How Often Should You Work Out?

legs of a person using a treadmill
Curious to know how often you should work out? Here's some helpful advice for creating a workout plan that meets your goals.

by Lindsay Tigar

It's a common question for anyone looking to improve their health and fitness level: How often should you work out? The truth is, there are many factors that determine the answer to this question, including your fitness goals, activity level outside of the gym, and ability to stick to a routine consistently and long-term.

This is why, when deciding how often you should work out, it's important to consider the quantity and quality of your sweat sessions, how much time you have for the gym, and the fitness goals you want to achieve. Don't underestimate the power of consistency! Here's some advice for creating a workout plan that helps you meet your goals.

Keep Up the Momentum

So, how often should you work out? According to Brian Zehetner, Director of Health and Fitness at Planet Fitness, every other day is a good goal for most people — especially if you want to boost your metabolism.

While "every other day" is the short answer, it's likely you have a list of priorities to tend to and a busy schedule to balance — so how often you work out will depend on your goals and how much time you can dedicate to the gym. If you can't make it there every other day, simply aim to be consistent. While everyone's body works differently, remaining consistent and fitting in workouts regularly (even if it's just once or twice a week) can give you more energy and endurance, and improve your health.

Choose Quality Over Quantity

Much like any aspect of life — food, friendships, and even love — it's not really quantity that moves the needle. It's the quality. If you're working out every single day (which isn't advisable anyway) but not really giving 100 percent, your time and energy could be spent doing other things. If you want to achieve your goals, it's important to make the most of your gym sessions.

Prioritize the quality of your workout over how many times you make it to the gym in one week or how long you spend there. If you get your heart rate up and push yourself, even if it's just for 10 or 15 minutes, you've done well.

Consider Your Goals

We all have different goals that we would like to achieve in the gym. So, adjust your workouts, and how often you work out, accordingly! If your goal is to run a mile without taking a break, spending a half hour on the treadmill twice a week will help you get there. If your goal is to run an entire 5K or longer, you may have to dedicate more time to the gym. If you're not sure how to adjust your routine based on your specific goals and needs, ask a trainer.

Pair Cardio With Strength Training

It's not only about asking how often should you work out, but what you do when you're actually at the gym. Many gym-goers can log a couple miles on a treadmill while catching up on Netflix — but consistent strength training is also important.

This means you should pair weighted exercises (on a machine, with free weights, or even your own body weight) with your walks or runs.Complementing your cardio routine in this way can help you burn more calories and build muscle. Doing so will also help you get more out of your workout — so even if you aren't showing up to the gym super frequently, when you're there, you're getting some great exercise.

Don't Underestimate Your Rest Days

While plenty of beginners are eager to meet their goals ASAP, patience is often an underrated virtue. When you first start training, it's important to stay consistent and work out regularly. But allowing time for rest days is equally important. Rest days decrease your chances of burning out, allow your muscles to recover, and help you balance your schedule so you can make time for other things in your life. Scheduling in some downtime will also help you keep up your momentum and stay committed to your gym routine for the long-term.

If you've scheduled a rest day but still want to feel like you're working toward your goals, take some time to research new workouts. This way, when you do return to the gym, you can make the most of your time.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.