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How often should you work out? Tips on building a weekly workout schedule

In this article, you will find the key factors to determine how often you should work out to hit your goals without burning out.

The most common mistake that beginners make is overcommitting when building their workout schedule.

 

Understandably, you would like to achieve your fitness goals faster and maximize your health benefits from regular training. At the same time, you don’t want to drop out of going to the gym on the 3rd week of training because your schedule is too intense. How can you find the sweet spot in your workout program?

 

The number of workouts per week depends on several factors: the type of workouts, available time, your fitness level, and goals such as losing weight, muscle building, or healthy lifestyle and longevity.

Different types of training

Different types of workouts vary in intensity levels, engage different muscle groups, and help you achieve various goals.

 

  • Steady-state cardio: This is one of the basic types of workouts, also known as aerobic or endurance exercise. Cardio elevates your heart rate into the target zone through rhythmic activity like biking, jogging, running, swimming, and walking. Steady-state cardio is usually performed at low or medium intensity for at least 45 minutes. Cardio workouts are beneficial for your cardiovascular system, heart strength, and longevity.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): Interval training consists of alternating short periods of vigorous activity and rest. HIIT is performed at high intensity usually from 15 to 45 minutes. HIIT can be a cardio workout (interval running or cycling) or a combined workout with strength and bodyweight exercises. HIIT leads to massive calorie burn being the most effective way to lose weight.
  • Strength training: This workout helps strengthen your muscles. Strength training includes bodyweight workouts, circuit training, and weight lifting.
  • Balance exercise: Balance workouts improve coordination: dancing, yoga, martial arts, etc.
  • Flexibility training: Stretching workouts increase mobility and help to recover muscles. Flexibility workouts include tai chi, yoga, and stretching.
 

Building and following your training schedule is a marathon, not a sprint. Starting with fewer days per week can help you better stick to your goals and avoid overtraining. 3 days a week is a good start for almost any beginner.

How much exercise do you need depending on your training goals?

Your weekly workout plan will look different depending on your training goals. Even if you focus on a certain type of training, it’s better to keep your schedule balanced with various activities.

 

Weight loss

 

2x REHIT / HIIT / cardio sessions + 1 strength training a week.

 

It’s important to select a training pace that will allow you to sustain optimal weight loss long-term. 3 to 4 days per week is known to be a sweet spot where you can stay on track in your routine for weeks and even months.

 

HIIT training is your best choice to achieve a massive calorie burn in the shortest time. You will continue to burn up to 30% more calories after the HIIT workout due to the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which makes it one of the most efficient workouts.

 

Nowadays, most fitness experts agree that resistance training is equally important for maintaining weight loss as cardio. Strength training sessions make sure that you maintain your muscle mass while burning calories from fat—as a result, your body will look more shaped and toned. Strength training exercises also increase your basal metabolic rate so that you burn more calories at rest.

 

Your optimal weight loss training schedule includes 2 HIIT sessions and 1 strength training session per week. If HIIT sessions are too hard for you, you can replace one or both of them with steady-state cardio.

 

Building muscle

 

3-4x strength sessions a week.

 

Aerobic exercise doesn’t result in any significant muscle growth so for this purpose you should focus entirely on strength training.

 

When you commence building muscle, you will progress fast compared to more advanced athletes. You can start small using light or moderate weights 3x times a week. To keep your progress on track, you need to gradually increase the amount of weights each time. If you feel that your body handles it well, you can work out up to 4 strength training days a week.

 

Prioritize compound movements that work multiple muscles and joints maximizing muscle fiber engagement over isolated, single-joint exercises in your workout: e.g. include more exercises like squats, plank, and deadlifts rather than bicep curls.

 

Improving cardio performance

 

1-2x REHIT (HIIT) training + 2-3x steady-state cardio training a week.

 

If you prepare for a marathon or want to improve your cardio performance, aim for 3-5 cardio sessions per week. HIIT training and steady-state cardio training train your cardiovascular system in different ways so you need to incorporate both types of training in your plan. Alternate these sessions to avoid overtraining.

 

Your training sessions don’t have to take hours—even a 30-minute workout that consistently raises your heart rate 3-to-5 days a week will make a big difference.

 

A 2013 study found that interval workouts improve VO2max (the key measure of cardio fitness) faster than continuous aerobic exercise.

 

Reduced Exertion HIIT (REHIT) on CAROL Bike has shown to offer superior cardiovascular benefits in 90% less time compared to regular cardio exercise. It requires only 2×20-second sprints within a 5-minute workout, making it the shortest, most effective exercise for cardiovascular improvement. According to one study, you can increase your VO2max by 12% in just 8 weeks of regular REHIT training, doing 3x 5 minute workouts a week.

 

Some studies found that the largest VO2max increase happened during a program of 6 workouts per week. At the same time, it’s not recommended to exceed 2-3 REHIT or HIIT sessions per week as it may lead to injuries or exhaustion. This means that adding 2-3 extra Zone 2 cardio sessions performed at low or medium intensity will help you progress faster with no risk of overtraining. Steady-state cardio trains the endurance of your cardiovascular system and increases capillary density while HIIT pushes your heart to its limit increasing its peak capacity.

CAROL Bike is scientifically proven to deliver superior health and fitness benefits compared to regular cardio exercise—in 90% less time.

General health

 

1x HIIT training, 1x steady-state cardio training and 1-2x strength training a week

 

Fitness experts suggest that for general health you can split your training time 50:50 between cardio and strength training. If you exercise 4 times a week, you can have 2 cardio sessions and 2 strength sessions.

 

When it comes to long-term health and longevity, steady-state cardio (also known as Zone 2 training) offers the most benefits. This is a long (45-90 min) session performed at low or medium intensity. Steady-state cardio is extremely beneficial for the cardiovascular system: it strengthens the heart muscle and increases your capillary density. It also helps to grow mitochondria which naturally decrease with age.

 

Include at least 1 Zone 2 training in your weekly workout days together with HIIT and strength training.

The shortest, most effective workout plan: 3x REHIT sessions, 15 minutes per week

With just 3×5-minute REHIT sessions per week, CAROL Bike offers the shortest, most effective solution—making it easy to form a fitness habit that lasts.

 

REHIT creates the most potent training stimulus with just 2×20-second sprints. It’s scientifically proven to deliver superior health and fitness benefits compared to regular cardio exercise in 90% less time. CAROL Bike’s AI calibrates every moment on the bike to you, making it suitable for any age and fitness level. 

 

After several weeks of regular training, you develop more mitochondria, your blood plasma volume increases, and your heart gets stronger. It results in increased aerobic and anaerobic capacity.

 

REHIT is effective for weight loss, improving cardio performance, and delivering significant health benefits.

The risks of overtraining

The time between the workouts may be even more important than the workout itself—your body builds muscle and continues to burn calories when you recover from physical activity.

 

Vigorous physical activity like HIIT or intense resistance training causes tiny tears in the muscle fibers, decreases energy supplies, and leads to the accumulation of lactic acid. Your body needs at least 1-2 days to repair the tissue, wash out metabolic by-products, and replenish glycogen stores. With too little rest, you may experience symptoms of overtraining that include muscle soreness, fatigue, poor sleep, and even decreased immunity function. If you neglect a proper recovery, this will also badly affect your training performance. That’s why the days of strength training and HIIT should never be scheduled back-to-back.

 

Steady-state cardio workouts are less strenuous on your body but they still require some recovery time.

 

Most experts strongly advise against training every day of the week.

How many rest days a week do you need?

It is recommended to have no more than 3 HIIT sessions or 5 regular training sessions per week for non-professional athletes.

 

As a general rule, you need at least 2 rest days every week. During these days, you can do active recovery such as yoga, stretching, or some light activity like walking. Proper rest will recover the capacity for each of your 3 energy systems and increase your performance during the next training session.

 

As you build a balanced training schedule optimized for your fitness goals, you will be able to sustain it in the long term and enjoy steady progress.

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