I’ll start off by saying that there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this – how frequently you should exercise will depend on a number of factors, including your general fitness, your goals and lifestyle factors. That being said, I wanted to give some general guidance to help you make an informed choice as to how frequently you exercise.
But surely more is better when it comes to exercise, right? Well, no. Recovery and rest are SO important in maintaining your health and fitness and they often get overlooked. [Check out our beginners guide to rest days here]. That being said, I strongly believe you should move every day – just vary what you do and the intensity at which you work. By that, I don’t mean doing an intense workout aimed at different parts of the body every day, but just making the conscious effort to do something every day – whether that is going for a walk, doing some yoga or just some mobility exercises.
Aside from the physical benefits of moving every day, it also helps with habit formation, as you are taking the element of decision making away. If you need to decide on a certain day whether or not you are going to move that day, you could always decide not to. If, however, you have set aside 45 minutes every day of the week to do something, the decision has already been made and you just need to do it. If you are completely new to exercise, you could try 3 dedicated workout days (maybe Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) to do your main workouts, and then fill those same time slots in your diary on the other days with other forms of exercise (like walking and yoga).
Ok, so that’s what I think about moving every day. If, however, you’re wondering about how many time a week you should be properly working out – I’ll address that now. Again, it will depend, but I would say as a general rule to aim for between 3-5 sessions per week. Jonny and I tend to do full on workouts 5 times a week, but we’ve been doing this for years now. Our sessions usually consist of our four main lifts (deadlift, bench press, squats and overhead press) on 4 different days of the week, with accessory work on the same days, and then one day dedicated to core work and any ancillary work we missed during the week.
If you’re new to training, don’t go from 0-60 in no time flat… you’ve got to ease yourself into it! Why not start with 3 low impact workouts per week and then slowly build the intensity of those? Then you can look to increase your workout days. You need to give your muscles time to adjust, and if you start with too much too quickly you are much more likely to injure yourself!
For those of you with more experience who love the feeling of an intense gym session, try to remember that rest and recovery are SUPER important, and you don’t want to get into the habit of overtraining! Working the same muscles too often without giving them time to recover can lead to more muscle breakdown than build up – which can not only cause injury but also won’t help you meet your goals. On average, your muscles need between 24-48 hours to recover from exercise. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something every day – as I mentioned above you can do some gentle activity – but chill out a bit with the intense workouts and give your body time to recover!
As always, we advocate a whole food plant-based vegan diet to support your workouts. One of the big benefits of a whole food plant-based diet for athletes (and yes, I’m referring to you as an athlete even if you are only just starting out on your exercise journey) is that, in general, it allows for faster recovery times. This means that you should be recovering faster between your workouts, which will make you feel great and allow for more intense training (if you want more intense training!).