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How Often Should You Exercise: Is Working Out Once a Week Enough?

Updated on December 14, 2018
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Michael gained 35 pounds of muscle cycling to beaches over the summer once a week.

Wall push ups on a medicine ball.
Wall push ups on a medicine ball. | Source

Is Working Out Once a Week Enough to Build Muscle?

You do not gain muscle while you are exercising. You gain muscle while your muscles are recovering. If you exercise too frequently it can prevent you from gaining muscle. Instead of getting stronger you could become weaker. To build muscle do a difficult exercise, give your muscles time to recover then repeat over and over again. For some workouts it can take 3 to 5 days to recover.

When you do not exercise often enough your body will not adapt to your workout routine. You will not increase your strength or build muscle and the exercise will not become easier. Give your muscles enough time to recover but not too much time. If your strength improves a little every time you exercise then you know you are exercising often enough. I quickly improved my strength and gained a lot of muscle by working out once a week.

Exercising once a week is enough for me to build muscle. It does depend on the workout, the effort you put into it and the amount of time you spend exercising. My daily workouts are short and I recover quickly. My weekly ones are longer and more intense. I work up a sweat and it can take a long time to recover.

The best way to see if you can build muscle working out once a week is to workout once a week. Make sure the workout is hard and try to improve every time.

Is Exercising Once a Week Enough to Improve Endurance?

Doing cardio exercises like running, jumping rope or cycling almost every day is not a good way to improve your endurance. You will wear yourself out and get in the habit of not improving. If you want to improve your endurance then you should be increasing the number of reps, the distance or the duration almost every time. Three days a week is enough. Four days a week is probably too much.

While running on an elliptical trainer once a week I increased my endurance enough to run for 3 hours. After biking outside once a week I was able to bike 60 km in 3 hours. 60 km is around 37 miles. I improved a little every time I did the exercise until I reached my goal. Working out once a week is a great way to improve my endurance.

If you want to increase your endurance try doing a workout once a week. Every time you do the exercise try to last a little bit longer and keep track of your progress. Exercise outside when you can. Bike, run, hike, kayak, canoe, roller skate or swim once or twice a week.

I took this picture after biking 60 km for the first time.
I took this picture after biking 60 km for the first time. | Source

Can You Burn Enough Calories To Lose Weight Exercising Once a Week?

When I was exercising once a week to improve my endurance I burned enough calories to lose inches of belly fat without dieting. I did not lose weight because I gained muscle. Exercising once a week can be a good way to slim down and get fit if you do not mind exercising for 3 to 4 hours in one day. It is not a good way to decrease your body weight because you will probably gain muscle.

If your goal is to reduce your body weight then you should exercise 4 or 5 times a week. Exercising almost every day is a lot easier than doing a weeks worth of exercise in one day and you are less likely to increase your muscle weight. People that are trying to lose weight should avoid gaining a lot of muscle. The extra muscle weight can prevent the number on the scale from going down.

After 3 months of working out once a week I stepped on the scale and noticed that I gained 15 pounds. I lost the belly fat but my muscle weight increased. That is when I stopping trying to lose weight. The easiest and fastest way for me to lose fat is to gain muscle doing endurance exercises like biking and running on an elliptical trainer once a week.

You probably would not lose weight but you could lose inches of belly fat.

I lost fat and gained muscle running on an elliptical trainer once a week.
I lost fat and gained muscle running on an elliptical trainer once a week. | Source

Benefits of Working Out Once a Week

You want your muscles to fully recover before the next workout so you can improve and build muscle. Waiting 3 or 4 days may not be enough. Doing a workout once a week gives your muscles lots of time to recover. You may be able to improve almost every time you do the exercise because you are not overtraining.

When you are doing daily workouts you need to get yourself to do it almost every day. You need to keep motivating yourself to do the exercises and you need to make time to exercise. It is easier to motivate yourself to workout one day a week and it is easier to fit it into your schedule. I liked that I could see and feel the results after 4 workouts. My muscles are not still weak from the last workout and I do not need to hold back because my muscles have lots of time to recover.


How Many Times a Week Should I Workout?

You could workout almost every day, every other day or once a week. How often you should exercise depends on the exercises, what you are trying to accomplish and how long it takes you to recover. I have gotten good results exercising 1 to 6 times a week. Working out once every two weeks is not enough. Sometimes exercising twice a week is too much.

An easy way to check is to pay attention to your progress and how you feel. When starting a new workout routine you should be able to quickly improve your strength and endurance. If you are not improving then you are probably exercising too often or not enough. Increase or decrease the number of times you workout. Experiment to see what works for you. Doing push ups 5 to 6 times a week gave me the results I wanted. Two times a week was too much for long distance biking.

How many times a week do you need to workout to get the results you want? That is how many times a week you should workout. I answer the question by working out and checking my progress. As a starting point I would recommend 3 times a week for most workouts.

You should be getting at least 3 hours of moderate exercise a week. If you exercised 6 days a week then 30 minutes a day would be enough. If you exercise one day a week then that is 3 hours of moderate exercise in one day or 1.5 hours of intense exercise.

Going for a long hike once a week is a good way to get in shape.
Going for a long hike once a week is a good way to get in shape. | Source

Work Out Less and Get Better Results

If you do enough in one day then exercising once a week is enough. It may even be better than working out more frequently. Sometimes working out less can give you better results. My daily workouts were not giving me the results I wanted. When I started doing weekly workouts I quickly lost fat and gained muscle. I got the results I wanted and I was able to do things that I could not do before.

Even though I was only doing the exercises once a week it improved my breathing and strengthened my heart. It reduced my resting heart rate and slowed down my breathing. I lost fat and gained muscle. When I want to get my body ready for beach season I do a weekly workout because it gives me better results than working out 5 days a week.

Some workouts should be done almost every day. Others should be done once or twice a week. I have gotten good really results biking, running, jumping rope or hiking once a week. My weekly workouts are usually endurance workouts but I quickly gained a lot of muscle biking to the beach. Pick some exercises that go together. I try to do at least 3 different exercises on the same day.

I increased my strength and endurance, lost fat and gained a lot of muscle doing cardio once a week. I also strengthened my heart and lungs.

Some people say exercising once a week is not enough. I have a lot of experience doing weekly workouts. Exercising once a week can be enough. I like being able to improve almost every time. Even though I highly recommend doing a weekly workout you should get some exercise every day. Are you likely to see results lifting weights once a week? I think you could because biking up hills once a week made my legs bigger. Lift weights once a week to find out.

When you are planning to exercise once a week think big and have ambitious goals. Challenge yourself. Do not use a daily workout as a weekly workout. For better results treat it as an exercise day and get a weeks worth of exercise in one day. Exercise, rest and then exercise some more. Alternate between exercises and alternate the intensity of the exercises so you can last longer.

© 2018 Michael H


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