How Often Should I Go To The Gym?

How Often Should I Go To The Gym?

clock-circular-outlinePosted 27 Mar 2023

It feels like a question with no real answer — how often should I go to the gym? Perhaps you've committed yourself to the idea of losing weight, or even already joined a gym. In order to stay on the path you have chosen, it's a good start to have an overview of what you should be doing.

So if you’re wondering how often you should go to the gym, it’s worth breaking down your goals. Then, the time you’re committing, and what you’re doing when you’re there, will match up. By kickstarting your routine, you need to put together a schedule that fits around you and your goals, along with something that isn’t putting a strain on your health.

Fitness, wellness, and nutrition expert Penny Weston, a wellness entrepreneur, the director of Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat, and founder of MADE, a 360-degree wellness center, has helped us to break down the confusion around the question ‘how often should I go to the gym?’

Personalized blends of cardio, strength training, core work, stretching, and rest, will all help you achieve your goals over time. It’s simply about getting over the hurdle of knowing what you need to do.

How Often Should I Go To The Gym?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how often anybody should go to the gym. Simply put, how often you go to the gym depends on your goals — gaining muscle, losing weight, keeping more often, on your health, and your lifestyle.

Penny says “I generally advise people to work out at the gym three to five times a week, for about 45 minutes to an hour. If you really want to see results and make progress over time, you need to work out at least four to five days per week, but it will take time to build up to this.”

It's important to note that if you're a beginner, you need to make sure you don't overdo it. Starting off with around two days a week, and slowly increasing the number of weekly sessions, will help you adjust mentally, and physically.

How Frequently Should A Beginner Go To The Gym?

Starting off, heading to the gym around two days a week is a great way to start. It will help your mind adjust to the fact that this is something you’re going to be doing more than just once a week, and get your body into the swing of things.

A good balance is always key. Studies have shown that a combination of cardio and weight training can actually help you to live healthier, and longer.

Splitting the amount of time you spend at the gym into goals will help you decide how much time you need to commit. Penny explains how each goal will require different commitments.

To Increase Fitness And General Health

To increase your general fitness, you should go to the gym four to five times a week. This allows for a balanced workout routine, and allows your body time to recover between workouts.

If your goal is for endurance or burning calories, three days of cardio and two days of strength training would be ideal. If your goal is building strength, you can reverse that, and can also switch it each week.

For Weight Loss

To lose weight, you will need to do around 60 minutes of fairly intense activity a day, and keep your calories in check. This will, of course, vary depending on your diet, weight and age. You can dedicate two days to resistance training, allowing muscles to tone.

Simply put, you need to burn more calories than you consume, in order to lose weight.

Your gym schedule will also depend on how much you move in your daily routine for work. It will vary whether you have a desk job, a commute, or are sat for long periods, versus a job where you are on your feet all day, or if you have a manual job.

It’s important to remember that you’re advised to lose no more than 1 to 2 pounds of weight a week, in order to keep as healthy as possible.

For Muscle Building

For building muscle, you want to focus on two muscle groups per session and to not work on the same muscles two days in a row as you want to allow them time to recover. Three to four visits to the gym a week would be optimum for building muscle.

Studies show that training a minimum of two days per week is needed to maximize muscle growth.

How To Start A Gym Routine

You need to make your goal achievable, and that way, you’re more likely to stick to it. If you plan your workout and pop it in your diary, you’re more likely to make it happen. Often, we are subconsciously looking for an excuse not to do a work out and will find plenty of other things to do but if you know you’ve scheduled it in, you can plan around it, even if it’s a quick 15-minute HIIT session at the gym.

Look at keeping things balanced. The ideal workout will balance cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

If your goal is to be able to run 5k, you can start on the treadmill with the Couch-to-5k app, which breaks it down into manageable steps. Ultimately, healthy adults should be aiming for 150 minutes of exercise a week, but you should take time to work up to this as you don’t want to risk injury by doing too much too soon.

Low-intensity workouts are a good way to introduce the body to exercise, and then you can increase it in a few weeks.

“Take time to learn the beginner exercises, such as squats, lunges and planks as these are used in many workouts so learn these first to build a good foundation,” says Penny. “Also, make sure you spend time stretching before and after your workout. This will help ease you back into exercise and also help prevent injury. I recommend starting with some dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and hip rotation and finishing with cooldown stretches, such as hamstring and tricep stretches.”

Do I Need Rest Days?

Recovery is a huge part of being active. When you take a day off, your body uses that time to repair itself after the workout you’ve been doing. Penny says that “rest days are really key to long-term health, and help avoid injury. Listen to your body too… it will tell you when it needs a rest day!”

In your time off, you can try some restorative exercises, such as yoga, light stretching, or meditation. This will help your body to remain active, and keep in a routine, but give it time to repair, with activities that are more relaxed, but supplement your well-being.

The Benefits Of Regularly Going To The Gym

Many people find that going to the gym makes them feel better in general, both physically and mentally. When we exercise, the body releases chemicals known as the ‘happy hormones' such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, which boost our sense of well-being, and suppress hormones that cause stress and anxiety.

Penny says “keeping exercise fun and consistent is key. For many people, making it a part of your social life is the way to achieve this.”

Regular exercises can also help to maintain muscle mass and bone density as we age. Hormones released in the body while exercising allow muscles to grow and help prevent them from breaking down.


Once you have decided your goals, and are realistic about how much your lifestyle, and health, can cope with, you can start to make a plan. Cardio and strength training are perhaps the most significant forms of exercise when it comes to the majority of fitness goals.

If you can be clear about your goals, and how much time you can reasonably commit to, then it will be more clear how often you need to go to the gym. The guidelines are there, but creating an achievable and sustainable plan is the way forward.

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Mollie Davies is a lifestyle, fashion and beauty journalist. Mollie's work can be found in publications such as Good Housekeeping, Insider, Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and more. In her spare time, she throws pottery, and loves to be with her pooch

Mollie DaviesBy Mollie Davies

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