Of all the questions about fitness, "How often should I train?" is the most common and consequently the one with the most answers depending on who you ask. You ask some people and they might warn you about "over training" or they might say the truth is you don't need to train that often.
I think that this question really requires a little bit more of background information to answer it the right way. Now everyone is different and responds differently to physical activity so there is not an answer all across the board for everyone unfortunately.
Depending on what your goals are is going to decide how often you need to train. Someone who just wants to maintain their weight and look good is going to require less than someone who is preparing for a bodybuilding competition.
I'm going to divide it into 3 groups to make it easier.
This is for those who are looking just to maintain their current physique or for those who are already in good shape naturally and just want to maintain their body. The answer to how often should I train? for these people will be different than the rest.
This would require going to the gym 2-4 times per week. You should have an emphasis on lifting weights and some form of low intensity steady state cardio every workout.
Your workouts are going to be good but not super intense and not super long. You want to push yourself still but you're going to have a different mindset when going to the gym.
It's not so about doing as much weight as possible as it is to do more reps. You're going to be doing more reps per set. I'd say stay within the range of 12-18 reps per set with a moderate weight that still causes you to push yourself.
You're not going to see any major changes to your body on this routine but you will be able to maintain your physique without killing it in the gym every time.
How often should I train if I have goals that I want to accomplish in the next 6 months to a year? A lot of people have long term goals that don't require a whole lot of intensity everyday to accomplish.
This is for those people who are trying to lose weight or gain muscle but don't have a strict time frame. They want to see results so just doing workouts to maintain is not going to cut it. It's going to require pushing it a little bit more.
You're going to want to workout 3-5 days a week. As always having an emphasis on weight lifting but this time I would do HIIT cardio 2 times a week and low intensity cardio the rest of the times you go to workout.
You're going to want to stick in the rep range of 10-15 reps so you'll be pushing more weight definitely.
Doing these will allow you to see actual results if you are consistent and stick with it.
So it's a month before spring break or before summer break and you waited until the last minute to get that body you wanted. Now you're going to have to kick your butt into hyper drive and push it in the gym to get that body you wanted before break starts.
You'll need to go to the gym 5-6 days per week. Obviously with an emphasis on lifting heavy weight and lower reps. 8-12 reps is a good range for this. You should do HIIT cardio 3-4 times a week to ensure that your body is in that fat burning state often.
Some people might say that you should not train so often because you will overtrain but I think that is a myth. Now if your body is in serious pain from working out this often then I would adjust accordingly but for the most part it's okay to workout when you're still a little sore. You just need to be smart about it and listen to your body.
I know I just gave you a bunch of information to the question "how often should I train?" but the truth is it's different for every person. It depends on them and what their goals are.
You have to decide what you want to accomplish and what you are willing to do to accomplish your goals.
I have goals to put on muscle and get stronger so I go to the gym 6 days a week and jump rope for my cardio every time I workout. I love the results I get and the time it takes me to see results.
Find what works best for you!