How often should you hit the road or iron?
So you're just starting out in the gym or on a fitness journey, but how often should you train? once, twice.............?
Don't worry if this is you I've got you covered.
Now as someone reading this you may think I’m a little biased as being in a gym all day, training, coaching and educating myself about all things gym and nutrition. But being in this position I get to meet lots of different people with lots of different goals so I think i’ve a fairly good understanding and broad perspective on the topic.
Let’s take a step back and think about it. There’s a few things you need to factor in and consider I believe:
I’ve had it when doing an in depth consultation with clients (which are free by the way…) when I’ve told them they should do just the x1 gym session a week, even though they wanted to come in 2-3x a week. And i’ve had it on the opposite end of the scale when you tell them they should and probably can manage 2-3x a week. Each individual is different and I think being in the professional in this instance you have to take into consideration what is best and what’s going to work best for the client.
Obviously lifestyle is going to be a massive factor that plays into how many times you can train / how long for. Like if you have kids, shift work or any other commitments. There could be lots of reasons. But the best advice here is if you have diary is just to sit down look at your week and put your session in like you would for a meeting with a client. Prioritise your health and well being. By prioritising and planning your week ahead and booking it in with yourself will force you to be accountable and organised. The trick is to treat it like an appointment because you wouldn’t want to cancel on a client or someone who needs you.
Or if you don’t like the sound of planning it in a diary like a meeting you can try the something short and sweet whenever you have time. 30 minutes is all you need and if you don’t have time to get to the gym doing a BW circuit or run at home. You’re still improving the quality of your life. This is a bit more random though and a little harder to stick to as you could fall into a habit or saying I can do it another time. But the key is do it there and then! Little and often is better than nothing at all.
I’d like to think as we get older we stay healthy and fit, but sadly that isn’t the case. As you get older you start to develop more health related issues like arthritis, osteoporosis, heart diseases, reduced muscle mass the list can go on and on. Being able to train through your 30s, 40s, 50s whatever age is going to be essential to slowing the ageing process down and putting you in the best possible position to live an easy life older on. One where you can be near enough self sufficient. As for me personally id like to not depend on someone to do everything for me in my 70s+ and not be the Grandad that’s sat in a chair all day everyday. For the older population I wouldn’t recommend them training 3+ a week. If I’m honest 1 strength session a week with some light activity during the week will do the world of wonders for them. And you can always progress to more strength sessions in the week to once they have adapted adequately.
Now this will change for the younger population, this will be more goal dependent, what current fitness levels are like and how disciplined they are. For me i’d recommend between 2-4x a week whilst taking these factors into account. You’d then plan and adjust intensity/rest days and volume efficiently so they are getting the most out of the sessions and time without running them into the ground.
If you are someone who gets distracted or side tracked then you may find it hard sticking to multiple sessions a week. Which is completely fine but you need to realise this and not get beat yourself up if you planned 3x and made 1x. What you should do is basically plan better and more efficiently. Have 1 proper structured session in the week, commit to that and keep that consistently getting done. Anything extra is a bonus. I’ve come across lots of people who say they have all these great intentions of smashing the gym 3-4x a week and give it a couple of weeks and they crash and burn because they’ve thrown themselves into the deep end and sunk basically. Now Granted there are people out there who will just do it but I think those people are few and far beyond. For the sake of longevity, it’s a safer bet to ease yourself into more sessions that go head first into them as you don’t want to be disheartened about not hitting your targets. But by all means if you’ve got that David Goggins mentality then go for it! Here’s a quote from his book: “You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft that you will die without ever realising your true potential.” Let that sink in a little…
Discipline, commitment, mental resilience, mindset are some of the things we at Devanney Strength like to develop alongside our strength training.
Goals are subjective, goals are personal. I get it. But whatever the goals are they require handwork, commitment, discipline to reach them. Otherwise how else do you expect to achieve something new? You can have short term goals and long term goals, weight loss/gain goals, specific events, sports, lifts you want to get. They all take time but still require the same handwork, commitment and discipline from you. Obviously the more you have the longer it’s gonna take to tick all of them off or if you have a huge weight loss goal, then again that’s a big life changing thing it will still require time. Generally you’ll be able to slowly chip away at goals even if you only train 1x a week. It may take a little longer but the work is still getting done. If you’re going 3x a week then you’ll probably find you can have more goals and tick off multiple goals at once or hit 1 big life goal a lot quicker. I suppose it depends how quickly you want to reach your goals and how many you set yourself? I personally like to do 1 big goal and then 2 or 3 smaller goals that help lead up to the big one.
So my overall thoughts on how many sessions should a beginner train a week? Well it completely depends on the individual doesn’t it! It’s going to be what the individual wants to do at the end of the day and what makes them happy. But generally i’d suggest between 1-3x a week would be plenty to start off with. Obviously if you want our professional opinion you can send us an email and pop down to have a FREE consultation to let us get a good understanding of all the factors and data.