How Many Days a Week Should I Work Out to Lose Weight?

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Would you believe?

According to one government study in the United States, 66.3% of adults are overweight or obese. That means 2 out of every three adults could stand to shed a few pounds.

If You are asking yourself or others this question: “how many days a week should I work out to lose weight?”

I could tell you, but… 

measuring belly

…But the truth is this:

You see I could give you a number, even try and back it up with scientific evidence, but what I have learned is this:

Exercise alone has not been proven to cause significant weight loss. In other words, you can not outrun your fork.

The truth behind weight loss

What?? No!

OK, don’t drop the dumbbells just yet!

Most people do not want to “lose weight” just because they want a certain number on the scale, or a certain percent BMI.

What do most people who “want to lose weight” REALLY want? They want to LOOK good and FEEL good, and usually both. And this is why exercise is a MUST.

Here is what exercise CAN do, and why you SHOULD Exercise

  • Improve your mental health, lift depression, relieve anxiety etc,
  • Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that, frankly, make you happy. Runner’s high, anyone?
  • Gives your body a great shape. No matter how thin you are, no one looks hot with a flat butt. Just saying. Come hither sexy lean muscle!
  • Supports weight loss and helps maintain it, when combined with a good diet.

OK, Back to the original question:

How many days a week should I work out to lose weight?

pants too big

A quick research

OK, off the top of my head, I am going to say one hour, 3 to 5 days a week. Since this answer is neither scientific, not backed by any health organization, I decided some research was in order.

Here is what I found:

The ACSM or American Council on Sports Medicine, has 3 recommendations, depending on your goal.

  • To Prevent Weight gain: 150 to 250 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. If your workouts are 50 minutes long, that is between 3 to 5 days a week, about what I thought.
  • For Weight Loss: 150 to 250 for minor weight loss but more than 250 minuets per week for significant weight loss. So, for significant weight loss you need to have either 6 days a week of 50 minutes each, or just have longer workouts and less days. NOTE: The ACSM states that calorie restriction increases weight loss, so you can combine calorie restriction with a moderate exercise time, and lose a good amount of weight.
  • To maintain Weigh Loss: Some number less than 250 minutes per week. This makes sense to me because I workout between 3 to 5 days a week for 1 hour and have had no problem maintaining my weight loss.

How Many Days A Week Should You Workout To Lose Weight?

One of my favorite bloggers or vloggers Jessica Smith TV says that we need to listen to our body and take our queue from there. We need to find what works for us.

scale with apple

Jessica also mentions something else that was on my mind too:

What constitutes “exercising”?

For example, if I commit to 3 to 5 days a week, do all those days need to be in the gym or working out at home for those abs?

Does a ½ day forest hike count? What if I spend an hour chopping wood and piling it on the side of the house? Is that a workout? What if I go to the water park with my boys, or spend the day swimming in the ocean?

I would say, yes, these activities do count as “working out”.

Don’t overtrain

Personally, I still try to get to the gym a MINIMUM of 3 days a week to get specific, instructor guided strength training, which is invaluable to me.

Can you work out every day?

To be honest, it is not a good idea. Our bodies need rest time. Rest is when our bodies build muscle and regenerate other tissue such as ligaments and tendons.

Working out every day can lead to a phenomenon called overtraining.

What is overtraining? Overtraining happens from working out too much and not giving your body a chance to recover.

body injury

Clues you may be overtraining:

  • Waking up tired
  • Your menses stop
  • Problems with libido
  • Depression, irritability
  • Can’t concentrate

While these can be signs of other health problems, if you are training frequently with very high intensity, you may want to consider your training regimen.

Note: Calorie restriction and lack of sleep contribute to the effects of overtraining and you will arrive at the state much faster if you are eating and /or sleeping less too.

OK, so you really want to lose fat?

So what should you do to lose weight

One of my favorite sources for all fitness related topics r/fitness has this article pinned in their wiki, and the article is worth the time it takes to read and then some.

The Best Fat Loss Article on the Mother#&@!^’ Internet

I realize the article does not have a pretty name, but fat is not a pretty topic. The article is not for the faint of heart, or the easily offended, or for anyone that can not stomach the F-word, but if you ask me, it is worth a read.

FWIW they do offer a link to a child-friendly version of the article, so you can read it sans the bad words.

The article is empowering because it helps you realize that the ability to change lies within you and discourages excuses.

scale on floor

Excuses are disempowering and only thwart change. Avoid them! The article busts some diet myths apart and does so in a hilarious manner.

The article lays out the basics in a way that is straightforward, logical, and just funny. I can not recommend the article highly enough if fat loss is your goal.

Let us know what you think in the comments! How many days a week are you working out, and how has your weight loss journey been? We would love to hear from you.

Katie

Katie

Katie is a busy wife and mother of four. She is a freelance writer and frequent contributor on Garage Gym Power. She guards her gym time jealously, and would rather miss a PTA meeting or get takeout for dinner than miss a workout.