Flex Your Workout Schedule For Better Results

There’s one question I see asked often that needs rephrasing.  

“How many days per week should I be working out?” 

As someone who helps clients fit workouts in their busy lives, I answer this question a lot.

One thing we always remind them is how they can MAXIMIZE their return on time invested working out.

Not sugar coating the answer, either.

How can we help rephrase the question?  Let’s focus on a few ways.   

Establish short term goals: if you’re looking at your week ahead, perhaps consider something like a peak week (5-6 days of working out), a mini-cut (caloric deficit and strict eating).  These can be timed up perfectly for any challenging travel or the opposite, with extra free time.

If you have significant goals but also flexibility and time freedom to workout at home, small workouts spread out over more days may be a better workout prescription.

Gym and coaching availability: if you’re someone who already works out twice per week, with potential and want for more workouts, perhaps a supplemental routine that balances out your current workout is more appropriate.  Examples include steady state cardio, intervals, core work, stretching and mobility or even extra arms or shoulder work.

Level of the client: someone who has less experience working out (known as training age) would probably have to curate their own recovery strategies as they consider increasing or changing workout frequency.  Sleep, nutrition, hydration and mobility needs would be factors here.  Someone also coming off an injury may want to consider these when modifying routines as well.

Client life phase: parents, entrepreneurs, travelling clients and recent college grads entering the workforce may all face challenges when it comes to time management and lifestyle optimization.  Shorter workouts with less fluff may substitute longer workouts and help keep the stimulus and adaptation up.

Equipment at home: since 2020, the majority of folks are used to working out at home in one respect or another.   Keys to implementing their home workouts as well as their gym workouts is a challenge yet can be welcome options for travel or unstructured clientele.  Here’s 3 examples of home gym metcons:

Walkability of community: some communities just don’t have a level of walk ability that others do.  If this is the case, supplementing for 10k steps may be needed with a bike, elliptical or simply a gym membership so you can get your steps in at the gym.

EXPECTED RESULTS FROM TRAINING FREQUENCIES:

2 times per week: strength gains will be noticeable for newbies but maybe harder to come by for those with a higher training age.  That said, could be considered maintenance for some veteran clients and workout populations.

3 times per week: strength, muscle definition, endurance and possibly body composition changes are noticed weekly versus monthly. More flexilibilty with training programs and routines than 2x per week.

This is usually where we program clients – for 3 times per week with the 3×3 approach (4 separate videos on the explanation then the breakdown into the 3 parts):

4, 5 and 6 times per week: changes happen at almost all levels, and weekly. Most flexibility and fun a trainer and client can have together. Body composition changes are much more rapid and likely.

These workouts can also be broken down differently like the following examples:

The longer term planning and understanding, of both client and trainer, keeps in mind that holidays, heavy travel and life stressors can all veer training plans off course. This is where the above recommendations come in.

Progress at times will shift from a regular training phase (3-6 times per week) to a deload, NEAT or maintenance phase. 

Good client management starts with flipping the question back to the client, “What is your schedule like this month?” and building off that. 

Specialty programs can be killer solutions for those with travel plans and less time but perhaps more frequency. These can include:

    1. Gironda or GVT
    2. Hybrid programming
    3. Powerlifting focus (not competition)
    4. Running or racquet sports

Another reason this question needs rephrasing is because it assumes a level of the person asking it; when in fact there are 3 different levels of people that ask this question.  

In addition, these 3 levels tend to be on a continuum depending on where the person asking is on their own fitness and wellness journey:

Dependent (usually 6 weeks to 6 months): you need to be told or reminded what to do for meals, macros, workouts and cardio. The habits you’re forming are new and infantile yet you’re excited and in a puppy phase of learning, making mistakes and reading almost anything you can get your hands on from your coach or training sources.

This type of client needs to keep things simple, easy, attainable and to leave the complex topics for later on in their training and wellness journey.  

2-3 times per week is good so as not to overwhelm and ensure adherence.

Interdependent (usually 6 months to 6 years): you’re very capable of making up something from your coach or training program yet open to feedback. 

You can make a shopping list on your own and build healthy meals, meal prep, consider cardio or zone 2 options without prompting.  

3-6 times per week are all options but more importantly, steering around obstacles and not making mistakes are very helpful in steady progress and constant growth.

Independent (usually 1 year plus): you’re invested and involved in training at the highest level, potentially with means to meal prep or get delivery, get a coach or trainer and pay or make your own programs.  

While this client may seem like they don’t need a trainer or coach, they actually consume a ton of fitness content and may be likely to purchase specialty programs or workout plans.  

DOES THIS CHANGE YOUR NUTRITION?

Glad you asked. Let’s look at it based on 2-3 days a week of workouts:

 

 

So, you’re looking ahead at your schedule for the week, and you have 4 days you can workout.

Next week, only 2.

And the following week, 5.

Hopefully you can save this article and use it for future reference.

Want someone to make your own personalized workouts?  We do that!