How often should I exercise to meet my goal?

How often and how many times should you workout per week?

It really depends on your fitness goal.

Are you looking to improve muscular strength? Maintain cardiovascular health? Do you want to become more flexible? Or are you hoping to increase your muscular endurance?

Whatever the goal, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) have put together guidelines on the frequency you should exercise to best meet your target, which is worth referring to if you want to make sure you’re achieving the right balance of training and recovery.

Maintaining Cardiovascular Health

To keep your heart healthy and avoid possible cardiovascular diseases, you should be physically active 5-7 days per week.

This can include physical activity (cycling, walking etc) and everyday tasks (housework, DIY, gardening etc). You should aim for 30 minutes of continuous or cumulative sessions at a low to moderate pace  (55-70% of maximum heart rate).

Maintaining Cardiovascular Fitness

To maintain cardiovascular fitness -the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues – you need to be exercising 3-5 times per week.

They should be a rhythmic, continuous activity that uses large muscle groups such as running, swimming, cycling or brisk walking for 20-60 minutes at 55-90% of maximum heart rate.

Maintaining General Muscle Fitness

For general muscle fitness, you should be exercising 2-3 times a week for 20 minutes using resistance machines or free weights.

For best results, do 8-10 continuous exercises, one per main muscle group. Each set should include  8-12 reps with a resistance of 75% of 1RM for each muscle group.

Improving Muscular Endurance 

For muscular endurance, you should aim to train 2-3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes each time.

Aim for 2 exercises per muscle and perform 1-2 sets of 12-15 reps per exercise with a resistance of 40-50% of 1RM for each muscle group.

Improving Muscular Strength

To improve muscular strength, you need to exercise 2-3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Aim for 2 exercises per muscle and perform 1-3 sets of 1-6 reps per exercise with a resistance of 90-100% of 1RM for each muscle group.

Greater Flexibility

For greater flexibility, perform  static stretches 5-7 times per week of 3-4 reps per muscle.

You should stretch to the end of the range of motion without inducing discomfort and hold it for 10-30 seconds per stretch. 

Remember, you don’t improve while training, it’s only once you have recovered from the session that your body adapts and re-builds itself. So, take note of the ACSM guidelines and be careful not to overtrain.

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