A question that many people get wrong is how often they should workout every week. There are so many misconceptions out there, and the likely answer is different for everyone. However, most fitness specialists agree on at least one thing: You need to give your body time to rest and recover for it to grow stronger! That’s why experts recommend working out three or four times a week with two days of rest in between each workout session.
If you are looking for the most efficient way to develop your muscles, research has shown that a combination of strength training and cardio will get you the best results in the shortest amount of time. This means, doing both weightlifting and aerobics on at least two alternative days per week is effectively three times as effective (and four times as hard) than weightlifting alone.
Research has also shown that the best results are achieved when doing strength training (like body-weight squats, pushups, and pull-ups or something like the 30 Day Shred ) in addition to a cardio workout (like running, walking on an incline, or using an elliptical machine) every day.
This workout approach is most effective because it simulates how we have evolved through years of practicing endurance activities and pushing heavy objects. By doing this training method, you are training your body to operate in two different energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic).
When you run a mile on the treadmill or push yourself during a high-intensity session, you create stress on your body that it isn’t used to. This pushes the heart rate up and floods the muscle with energy (which is why people have increased endurance when they first start doing an exercise like running).
This period of “aerobic training” doesn’t last long, though. As your body adapts to the stress, it begins to get better at delivering energy to your muscles. However, as you repeat the activity, it becomes more efficient and doesn’t need that same level of aerobic training to perform optimally. That’s where the strength training comes in. By adding weightlifting and plyometrics (ex: clapping pushups or squat jumps) to your regime, you are putting the body back at that “aerobic energy zone” and forcing it to create more of its energy (in this case via ATP).
The body can push beyond the aerobic threshold and maximize performance in both strength training and cardio. At first, these workouts will be exhausting (trust me, I was the guy that couldn’t push through more than 5 minutes of running a year ago), but as your body becomes better at doing these types of workouts, you will eventually be able to do them for hours without getting tired.
Combining strength training with aerobic exercise can also help minimize muscle loss in older populations (over 45 years old). This is because it keeps the body constantly in an optimum state to utilize muscle tissue (similar to how anyone who has hit the gym notices their muscles are more dense and full of energy than someone who doesn’t work out regularly).
If you have time, research has also shown that adding a third workout on non-consecutive days can do wonders for your body. This third workout is also known as a “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS) workout. It is typically done on the day after an aerobic or strength training workout to maximize the damage caused to your muscles during those activities.
When you run a mile, it doesn’t just cause micro damage on the surface of the muscles (and this is what causes you to feel soreness the next day). Still, it also causes a deeper level of damage that breaks down muscle tissue, which eventually can lead to muscle growth. If you can find one extra hour in your week to get these DOMS workouts in, your body will thank you with increased performance, increased muscle tissue, and even better fat burning.
The main point is not to push people into being weightlifters or cardio rats but rather to encourage trying a new workout routine that you might not be used to. Experimentation with different routines can also help reduce boredom and potentially spur extra motivation during your training sessions. With a bit of creativity, you might even be able to incorporate some of these workouts at home or with a few friends and reap the benefits without having to pay for a gym membership.