Sounds like a pretty open-ended question doesn’t it?
I’m going to try and answer it without coming across all wishy-washy and fluffy like a huge wishy-washy, fluffy thing.
A lot of articles you’ll read on the subject will answer the question like a politician. They’ll skate around the ACTUAL question without ever actually answering it.
The answer is… <drum-roll>
It depends on your goals.
Not what you wanted to hear right?
Well, I can show you a bunch of ‘goals’ then I can add a day range to those. Happy? Good.
#1 Fat loss
When you’re considering a fat-loss approach, keep in mind that your diet is 80% of the issue. It’s much easier to improve the things you are eating, than use cardio/weight training to burn through the excess (rather than approaching it the other way round). You can run, sprint, walk and lift weights until the cows come home but if you don’t alter what’s going into your pie-hole, your results will be less than inspiring.
Ok, so in terms of days you should be training, I’d say no less than 4, and no more than 6. You’re body will need some serious rest if you are going to hammer it from all angles with cardio and weights.
Note: Ladies, I know you are probably just thinking treadmill, treadmill, treadmill, but to be honest, the best female physiques (and im not talking scary female bodybuilder ones) can ONLY be found on women that do BOTH cardio and weight training period. Weights won’t make you a monster. Trust me on that ;)
#2 Muscle size and strength
If it’s muscle or strength you are after, I’d recommend no less than 4 days a week for optimal results. That’s not to say 3 days won’t work, it’ll just take you a lot longer to get the results you’re after (in my own personal experience that is. This may differ for you, so see the bit about ‘finding your sweet spot’ below). For example, 4-5 days works for me, but that may not work for you.
#3 General fitness
By this I mean, are you just looking for good cardio vascular health, to be able to play with your kids and to look pretty reasonable when the swimming trunks are donned at the beach. This is where 3 days a week is probably enough. I say probably, because you’ll need to be a lot more careful with what you eat the less you burn calories with exercise.
Finding your own sweet spot
This is trial and error, and there is no right answer. Don’t be conned into thinking there is. We are all different and adapt to training volume and intensity differently. I have seen guys and girls with REALLY low BF levels who only train 3 days a week. They probably eat a lot less, have very active jobs or results are due to other genetic factors.
If you’re sick…
Don’t train at all. Stay at home and rest. If I see you in my gym coughing and spluttering you might find yourself leaving with more than just a cold.
Yes that was a threat :) <— smiley face.
Editor’s Note: What’s your sweet spot. How often do you train? Comment below.