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How Often Should I Work Out During The Week? (Hint: More Than A Couple)

Last time I checked, there were approximately 3,345,271.986 reasons and excuses as to why people who know they should work out–who WANT to work– don’t. There’s another 234,456,984.02 reasons as to why people only work out intermittently and 92.8% of the time they involve “no time”, every time. And despite the fact those numbers are as real the late-night calorie fairy, this much IS true: your body needs momentum and you don’t build momentum playing “Red Light, Green Light” with your nutrition and fitness program.

The Magic Number

So how many days a week of working out gives you the magic number for results? Keep in mind, nutrition is the great outlier for results but if we’re talking solely about the “magic” number on days to work out… most sources agree you start to gain momentum– real, body-changing momentum– when you get into the 5-6 day range (or 6-9 hours per week). You can tweak around within that range to “dial the results in” based on intensity and length of time per workout as well (fitness models will dedicate a minimum of 10-14 hours per week in the days/weeks before a shoot… and at that point, the dedication to nutrition and workout almost become  a full-time job).

As an example, P90X has you going 6 days a week. Insanity has you going 6 days a week. Most Beachbody programs have you going 6 days a week…

except P90X2. While P90X2 “officially” has you going 5 days a week, there’s some confusion there– that “extra” rest day is a workout in disguise, IE– it’s a “choose your own adventure”. It’s applying your fitness to real-world physical activities you enjoy as opposed to hitting the floor and dumbbells in front of your TV. It’s biking, hiking, hitting up intramural sports or showing off your improved vertical at the local gym or pick-up games. And technically, if you’re keeping score, that bumps your activity up to six. Tony Horton recently wrote this:

You should add exercising six days a week to your list. You start this good habit, and then soon it’ll become part of your lifestyle. Once that happens, you’ll feel guilty if you miss a workout. Why? Because it’ll be part of who you are now. A more health-conscious, self-aware you. A better you.

Yup. There’s a three- fold reason tucked away in there– one, six days a week builds habit and momentum. Two, six days a week builds up those “hours a week” without having to dedicate 2 hours every other day to achieve it and three, if by chance you legitimately run up against “life” and miss a workout, as Tony Horton argues: You’re ahead of the game.

Consistency

In other words, you need to be working out consistently, which by definition is a consecutive string of days. It’s this consecutivism (I may have just made that word up, so definitely use it) that allows you to plow those small speed bumps called “life” under the treads of your fitness powered All Terrain Vehicle. Tony “P90X” Horton has my back on this one:

“Inconsistent exercise is the fitness equivalent of driving across the country on surface streets. You’re bound to hit nothing but stop signs, streetlights, detours, construction — you name it. You spend a ton of time spinning your wheels, wondering why you’re not getting anywhere or seeing any noticeable results. You don’t get any momentum. You don’t get good mileage — only frustration with your lack of any decent progress…. You wouldn’t drive from Los Angeles to New York only using residential streets and back roads… The six-days-a-week mentality and lifestyle will get you on the “open highway” to better fitness and results.”

Of course, P90X gets most people very close to the 9 hour range and once you’ve reached your ideal, it doesn’t take as much to maintain. So back to that time excuse…

Time

OK, so remember that whole “time” excuse I mocked (just a little bit) way back in the first paragraph? First, time is easy. If you prioritize something, you find time to do it. Period. “This happened, that happened…” is the equivalent of “The Dog ate my homework”. This and that will ALWAYS happen. You just need to get around that and I’m telling you… the best way to get around that is making your workouts happen in the morning.

I know, here come the excuses, “But I’m not a morning person”, “That’s too early”, “I have to go to work”. You’re not a morning person and it’s “too early” because you go to bed too late. If you go to bed an hour and a half earlier and wake up an hour and a half earlier (shooting for 7-8 hours sleep), I promise– you won’t miss a thing in that early bed time but you’ll gain a TON in that early wake up. I could go on and on with this principle but the fact is it’s true and you need to take my word for it. Sucking it up and making the decision to do it will allow you to get those workouts in which will allow you to ultimately reach your goals. Short-term sacrifice, long term gain.

Achieving The Change You Want Requires Commitment

That’s right. It’s not a couple weeks and you’re on the cover of “Ripped Bod” Magazine. It may not even be a few months. If you’re going after transforming a body that’s fallen into neglect, there’s a time commitment involved and it’s not just hufffing and puffing and going through the motions and giving up after three or four weeks. It’s focus, drive, dedication, sacrifice and lifestyle change.

You’ve got to commit because you’ll always have a choice not to. And that choice not to is just as easy to make as the choice “To Do”. But… only one will take you to your goal. The other will come up with excuses and justifications and in 90 days, you’ll be looking back and wondering why you didn’t stick with it 90 days ago. As Mr. Horton says:

If you want to experience optimal health and dramatic results, it’s going to take planning, determination, accountability, and commitment. People, don’t take this lightly. There is much room for failure here. You can easily get complacent, discouraged or sidetracked from your goal. The entrepreneur E. Joseph Cossman once said, “Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” So stay focused.

I’m here to help you stay focused. Use and abuse this. It’s what I’m here for. Get started or recommit here. 

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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Alan Fowler says:

    Great post. Totally agree.
    When I was in college and law school, I thought three days of (what I called) training, along was two days of HIIT cardio (which was essentially 10 minutes of sprinting/ jogging was enough). I even felt like I was ahead of the curve. Wrong!
    To get the results you want, and to insure for life-generated obstacles, you’ve got to crush it almost every day.
    Once you commit, after a short way, you don’t even think about it as working out everyday – it’s just something you do.
    Great post, Dan!

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Great example of “real life” application. It’s critical to get past those first few weeks in addition to enjoying the program you’re doing. Motivation becomes the habit, which becomes enjoyable and like you said, part our every day. Thanks, Alan!

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