A perfect workout is one that you can hold yourself accountable to: You show up, give it your best and enjoy what you’re doing. The same holds true with the amount of time you spend exercising. More isn’t always better in the gym.
You can make real improvements whether you go three, four or six times a week. But when tackling your exercise program, it’s best to focus on quality versus quantity. Time is irrelevant if you’re still getting the work done.
Be sure you’re making your efforts work for you. Here’s what you should consider when planning out your gym time.
Start With Three Days a Week
A three-day split is great for busy people. If you only have time to train three times a week, look at a full-body routine. Sessions may take a bit longer because you’ll need to hit each muscle twice a week for maximal results. The days off in between workouts should ensure enough time to recover more quickly and perform better.
Add a Fourth Day
If you like to work out four days a week, aim for two strength-training sessions (to get stronger) and two hypertrophy days (to build size). Try maximizing your gym time by splitting the days into two lower-body and two upper-body routines. You should feel sufficiently rested in between sessions. This will help you lift heavier the next time you go for a workout.
Work Up to Five Days
Working out five days a week is great if you need to limit the amount of time of each session. You’re still aiming to hit each muscle twice a week, and a five-day split gives you a bit of flexibility in areas that need more help. If you want an extra leg day or upper-body session, this allows you to do so without compromising the results. It’s also great if you want to take a day off or if you don’t have one of your best training sessions.
Possibly Go for Six Days
If you’re a gym rat and like to train six days a week, you’ll be able to hit each muscle twice or even three times a week. This leads to more volume, greater muscle size and faster strength gains. In addition, if you miss a day, it’s not likely to deter your progress. Workouts should be a bit shorter, so you’re able to get all of the work in without rushing.
The downside to this gym schedule is that you may quickly feel burned out. You may constantly feel sore from training too much, and you may not have enough time to recover in between. Try splitting a six-day routine into strength and hypertrophy days: Three days a week you build strength, and the other three days you build size. But you should never train to failure because you’ll be right back in the gym the next day.
How Long Should My Workouts Be?
Many people ask me if the 30 minutes they spend in the gym is sufficient. As long as you’ve gone through the exercises with proper form, full intensity and solid time under tension, it really doesn’t matter how long the workout lasts.
Read more: Is the 1-Minute Workout a Myth?
How Can I Maximize My Gym Time?
It’s best to train with intensity for optimal results. Reps, sets and total volume of weight should always be a progression. And spend your time on weightlifting instead of doing cardio. Weightlifting helps you build more muscle and burn more calories while resting.
What Do YOU Think?
How often do you hit the gym? What do your workouts look like? Are they longer or shorter? Do you focus on cardio or strength training? Did any of this advice help you shape your future sessions? Share your thoughts, questions and suggestions in the comments below!
About the Author
Sloane Davis is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer who has helped thousands of people, both men and women, around the world get in top shape both mentally and physically. Sloane is accredited through the International Sports Sciences Association with a degree in sports nutrition and personal training. Connect with Sloane on her website Pancakes and Push Ups. Or follow her on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook.