If you’ve ever browsed a trainer’s Instagram—and I recommend it—you may end up 17 weeks deep and guilty for every minute you spend outside the gym. Sure, it would probably be helpful to get a work out in before you head to the office today. But there are only so many hours in a day, and you just worked out. Don’t you deserve a break?
Yes, but just a small one, according to Dan Giordano, who started the Bespoke Treatments physical therapy center in NYC. “When you exercise, you make tiny tears in your muscle fibers. If you don’t get your rest, the repair process will slow down,” says Giordano. One day of rest per week should be enough to let your body heal. Yes, that’s six days of working out. Choose your day off wisely!
Beginners should start with 150 minutes of cardio a week. If you have to think about whether you’re a beginner, then you probably are, says Giordano. Alternate between your cardio workouts and strength training to reach your six days a week.
Basheerah Ahmad of 360T Fitness on OWNZONES recommends thinking more about your fitness level before building a workout plan. If you’re new to exercising, Ahmad says, you may see results from two to three days per week of “moderate exercise at a low intensity for 30 to 60 minutes”. (Try these at-home strength training exercises or simple yoga poses.) Once you consider yourself physically fit, increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts. Ahmad recommends her fit clients work out a minimum of four to six times per week, in 45 to 90 minute sessions.
With a potential nine hours of working out each week, it’s crucial to keep yourself from getting injured and, almost as important, bored. “When the same type of activity is repeated daily, you’re placing extra stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments used most often in that activity. Not to mention, doing the same thing every day leads to boredom and burnout,” says Ahmad. She also recommends at least one full day with zero activity or simply light stretching and sauna time.
Don’t worry, you’ll know if you’ve overdone it. Giordano says when “overtraining” occurs, you’ll feel fatigued and constantly exhausted—far more than from a normal intense workout. You may hit a weight loss plateau and women may notice a change or absence in their menstrual cycle. So make sure you take that sauna day! Hopefully you’re more than happy to spend one day inside, but for those freaking out about how to spend a day out of the gym, here’s a healthy pumpkin cookie recipe and a DIY avocado face mask—you’ll figure out what to do.
READ MORE: 8 Signs You’re Running Wrong