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How Often Do I Need to Work Out?

People often ask me how frequently they should work out. Unfortunately there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. Important factors to consider include current fitness level, goal, type and intensity of exercise and available time.

Whether you are new to training, out of shape or a highly conditioned professional athlete, proper recovery time between workouts is the key to avoiding injury, fatigue and poor performance.

When you are first starting a program, your body needs more time to recover. It is a good idea to ease into your workouts being mindful of how you feel before, during and after training. Also note your energy level and sleep quality. Allowing 48 hours for recovery is a good starting place. For the first four to six weeks, I generally advise five to six days of activity: two days of strength/resistance training a week, alternating cardio activity and flexibility, restorative exercises and activities, such as yin or restorative yoga or foam rolling.

A typical week could look something like this:

M: full body core strength training (60 min)
T: cardio (20-30 min) flexibility exercises (20-30 min)
W: rest or restorative exercises; including yoga, meditation, foam rolling, etc.
Th: full body core strength training (60 min)
F: cardio (20-30 min) flexibility exercises or yoga (20-30 min)
S: recreational activities: (active rest, something that you do for enjoyment) walking, hiking, golf, etc.
S: rest (never underestimate the benefit of streams, saunas, massage, and even hot baths!)

As your fitness level increases, the schedule could change; perhaps adding another day of strength training and increasing the intensity in terms of weight, resistance, number of sets, speed, difficulty, etc.

The important thing to remember is to keep a balance of strength, intensity, flexibility, restoration activities and passive rest.

Stay on the path!


Carol Porter is a personal trainer and fitness guide in Ashland, Oregon. She is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, exercise and performance-training specialist, and yoga teacher. Her sports interests are cycling, running, yoga, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and cross country skiing.  You can reach Carol at