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How many days a week should you really go to the gym?

woman in gym lifting weight

Hitting the gym regularly is great for your mental and physical health, but how often do you really need to go to to reach your goals? 

Maybe you don’t have much free time in your schedule or aren’t looking to achieve a major goal and don’t want to dedicate 5 days a week to it. Or maybe you’ve spent an hour in the gym every day this week and still aren’t seeing results. 

In all my years coaching and training thousands of clients with different goals, I’ve found that there is a baseline that most people should aim for when they work out if they want to see steady progress, build muscle, lose fat, and optimize their workout to get their desired results whether they’re beginners or more experienced. 

In this blog, we will cover some of the most common training routines out there and I’ll tell you which one I think is optimal for achieving your goals and why you need to start incorporating it into your routine right now if you want to make some serious gainz. 

Important elements to consider  


woman sitting in gym doing curls with two weights

Before we talk about the different routines, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and finding the best routine for you ultimately comes down to what you’re hoping to achieve, where you’re at right now with your goals, and your individual variables such as your age, weight, and height. 

You also have to factor in where you train most often because if you train in the gym, you will have access to more equipment and weight compared to a home workout, where you are more limited with what you can use. Not to mention, being in a gym environment can help motivate you to work out more, while it is easier to get distracted at home. 

Both workouts are great for you either way, but when trying to understand the frequency at which you need to train to reach your goals, this also needs to be considered because it does make a difference and can cause varied results. Of course, this is something a coach can give you a more accurate assessment on later, but it is something to keep in mind as we go through the list so you can have a better understanding of what you need to do individually to reach your goals, and how it can vary depending of how you approach them. 

1. The three-day full-body workout 

Woman in gym at squat rack

The first routine is three days per week of full-body training. Great for beginners and intermediates, this routine is ideal for the average person who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym and is not trying to get into competitive bodybuilding but is just looking to stay in shape, lose weight, or build muscle. 

The main benefit of this routine is that you’re training the whole body instead of just doing the “bro split,” where you train a different muscle group a day (such as doing a shoulder day, leg day, arm day, etc.). While you can get results with the bro split, it’s not as beneficial for your overall health as if you were doing a full-body workout that focuses on strengthening everything at once rather than just one area at a time. 

The body is meant to work together as a single unit, so doing a full-body workout is a great way to optimize your time, build more muscle, lose more fat, and get stronger while also burning more calories. That means fewer days in the gym, less time spent working out, but more gainz achieved.

With that said, a good guide to follow for this is:

  • Monday: full body workout 

  • Tuesday: rest

  • Wednesday: full body workout

  • Thursday: rest

  • Friday: full body workout

  • Saturday: rest

  • Sunday: rest

This guide is structured the way it is because you want to allow adequate time for your body to recover and build muscle. Muscles are broken down when you work out, but they are built during recovery, so prioritizing rest time is crucial for making gainz. 

Overall, this is an excellent training split for anyone looking to grow stronger and get leaner but isn't looking to spend a lot of time in the gym. 

2. The four-day upper-lower split 

woman with abs exposed holding two weights

The next option is an upper-lower split, a four-day routine that focuses more on different muscles. This is great for people who have done the three-day split for a while and want more emphasis on specific muscle groups. It is also great for those looking to attain a specific aesthetic goal, such as a bodybuilding goal or a bodybuilder look. 

An example routine for this might be: 

  • Monday: upper day

  • Tuesday: lower day

  • Wednesday: rest

  • Thursday: upper day

  • Friday: lower day

  • Saturday: rest 

  • Sunday: rest 

With this schedule, you train both your upper and lower body twice a week with plenty of rest in between. This split is more advanced than the first one, but it would still be a good routine for most people. It is also great for people who want to go to the gym more than 3 days a week for the physical and mental benefits. 

3. The five-to-six-day split 

woman using exercise machine in gym

Lastly, this training split is the most strenuous, where you train 5-6 days a week. This training split is extremely advanced and will push most people to exhaustion, where you aren’t recovering enough because you’re training too much. But, it is something you can unitize if you have a specific reason for advanced training, such as getting ready for competition, but it should only be done for a short time. Otherwise, it could cost you your results. 

This split is comprised of upper and lower circuits with added cardio, so your schedule for this might look like: 

  • Monday: upper 

  • Tuesday: lower

  • Wednesday: cardio 

  • Thursday: upper 

  • Friday: lower 

  • Saturday: cardio

  • Sunday: rest 

Overall, this split is not ideal for most people as 5-6 days is pretty advanced and can push you too far. If you want to succeed at this, you really have to structure and optimize your lifestyle around this because many people will end up under-recovering if they don't and, therefore, won’t get the results they want. 

It is also essential to talk to a coach before upping your workout routine to this level to ensure it is the right option for your goals and that you can approach it in a safe and healthy way. 

So, how many days should you really go to the gym?

Overall, the three-day full-body routine is best for most people looking to get real results at a steady, manageable pace. Not only is it the perfect amount of time for exercise and recovery, but it also tackles all the muscle groups, helps to optimize your results, and allows you to maintain balance in your life so you don’t lose motivation or focus. It is also a great starting point for beginners but can work well for all levels and can easily be increased in difficulty with the help of a good coach to help you continue to grow stronger without pushing yourself too far. 

The bottom line is workouts should never be too long and should never leave you feeling overworked, as this can push your body too far and doesn’t allow for adequate time for recovery. Not to mention, it can increase your chances of injury and is more likely to make you burn out.

That’s why my company, TeamFFLEX, has been working hard on curating the perfect program that is specifically designed for 3 days a week of training at 45 minutes each to help make your training as easy and as optimized as possible without leaving you wondering if you’re training enough or training too hard. 

If you want to get on the list to be notified when we release this program, enter your email below, and we’ll let you know when it's ready so we can get you set up to reach your goals on your own terms and help you achieve all your dreams this year.  

For more on training frequency, be sure to check out our other blog, Finding the Optimal Training Frequency for you and Signs you may be Overtraining, for additional info on how to optimize your routine the right way so you don't rob yourself of your results.

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