Your New Year's Resolution: How Often Should Beginners Exercise?

Your New Year's Resolution: How Often Should Beginners Exercise?

When you start exercising, you may be wondering:

What activity should I do?
Where and how should I do it?
Does 20 minutes of jogging make up for eating all that chocolate? (Nah)

You may also wonder about how often to exercise:

How long is an ideal exercise session?
Do I need to do it every day?

Really, it all depends on your objectives. We’ll help you figure it out

How much should you exercise to tone or gain muscle?

Maybe for the new year you've warmed up to the idea of being a little more toned and muscular. Luckily, you don’t need to copy the training sessions of an elite bodybuilder to achieve this, nor do you have to gulp gallons of protein shake every day, either. With a bit of effort and time, you’ll see changes. So what's the best method? Weightlifting!

A weightlifting program usually consists of three hour-long sessions a week that let you work on all of your body’s main muscle groups (legs, arms, pecs, back). This encourages nice, optimal growth. You need to leave at least 24 hours between sessions to let your muscle fibers recover and avoid injuries. Be sure to stretch!

It’s also possible to reduce the length of sessions to 30 minutes a day, three days a week. In this case, five sets will give you results.

If your only goal is to create a nice silhouette and remain healthy, two hour-long sessions per week are enough. Those two semi-weekly hours will let you improve your form and muscle tone.

How often should I exercise to lose weight?

Losing weight is one of the biggest motivations for people starting out on their fitness joruney! While there's a lot of (sometimes contradictory) information out there, what you mostly need to know is this: your body is already burning fat a few minutes into exercising. And the longer your session, the more effective your effort becomes. It’s also recommended to alternate speeds (interval training, i.e. varying your speed between a sprint and a jog) to accelerate the process.

Most importantly, consistency is key to your success. It’s not enough to do one two-hour session a week without doing anything the rest of the week. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts as exercise, as does riding your bike instead of driving a car. The WHO (World Health Organization) states it elegantly: “Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement … that requires energy expenditure.”

It’s important to remember to keep rest days in your exercise week: Your body needs time to recover. It’s counterproductive to practice every day because of the risk of injury.

So if you're just starting out and looking for a way to add exercise into your life, our best is advice is this: exercise regularly, listen to your body and leave enough time for recovery. Start off with a reasonable and easy goal and then increase as you see fit. If you set goals that are much too difficult, you will be less inclined to stick with your new habits when all the progress you're making seems small by comparison!

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