As a Fitness Coach, one of the most common questions I get asked is ‘how often should I go to the gym?’ – and for good reason. New gym-goers want to ensure they are going to the gym regularly enough to see results, but without overdoing it!
You should go to the gym 2-3 times per week if you are a beginner, 3-4 times if you are at an intermediate level, and 4-6 times if you are an advanced gym goer.
In saying this, before deciding how regularly you hit the gym, there are a few important considerations, including what type of workouts you’re doing, how intense they are, as well as all the other commitments you have in your life.
Your level of experience, also known as training age, is just as important too.
Let’s get started!
How Often Should I go to the Gym?
Before knowing how often you should be hitting the gym, there are so many things to consider and there’s no straight-forward answer. We’ll be unpacking each of these factors, one by one, to give you some insight as to what training frequency is right for you.
When deciding how often you should hit the gym, you should think about:
- Your Level of Experience
- Type of Training
- Training Split
- Training Load
- Your Weekly Schedule
Your Level of Experience
The factor that really moves the needle here is your level of experience. You could have two people who are exactly the same age, height, weight, gender and goals, except one of them should be training 2 times a week, whereas the other could be training up to 6 times a week if they like.
It all comes down to training experience.
It’s all about training tolerance. As you train more regularly, your body starts to adapt. You start to become stronger, fitter and your capacity to tolerate added amounts of training becomes larger.
Someone who has been training consistently for a long period of time can tolerate a lot more than someone who is brand new to fitness.
Use the table below as a general guide for how often you should be training at the gym based on your level of experience:
|Experience||Level of Experience Definition||Weekly Gym Frequency|
|Beginner||New to the gym||2-3|
|Intermediate||Months of Experience||3-4|
|Advanced||Years of Experience||5-6|
Type of Training
Another important consideration is the type of training you’re doing.
In general, strength training causes considerably more soreness, and requires a greater a deal of recovery, when compared to cardio exercise. There’s also HIIT training (High-Intensity Interval Training), which is a combination of both strength & cardio together.
When you’re new to the gym, you’ll probably pull up pretty sore no matter what type of training you complete, which is known as DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). You’ll need to make sure you get adequate recovery and time off to rest the muscles you used in your workout.
However, you’ll notice that over time, you’ll generally recover quicker from cardio training than you will from strength or HIIT training, assuming you’re working your entire body.
For example, it’s possible to work up to an extremely high amount of running or cycling load almost every single day of the week, however, when it comes to strength training or HIIT, you cannot work your entire body to the max every single day – you’ll simply break down if you don’t have any rest days.
You’ll get to a point where you need to change your training split and break up your strength training into different body parts or muscles that you work on different days of the week.
Use the table below as a general guide for how often you should be training at the gym based on whether you are doing cardio, strength-based training or HIIT.
|Type of Training||Weekly Gym Frequency|
|Strength Training (Full Body)||2-3|
This section applies to strength-based training, rather than cardio or HIIT.
A training split refers to which muscles, muscle groups or movements we are performing on particular days throughout the week.
Just like you can divide a pizza into 2, 4, 6 or 8 slices, you can divide your training into:
- A full body split
- Upper/Lower or Push/Pull Split
- Push/Pull/Legs Split
- Body Part Split
The strength training split you choose to use will determine how many times per week you can/should train. As we mentioned earlier, you can’t effectively work out your entire body every single day of the week.
If you want to train more frequently than 2 or 3 days each week, you’ll need to divide your training up into different days. There are also many other factors to consider when choosing your training split, such as how much time you have, what your goals are, as well as whether you do any other types of recreational or sporting activities throughout your week.
Full Body Split (2-3x per week)
When you’re first starting off in the gym, it’s always best to be performing a full body split, as this allows you to practice fundamental, functional movement patterns that will help the muscles in your body to stay well balanced and strong.
Functional exercises, such as push-ups, seated rows, back squats, deadlifts, side planks and single-leg squats are examples of the types of movements you should prioritise learning, practising and slowly loading up.
As you may have guessed, a full body split works your entire body’s musculature each time you workout, which is why it’s important to give yourself rest days in between workouts in order to recover effectively.
A full-body split weekly routine might look like the following:
|Full Body||Rest||Full Body||Rest||Full Body||Rest||Rest|
Upper Lower or Push/Pull Split (2, 4 or 6x per week)
An upper/lower split works the upper body’s musculature on one day, and your lower body muscles on another day.
A push/pull split predominantly works your ‘pushing’ muscles (front of shoulders, chest, quads, triceps) on one day, and your ‘pulling’ muscles (back of shoulders, back, hamstrings & glutes, biceps) on another day.
Whichever you choose, the principle remains the same – breaking up your training this way gives you a chance to rest the muscles you just used on a day you’re training the opposing muscles.
This will allow you to go to the gym more often throughout a weekly cycle, either 2
This type of split might look something like this:
Or, for someone more highly trained:
Push/Pull/Legs Split (3 or 6x per week)
A push/pull/pull legs split breaks your weekly routine into three different days – upper body pushing movements, upper body pulling movements and leg/ lower body day.
Again, breaking up your training this way allows you to rest the muscles you just worked while you work different muscles tomorrow.
It might look something like this:
Body Part Split (5-7x per week)
Finally, you have the body part split, also known as the ‘bro split’.
In this strategy, you break your body up into very specific segments throughout the week.
It might look something a little like this:
|Chest||Legs||Back||Shoulders||Calves & Abs||Arms||Rest|
Here’s a summary table for training split:
|Training Split||Weekly Gym Frequency|
|Upper/Lower or Push/Pull||2, 4 or 6|
|Push/Pull/Legs||3 or 6|
|Body Part Split||5-7|
Another important consideration when deciding how often you should go to the gym is your training load.
In a nutshell, training load is:
The volume or amount of training you’re doing multiplied by the intensity of training you’re doing each week.
It’s impossible to train often at both high intensities and volumes – you’ll simply overdo it and burn out.
Even elite athletes cannot train both at a high intensity and a high volume every single day as it does not allow enough time to recover between sessions.
Therefore, in order to train more often you’ll either need to decrease how intense, heavy or difficult each workout is, or alternatively, you’ll need to decrease the number of sets, reps or exercises in each workout.
Your Weekly Schedule
Arguably the most important thing to consider when deciding how often you should hit the gym is what your weekly schedule looks like.
What other commitments do you have in your life – be it work, family, relationship, or social?
Based on these commitments, realistically, how often do you think you should go to the gym?
It’s important to ask yourself this question and to find something that you believe you can consistently perform for at least four to six weeks.
Don’t get me wrong, we love seeing our clients set the bar high and to aspire to achieve big goals, but you don’t want to aim for 6 sessions a week, only to struggle to actually make it work just a few weeks in.
We recommend starting with something you can consistently do and prove to yourself you can do it. From there, you can add another layer of commitment and before long, you’ll be up to 5 or 6 sessions a week that you complete without fail!
Is it Okay to go to the Gym Every Day?
Going to the gym can be extremely enjoyable and for many people, it becomes a non-negotiable part of their daily routine. But is it actually okay to be going to the gym every day?
It’s okay to go to the gym every day if you’re working different parts of your body on different days, you’re prioritising your recovery, and it isn’t becoming an addiction.
Here are a few ways to ensure that going to the gym every day is a safe experience for you.
Have a Well-Balanced Program
You need to ensure that you have a well-balanced program and you vary what you complete each day.
This might look like working different areas of your body on different days or having a variety of exercise modalities that you perform each day. This way, you can incorporate some therapeutic exercise (yoga, swimming, walking) in conjunction with more taxing forms of exercise (HIIT, strength) across a week.
In order to attend gym daily, you should also prioritise your recovery. This might look like:
- Doing something therapeutic such as massage or stretching
- Post-workout nutrition, such as consuming 25-40g of protein, 25-40g of carbs, and 10g of fat
- Adequate rehydration, replacing lost sweat with water
- Getting 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep
It’s easy for the gym to start becoming an addiction. For all exercise is a fantastic outlet for many people, it can become concerning when we start relying on it too much.
If you find yourself becoming stressed, anxious or overly-frustrated when you miss a gym workout, this could be a sign you’re becoming addicted.
At this point, you should reassess why you’re attending the gym it in the first place and perhaps look at seeing a psychologist or counselor.
How Often Should I Work Out to See Results?
Many clients I’ve had over the years want to know how many sessions per week it takes to really start to make some progress. In order to know how often you need to work out to see results, you need to consider your level of experience.
In order to see results, you should work out at least twice a week to start and ensure you’re working all muscles of your body. Over time, as your tolerance increases, you should try to progress towards 4 or 5 days a week to continue to see progress.
The reality is that beginners don’t need to work out as regularly to see results compared to those at an intermediate or advanced level of training. This is because of the training principle of diminishing returns.
When you’re first starting out on your fitness journey, you can work out as little as 2 times a week a still see results. In this case, you would want to prioritise performing functional, multi-joint movements and work out all areas of your body, rather than only focusing on one group or area of muscles as this
The Next Steps
When you’re weighing up how many gym sessions to do, remember to consider the following.
- Your Level of Experience
- Type of Training
- Training Split
- Training Load
- Your Weekly Schedule
We hope you’ve gained some insight into how different circumstances can really change how many sessions are optimal for you when you visit the gym
If you’re keen to get started at a new gym but aren’t sure how to get started, feel free to drop us a line via our contact page or visit our local gym reviews page as this can help you find a local gym you’ll love and keep coming back to.