Whenever we meet with a new member at CrossFit Undeniable, we often get some form of the following question:
How often should I be working out in a week?
It’s a fair question! You’ll find different numbers everywhere. The infamous “Fitness in 100 Words” document contains one answer:
Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these element in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow.
Still, that leaves some open questions. What if I’m just starting out, and I’ve never worked out before? What if I run/bike/rock climb/etc on top of CrossFit?
Here’s how we break it down when new members join Undeniable so they can be as successful as possible.
Our Ultimate Goal
Let’s start by articulating the ultimate goal for long-term health and well-being.
Your goal should be to get some kind of movement in every day. At least five of those days should be moving with some form of relative intensity utilizing full body exercises that move your body in a full range of motion.
This, paired with a diet of whole foods (including tons of vegetables) will have you moving in the right direction.
Is that where we start? Does that mean you should do this every single week even when sick? No and no.
Factors That Influence Your Training Schedule
A variety of factors influence how frequently you should train. These things are also highly individual.
- Training Age – Are you brand new to working out? If so, you’ll want to slowly build up your body to more and more volume to prevent injury.
- How You Feel – Feel like you’re getting sick? Are you too sore to lift your arms overhead?
- How You Eat – Nutrition impacts everything including your recovery between workouts.
- How You Train – If you’re coming off of a competition weekend where you completed six events over two days, your body is going to feel a bit beat up!
- Other Stressors – If your job, family life, or other obligations are pushing you to the max, an intense workout might be the last thing you need (or it might be exactly what you need).
So, How Often Should I Train?
Again, this is highly individual. When in doubt, ask a coach! However, here are some general guidelines.
I’m brand new to CrossFit and working out in general.
Start with three days per week with at least one day off in-between (Mon, Wed, Fri works well). On your “rest” days between workouts, go for an hour-long walk. Every six to twelve weeks (highly individual), add a training day until you get to at least five training days per week.
I’m new to CrossFit, but I’ve been physically active for awhile.
Start with a Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat schedule. Similar to above, stay active on your rest days. Go for a walk and/or do some light stretching plus bodyweight squats. While your body is certainly used to exercise, it might not be accustomed to the intensity or range of motion introduced by CrossFit. Over the course of six to eight weeks, add in a fifth day.
I’m an experienced CrossFitter, but I also run/rock climb/bike/hike/etc.
One of the best parts of CrossFit is putting your fitness to work outside of the gym. So, get out there! Stay active with other hobbies you love and enjoy. Fitness can happen anywhere, not just within the walls of the gym.
How often you train will depend a lot on your intention. Are you trying to PR your marathon time? If so, you might do a little less CrossFit and a bit more running than if you were just casually interested in running.
As a general guideline, incorporate at least 3 days/week of CrossFit on a set schedule (Mon, Wed, Fri works well). If you can swing a fourth day, either Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri or Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat work best. Build your other fitness hobby around that schedule. Just be sure you leave one complete rest day each week. Meaning, don’t run/hike/swim every day you’re not doing CrossFit; your body won’t get any kind of break.
When in doubt, ask a coach!
I’m a regular CrossFitter, but I was out for over a month.
Maybe it was a busy month at work or you were dealing with an injury. Whatever the reason, this kind of situation can be tough! You’re eager to jump back in, but hopping right back into your normal routine can be tough if you’ve been out for an extended period.
Consider how many weeks you’ve been out of your normal routine. Be prepared to gradually re-introduce your routine over the same time horizon. If you were out for six weeks, you could start back up with 3-4 days a week, scaling the workout as appropriate, and gradually work your way back up to 5-6 days of consistent training at your normal workload over the same six-week period.
I’m a regular CrossFitter, but I was out for a few weeks.
Vacations are awesome! You know what might not be as awesome? Your first workout back after you’ve enjoyed nothing but delicious food and some well-deserved beach lounging!
If you’ve been out for a few weeks, you can probably hop back into your normal training volume (5-6 days per week). However, be prepared to scale the workout for the same duration as you were gone. Meaning, you might be hitting your normal schedule, but the intensity piece might be tricky for a few weeks.