How many days per week do I need to train to notice a difference?

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Some people spend hours at the gym several times a week, while others barely have the time and energy to hold a single session. But both types of athletes can be equally frustrated at not seeing results. So what is the ideal point in determining how often a person should train?

The answer to this question depends on different factors, such as the physical activity you choose to do. Physical activity is defined as “any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle which increases energy expenditure above a basal level”, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Exercise is a “planned, structured, repetitive” form of physical activity performed for the purpose of improving health or fitness.

“Although all exercise is physical activity, not all physical activity is exercise”, explains the department.

Of course, some physical activity is better than nothing, but “regular moderate to vigorous physical activity” reduces the risk of many adverse health effects, the HHS says.

How many days a week should I train?

How often a person should train will depend on their fitness level as well as their fitness goals, from losing weight to building muscle.

It is good to aim for at least 30 minutes of “moderate physical activity every day”, according to Dr Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic, who is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

For those who don’t have the time, even “short periods of activity” offer health benefits. So you can swap a 30-minute walk during the day with multiple five-minute walks instead, he says.

However, “if you want to lose weight, maintain your weight loss, or achieve specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more”, Laskowski said.

Talk to News week, Gregg Hartley, consultant to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and a IFBB Pro (International Federation of Bodybuilders) with extensive experience in sports and fitness, advised that “to make significant changes you should spend at least three days a week in the gym in a structured workout”.

Make sure you learn to do the exercises the right way and focus on doing them correctly. “It’s discouraging [seeing] the number of people who train in the wrong form who get no gain and in the worst case get injured, ”he says.

For three more days a week, you should do some sort of “unstructured activity,” says the SFIA consultant. It could mean going for a run, taking the stairs instead of the elevator to a building, walking to work, anything that can raise your heart rate for about 20 or 30 minutes.

Give your body a rest on a weekday to “relax and enjoy the progress you’ve made during the week.” But be careful not to “binge eat” or drink on your day off, Hartley cautions (more on the diet later below).

Consistency is also key to getting results. “Be consistent, you can’t train for a week and then take a week off and expect to show gains. Consistency is the basis on which all improvements are motivated,” he says.

Two people doing dumbbell exercise in a gym. Adults who engage in “moderate or higher intensity” muscle-building activities two or more days per week experience additional health benefits.
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What is a healthy amount of physical activity?

One of the main types of physical activity is aerobic activity, which involves large muscles in the body moving rhythmically for an extended period of time. Ideally, your aerobic activity should be spread over the whole week, the HHS says.

The level of aerobic activity is determined by three components. They understand intensity (how much effort to do the activity), frequency (how often you do the aerobic activity) and duration (how long you do the activity in a session).

The HHS explains: “While these components provide a profile of aerobic physical activity, research has shown that the total amount of physical activity (minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, for example) is more important to obtain benefits for health than any component (frequency, intensity or duration).

Some health benefits may start with as little as an hour of physical activity per week. However, “substantial health benefits” for adults occur with a weekly total of 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking).

Research shows that a minimum weekly total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity “consistently lowers” the risk of many chronic diseases and other adverse health effects. says the HHS.

Adults who engage in “moderate or higher intensity” muscle-building activities that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days per week will experience additional health benefits. the federal health agency says.

People running on treadmills.
People running on treadmills. Aerobic activity is one of the main types of physical activity. This involves the large muscles in the body moving rhythmically for an extended period of time.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

How long should my training be?

When it comes to exercise, you shouldn’t need to work out for more than an hour or so, according to Hartley.

“The length of the workouts can vary, but if you’re in the gym for more than an hour you’re messing around or talking too much. Plan your workout and do it, ”says the SFIA consultant, adding that you should leave the phone in place. your locker or gym bag to help you focus on training.

Hartley advises training at the same designated time during the day. “Trying to spread a workout over three or four shorter periods during the day doesn’t give your body the challenge it needs,” he says.

You should also “level up” if you don’t feel tired or challenged by your current training.

Hartley explains that you should feel pain in a muscle group on the second day after working it out. This means that if you exercise your legs on Monday, they should be tight or sore on Wednesday. If they don’t, you haven’t pushed your body hard enough.

The HHS says, “For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur when the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, higher frequency, and / or longer duration.”

How long before I see significant results?

Hartley says, “If you develop a competent training and diet program and follow it regularly, you should see significant results within three to six months.

“You haven’t gained twenty pounds of overweight or lost muscle strength in a few weeks and you won’t be ready for magazine cover in a few weeks. But you will get there if you’re consistent,” he adds .

A man doing rope exercises.
A man doing rope lifting exercises in a gym.
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Diet is crucial for training

Good nutrition and training go hand in hand. Your diet is the “most critical” aspect of a weight loss and muscle building training program.

Hartley explains, “The biggest mistake in weight loss training is to follow a fad diet that promises miracle results. The main thing is to lose weight, you need to burn more calories per day than you eat. It’s as simple as that. “

The SFIA consultant also cautions that you shouldn’t try to train with just one meal a day. Our bodies weren’t designed to work that way, he says, noting that every pound of extra weight on your body adds five pounds of pressure to your knees.

“Maintaining your diet and your weight is essential for a healthier lifestyle. It makes no sense to maintain your diet during the week and then binge on your day off or vacation,” adds Hartley.

He strongly recommends consulting a nutritionist or seeing a qualified personal trainer to help you define a diet that meets your training goals.

A calorie counter and a salad bowl.
A person displays a calorie counter on a phone while eating a bowl of salad. Your diet is the important part of a workout program for weight loss and muscle building.
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Before starting a training program

Hartley says you should see your doctor or a qualified health care professional to make sure you’re able to maintain a fitness program.

This is especially important if you have never followed a fitness program or trained in a gym. In either case, have an initial consultation with a qualified personal trainer. “They can assess your fitness, understand your goals, and help you establish a training program that you can maintain and grow with,” says Hartley.

If costs keep you from embarking on a fitness journey, Hartley suggests seeking help through programs similar to PHIT (Today’s Personal Health Investment Law), which “makes its way to the US Congress” and “will bear the cost of many sports and fitness programs.”

You should also check the terms of your health insurance provider, the SFIA consultant said, adding, “Mine pays for my entire gym membership.”

A trainer helps a woman lift dumbbells.
A personal trainer helps a woman lift dumbbells in a gym.
iStock / Getty Images Plus


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