I have been getting a lot of questions lately about how many days per week should you workout, what is too much and how I train personally so I thought i would post about it.
First, I think this depends on why you workout? Is it for looks? For health? For your sport? Because it is the right thing to do? I believe all of these things come into play when discussing the topic of "off days" or "rest days". We have recently changed our membership policy to an open model, where clients can train up to 6 days per week, which has allowed many of them to workout more often which is awesome.
Let's start with those of you that train for looks:
I think it is totally ok for you to train 5 or 6 times a week, but you definitely want to take at least one day off per week. You probably work pretty hard when you work out and you probably enjoy it, so you won't burnout mentally. If you want to take Saturdays and Sundays off that's fine, but get in Monday-Friday because if you are training for "looks" then you will definitely get more from 5 days a week than 4.
What about if you workout for your health?
To me this is a person who is not a fanatic about exercise and might be a little older, therefor mental burnout needs to be addressed. This person needs to train a minimum of 2-3 days per week and never take more than 3 consecutive days off. So if you take Saturday, Sunday and Monday off then you better be in Tuesday. Tuesday and Thursday is risky for this person because they might not stick with it and get all the benefits from their program. It is ok to start out 2 days per week but then you need to quickly up it to 3, after about a month. I see a 2 day per week person not really benefiting from exercise as they should and probably quitting. BUT....this does not mean it is not good, just make sure you do something on your own a third day, like jog, walk, bike or even swim. Three days a week is key to keep you consistent.
What about for your sport?
This is where it gets tricky. It really depends on your sport and whether or not you are in season. This advice is better to get from your personal coach but I will address CrossFit because it is my sport and I am a coach for it. First, be careful with over training. I have been guilty of this myself, primarily because it is something I enjoy so much. But most people who do crossfit competitively workout at such a high intensity all the time, especially if they train in a group. CrossFit HQ teaches that you should train 3 days on and 1 day off, this keeps you recovering on a set schedule which is great. However, most people like having a set schedule that relies more on a Monday-Sunday schedule than a 3 on/1 off schedule. So, my advice is experiment with different options but always listen to your body. If you train hard Mon-Wed and you wake up Thurs eager to workout and do the wod for that day, then do it and see how you feel Friday. The best advice I can give you is take at least one day off every week and recharge mentally and physically. Also, remember that you will always come back refreshed when you take a day off, so if you workout Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday off, you will come back stronger Thursday.
And if you train because it is the right thing to do?
I would follow the same guidelines I gave up top to people who train for their health.
How do I handle days off?
I like to approach the week thinking I am going to workout everyday, then I take the day off that either I feel (physically feel) I need off or the extremely busy day (due to time) that does not allow me to take off. For example, this past weekend Alicia, my wife, and I were in Bastrop staying at the Hyatt Lost Pines enjoying some time away and together. Saturday we visited the outlet malls in San Marcos and I really never had time to workout. I realized that spending time with Alicia and enjoying the day was more important than working out, so I took the day off. My last day off before that was Monday because of it was such a busy day. You see how that works? That is just how I approach this, some people do it different.
In conclusion, I hope this post helps you out and if you have any questions feel free to comment!
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.