Wondering how often you should be doing a total body workout? That can be a difficult question to answer, as it often depends on your goals, your current level of fitness, your schedule, and your natural predisposition. Fortunately, we can establish a baseline for you to consider, and give you plenty of tips on adjusting for more or less time in the gym as you prefer or need.
For the most part, anyone you ask this question’s going to either say ‘it depends on’, like we did, or say ‘three times per week.’ For any beginner and most advanced trainees, three total body workouts each week is right in the sweet spot—it’s enough to make a significant impact over time, little enough that you’re not at risk of overtraining. Unless your schedule or other facts prevent you from hitting the gym three times per day, start here—by the time you’re ready to train more often, you’ll know it.
Adjusting for Your Needs
So, what about those of us who can’t hit the gym for total body training three times per week? You have a few options; if you just don’t have big enough blocks of time for three full sessions each week, consider training more days, but less time; cycle lower body, upper body, cardio, training every day of the week in the small amounts of time you can get. This gives each section adequate rest time while achieving roughly the same amount of total training.
If you can’t do that, consider pushing hard on fewer days of the week. If you’re only hitting the gym twice per week, you need to make up the difference—that first day after your workout might suck, but as long as you recover in time for the next session, you’re fine. Just be alert to the single biggest threat: Overtraining.
Whether you’re doing a total body workout or something completely different, the risks remain the same: you push too hard, and you can’t rest properly, you can’t sleep right, your mood gets worse, your gains slow down, you get sick or hurt yourself more easily. Overtraining is a big deal—this is why you probably shouldn’t be doing more than three total body workouts per week until you’re at a more advanced state of fitness.
Ways to Work More
If you insist on going beyond our recommendation on total body workouts, consider other ways of training. You can run every day and see benefits in every aspect of fitness; a stronger heart and lungs will improve your performance across the board. Alternatively, you can move on to intense sectional training; ‘leg day’, ‘core day’, etc. This lets you work each section much harder than you could in a full body workout because the section then gets a longer rest. This is why weight lifters usually use such a method—it allows them to push harder.