes. The only thing that you can do to start making a real difference to your fat levels, is eat less, and move more.

Eating less is effective for the simple fact that it works on reducing your total caloric intake, while moving more helps to increase the number of calories that you burn overall. Just remember, while most people find it easier to cut calories and avoid exercise, this can come at the price of some serious muscle loss. If you restrict your calorie intake too much, and don’t do anything to train your muscles at the same time, you’ll end up with the “skinny fat” problem that’s so common today.

Fortunately, you can prevent some of the issues associated with skinny-fat dieting, by simply improving your body composition. This means that you don’t just focus on losing weight – but specifically losing fat. Ultimately, you’ll need to use heavy resistance training, combined with a moderate calorie restriction to get the best results.

Personally, I recommend that anyone who’s looking to lose fat should use heavy strength training solutions in their exercise regimen, and think about limiting their cardio as much as possible. Usually, this process can lead to the best results. However, there is a caveat. When you’re using a caloric deficit to lose fat, your body’s ability to repair itself after a workout can be impaired.

This simply means that you might not be able to push yourself as hard as you can when you’re taking in more energy. With that in mind, you should avoid overtraining by making sure that you stick to a maximum of around four to five hours of weightlifting per week, alongside one or two hours of cardio.

You should also consider taking at least one rest day a week, so that your body has a chance to catch up with recovery.

How Often to Exercise: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, there’s a lot of terrible advice out there about exercise frequency. That’s why I’m so focused on giving my clients results-driven solutions for success.

While the hardcore exercising crowd often think that more is better, the lazier groups amongst us prefer to think that all we need is a simple workout or two a week to keep things on track. However, if you look at the science behind it, it becomes clear that you need to find something that’s between both extremes.

Rather than trying to go too far towards one end or the other, think about how you can incorporate three to five weightlifting workouts into your week that focus on things like compound lifts and heavy training. You should also combine that with as much cardio as you need to achieve your goals. If you follow that basic guide to fitness, you’ll quickly find yourself pulling ahead of the other meatheads at the gym!

Marc Dressen
Personal Trainer London

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Photo by Becca Matimba on Unsplash