How Much Exercise You Need Per Week? (HINT: Depends On Your Goals!)

Blog Body Movement & Workout How Much Exercise You Need Per Week? (HINT: Depends On Your Goals!)

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5.27.2021 0 comments

Regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do to be healthy!

It encourages fat loss, boosts your metabolism, stabilizes your hormones, enhances brain function, protects your cardiovascular system, and even improves digestive and immune health.

Basically, if you want to improve your overall wellbeing, it’s definitely worth spending a bit more time exercising every day.

The question is: how much time? How long should you exercise every day or every week in order?

The answer to that question comes down to your goals.

Let me explain…

If your goal is just to be generally healthy, you can stick with a “healthy minimum” amount of exercise to maintain a functional cardiovascular system and general fitness level. On the other hand, if your goal is a bit higher—losing weight/fat, getting in shape for a physical competition of some sort, or playing a demanding sport—a bit more time will be required.

Below, we’ll take a look at how much time you should exercise based on what your goals are.

Goal: General Health

For your general health, the U.S. government recommends that you spend about 150 minutes per week [1] engaged in moderate activity, or 75 minutes per week of intense activity.

With this amount of exercise, you’ll maintain a reasonably healthy cardiovascular system and reduce your risk of chronic disease (like heart disease, metabolic disease, etc.)—but not a whole lot more.

Time per week: 75-150 minutes.

Goal: General Fitness

The term “fitness” actually encompasses four pillars:

  • Muscular strength

  • Muscular endurance

  • Cardiovascular endurance

  • Mobility/flexibility

To improve in all four areas, 150 minutes per week is nowhere near enough!

To reach a goal of general fitness will require an average of 300 minutes per week.

This will include:

  • Time to stretch before and after every workout

  • Time to engage in moderate-to-high intensity resistance training

  • Time to engage in high-intensity or low-intensity-steady-state cardiovascular training [2]

Breaking this down to 1-hour workouts 5 days per week is typically enough to help you improve your fitness level!

Time per week: 300 minutes, minimum.

Goal: Weight/Fat Loss

Losing weight and burning fat takes a lot more work than just maintaining your current level of fitness or health. It requires a great deal more focus on the aerobic aspect of your training, which could include either:

  • Lifting heavy weights with longer periods of rest between sets (1-2 minutes)

  • Engaging in more high-intensity exercise (15 to 20 minutes per workout)

  • Engaging in more low-intensity, steady-state exercise (45-60 minutes at a time)

Basically, the goal for fat-burning and weight loss is to keep your heart rate around 55 to 65% of your Max Heart Rate for around an hour. The more you work out, the better your weight and fat loss results will be!

Time per week: 300-400 minutes.

Goal: Physical Excellence

To seriously push your body beyond what it’s currently capable of and reach physical excellence is incredibly demanding—and it’s not something you can do in just a few minutes every day. It requires a concentrated and sustained effort throughout the day, or a longer workout period.

This is because it becomes harder to improve as you approach peak fitness. A newbie can see strength gains of 20-40% in the space of a few weeks because they’re starting from zero. For more experienced athletes approaching the 85 or 90% maximum muscular and cardiovascular efficiency, gains are much smaller and slower and demand more time invested.

To reach physical excellence (think fitness model, Hollywood physique, or competitive-level athlete), you’ll spend at least 1-2 hours working out every day, sometimes up to 7 days per week. It’s an incredibly demanding time investment—which is one reason so few people achieve this goal.

Time per week: 10-15 hours.

Goal: Competitions and Professional Athletes

CrossFitters, marathon runners, Tough Mudders, IronMan racers, triathletes, Strongman and bodybuilding competitors, and anyone engaging in competitions have to push their bodies HARD. Typically, this means [3] pushing your heart rate to 70-85% of its Max Heart Rate, and holding it there for anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. For building strength (for bodybuilders), a single muscle group can require 1-2 hours of resistance training to effectively work out.

Professional athletes can spend up to five or six hours per day in training. This includes sport-specific conditioning, resistance training, general cardiovascular conditioning, and sport-specific agility and coordination drills.

At a minimum, to reach this level of physical fitness, you’ll spend 2 hours per day training at least 4-6 days per week, and the maximum is what your body and time permit.

Time per week: 12-30 hours.

As you can see, the higher your fitness goals, the more demanding it gets—both on your body and time. Set your goals first, then make sure you’re working out enough and doing the right exercises to successfully reach them. Happy training!






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