How Often Should You Work Out and When

With so much conflicting advice out there, knowing how often and when to workout can be confusing. From the benefits of early mornings vs late nights, length of time in the gym vs number of reps, we’ve turned to our Wellness Panel of top personal trainers, yoga teachers and Pilates instructors to give us their expert opinions. Read on to find out what will work best for you...

HOW OFTEN TO WORKOUT

MIX IT UP
“It really depends on individual lifestyles – if you're under serious stress or have a very physically demanding job, it might actually be healthier to take some down time and back off from exercise. However, I really believe that we should all do some kind of healthy movement every single day. Sometimes that could be a gentle flowing yoga practice or a stroll and other times it could be a hardcore weight training or cardio session.” — Shona Vertue, Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher

“There's still a bit of a belief ingrained in us that exercising should take an hour and burn off as much fat as possible.  Doing dedicated and mindful 30-minute sessions several times per week is much better than pushing yourself through longer, joyless sessions less often. Aim for a balance of lengthening, toning and strength training (e.g. Pilates or yoga), paired with some heart-pumping, cardio sessions (e.g. spinning, HIIT or running). You should move as much as you can and want.” — Jess Schuring, Celebrity Trainer and Founder of Heartcore

“It really depends on the type of exercise you are doing. With something like HIIT, you really need to allow 48 hours between each session so your body can rebuild its glycogen stores and you avoid an overload of cortisol in your system. With low-impact, low-level exercise methods, such as yoga or Pilates, you can afford to work out more frequently – just listen to your body! The key is to mix it up and leave the body guessing, while always remembering to give yourself at least one full rest day per week.” — Hollie Grant, Founder of The Model Method

 

TAKE A REST DAY
“Three times per week is a good base standard that everyone should be hitting. And by this I mean getting sweaty and out of breath while you work out. Once you have been training for while, you might want to up quota to as many as four to five sessions per week. I always recommend taking two rest days per week, and for every three hard training sessions you should add in one stretch or yoga session.” — Helle Hammonds, Founder of GymClass

 

STICK TO A ROUTINE
“It's important to keep your sessions frequent, as this gets you into the exercise habit. Rest days are also vital – take at least one per week. I would recommend mixing things up throughout the week, from yoga to HIIT.  Find out what works for you by getting to know your body.”  — Paola di Lanzo, Founder of Paola’s Bodybarre

“This is very goal dependant. Whether you want to gain muscle, cut down and get lean, add strength, or just maintain your current figure, the amount of times that you train per week can directly correlate to the outcome. If you’re looking for solid results, I’d strongly recommend that you don’t exercise less than three times per week. If training to lose weight, focus on doing three to four sessions every week.” — Claire Finlay, Founder of Transition Zone

“My advice is three to four workouts a week, meaning anything from a yoga session to a spinning class or HIIT – whatever you love! On the days you aren’t getting a ‘full’ workout in, try walking or cycling to work or walking to the shops so that you incorporate some physical activity into your day.” — Julie Montagu, Yoga Instructor and Certified Holistic Health Coach

 

 

WHEN TO WORKOUT 

IN THE MORNING
“Exercising in the morning is best, as you are less likely to get side-tracked and studies suggest your willpower depletes over the course of the day. Diarise your sessions so that you keep track of them and don’t miss any. Early morning workouts set you up for the day, giving you increased energy and vitality.” — Claire Finlay

“For me, first thing in the morning is the best time to work out.” — Madeleine Shaw

“I would say the morning is best, however it really does depend on the lifestyle and their work/life balance, as a demanding job with early starts might not permit this. My rule of thumb is to follow your natural cortisol spike, so that you train when you're at your most energetic and alert. For me that is between 8-11am. Any time later in the day and I find every excuse under the sun to avoid doing it.” — Shona Vertue

 

 

AS AND WHEN YOU CAN FIT IT IN
“The best time of day to workout is down to the individual, as some people find they push harder in the morning and vice versa. I would recommend trying out a few different timings to ascertain what feels best for you and your schedule.” — Helle Hammonds

 “I’m a believer of getting a workout in whenever you can. I don’t think there’s a best or worst time – just fit it into your schedule.” — Julie Montagu

“Whenever you feel strongest – work out the training routine that fits your lifestyle best. We all run on different inner time zones and, while some of us prefer to workout first thing in the morning, many others feel ready to get moving later in the day. You may find that you sleep better after an evening yoga session, while a more heart-pumping class first thing in the morning makes you feel more alert and alive.” — Jess Schuring

“I really do think this is down to personal taste. Some people have more energy first thing in the morning, however if you have energy to burn after work or a really stressful job then I would suggest going straight from the office. It also depends on your fitness goals. If your main aim is to lose weight then you may benefit from 'fasted cardio' in the morning. If your main aim is stress relief then post-work may be best. Just listen to your body and try to train at peak energy times to maximise your workouts.” — Hollie Grant
 

 

LATER IN THE DAY
“Research suggests that the best time to train is between 2.30pm and 8.30pm, when we are adequately fuelled, more energised and our cortisol levels are lower. Morning sessions are harder on the body so if you prefer them then ensure you re-fuel and rehydrate your body afterwards, as this is vital for recovery.” — Paola di Lanzo
 

Inspiration Credits: TheOdysseyOnline.com, TheOutfit.com