Do you need more workouts to get fit?

So you’ve got goals, and you’re fired up to accomplish them.

Will working out a lot help you do it?

The answer is “maybe.”

To give you a more precise answer, we’ll need to dig in and consider a few variables: your fitness level, your goals, and your recovery.

1) Your Fitness Level

If you’re new to working out, you don’t have to train a huge amount to get results.

Even one session a week has benefits, but two or three will be much better. Four or five might be overwhelming and even counterproductive depending on some other variables.

If you’re very experienced in the gym or very fit, you might have to train four or five times a week to get the best results.

The reason for this difference is that your body adapts to training over time, and if you haven’t trained a lot, a little dose of exercise will produce a significant response.

2) Your Goals

The next variable: your exact goals.

If your goal is general fitness, three to four workouts a week will be just fine.

But if your goals are more specific, we might adjust that plan.

For example, someone who’s looking to compete at a very high level might work out five or more times a week. Some elite fitness competitors will even work out twice a day. But this level of training isn’t required by most people.

Another example: A person wants to reach a certain fitness level by a certain date. Perhaps that client wants to run a marathon or compete in an obstacle-course race. We might add in some extra sessions to ensure the person is ready on race day.

But, again, you can make significant progress toward general health and fitness goals with three to four workouts per week. You don’t need to train every day— Read on!

3) Your Recovery

Simple sports science: When you work out, you stress the body and cause it to make repairs and improvements. Those improvements increase your fitness level.

But you have to give the body time to make these adjustments, and you have to give it the “supplies” it needs to do so.

So if you do a tough workout, you’ll need to sleep well, eat well, and give your body enough time to repair itself. If you don’t, you’ll slow or even reverse progress.

An example: A very motivated person wants to get fitter, so he trains twice a day every day. He’s a shift worker and doesn’t get a lot of sleep. And sometimes he eats poorly. If he keeps going like this, his body won’t be able to recover from all the training. He’ll be sore and cranky, and performance will deteriorate. He might even get injured.

More isn’t always better. You must remember that your body actually improves itself after the workout, not during the workout. If you don’t give it the things it needs to adapt to exercise stress, you won’t get closer to your goals.

You need the right amount of rest and recovery. In some cases, 24 hours of recovery will do. In other cases, 48 are required. And some people need longer breaks if they’ve just finished a series of very hard workouts that stressed the same parts of the body repeatedly.

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