Does working out twice a week enable gains in health and fitness?

This is a really common question. Weekend ‘warriors’ like to pack their week of exercise into Saturday and Sunday. Some people attend a class or exercise during their busy week, then do a weekend workout.

After years of trial and error, work and home life impacting workouts etc., I can say that 2x/week workouts are totally worth it.

Exercising 4–5x/week = gains.

3x/week = modest gains and/or maintenance.

2X / week = maintenance. That is assuming you have a base of fitness to start and put in 2 really good sessions. If you don’t, it is still worth doing the workouts. The alternative is to exercise once or not at all. We all know where that leads. (being sedentary all week, week in, week out and all the mental and physical health problems related to a sedentary lifestyle). 

At 2x/week, I would try to cheat some additional exercise into your week. Any additional activity or exercise will move you from maintenance to making gains.

Some burpees in the morning, a 5 min brisk walk and 5–10 min run – then 5 min walk warm down, some kettlebell swings, some air squats, some stairs, 10 mins on a rower… you get the idea. While I am waiting for dinner to cook, I’ll do rounds of 5 push-ups, 5 air squats, 5 sit-ups and repeat this sequence as fast as possible. Seems underwhelming, but it gets the blood pumping and maintains some basic strength. But the real benefit is in the mindset – that you are doing something active -> for yourself. And when done, you know you found time where most wouldn’t, so feel good about that.

A word of caution. Weeks I’ve just been slammed with travel, work or other obligations, I find 2x/week to be a mentally difficult frequency. Maintaining like this means that each time you work out, it is almost like the first time each time. It is hard, yet you aren’t seeing any gains. It is the right thing to do, but just knowing it is halting decline isn’t super motivating.

A final word on mindset. I am a bit obstinate. I don’t workout based on how I feel or whether I am motivated by it. I workout because I do. It is part of my life, it enables me to achieve my long term goals and if I didn’t do it, I can’t imagine how I would feel. Not basing workout motivation on my feelings is quite liberating. It took me a long time to get into this mindset, but I will never go back. 

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Be well. 

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