Over the years I have done a lot of different fitness programs, I have heard so many ideas about fitness scheduling, and I have tried to give each of these programs and ideas a shot before coming up with a conclusion on whether I think they are worth the effort or not. As I wrote about in my fitness history, I have tried BeachBody, OrangeTheory Fitness, various DVD programs, at home programs, Pinterest programs, and more. The issue of scheduling, however, is a common thread between all of these programs.
“How often should you workout?,” “How often should you work the same muscle group?,” “How often should you have rest?,” and “Why?,” among a lot of other scheduling concepts. Most DVD programs give you a schedule to follow. Usually they come with a calendar to mark off your workout days or calendars that tell you which DVDs to play on which day. This makes it Easy for you to follow; however, are you capable of following these plans? In reality, these DVD programs are made for the “average” American, well, that doesn’t mean that their scheduling is right for You.
Fitness studio class schedules give you times of day that you can workout, but they usually don’t tell you what days you should be in the studio or how often or what muscle groups you should be training. The go-to answer when you ask the coach in the class, “come in two to three times a week” or “come in as much as you can while letting yourself rest the appropriate amount of time.” But What is the Appropriate amount of time?!
On a side note, my studio TrYumph Functional Fitness, looks at you Personally and determines what you need as an individual before prescribing how often you should workout, as do some of the elite studios around the nation – but it’s not easy to find these studios. If you have one – stay there! They are doing a lot more for you than you ever could!
What does this all have to do with me only working out three times per week? Well, a lot. Let’s start from the beginning:
About one year ago, I was working out A LOT. I was going through the process of getting my personal training certification, trying out my own workout programs, and trying to go to the gym as often as possible. I was learning so much and wanted to do it All. I then started working in sales at OrangeTheory Fitness and they encouraged employees to use their facility/classes regularly – done. I quit my big-box gym membership and worked out solely at OTF about five or six days a week.
I then started an internship at TrYumph Functional Fitness (my current place of employment). This changed my schedule to working out two times a week at OTF and three to five times a week at TrYumph. I had been ready for a change from OTF cardio to more strength training, like I had been doing in my own sessions at the big-box gym, so the internship really started at the perfect time.
I soon started full-time at TrYumph and inevitably left OTF classes behind. I was now doing strength training and HIIT training about five or six times a week. Two of my six days were also TRX classes which work a whole different part of the body, but I’ll talk about that another time. I was able to do six days of exercise perfectly fine. So, again, why cut back to three days a week?
I started burning out. Yes, I could workout six times per week, but if I were to do Every day with heavy weights, I would get exhausted. Then I would have a week where I just couldn’t push myself. I figured my nutrition could be a major key to why my body was becoming exhausted. I did a lot of research and started tracking my calories, macros, etc. I also monitored my heart rate. At TrYumph, we encourage the use of the MyZone to monitor your heart rate, calories burned, and level of intensity for all of our workouts. I was also able to monitor my heart rate patterns throughout the week and determine if there were any changes due to nutrition or exercise intensity.
My cardio levels would go up and down depending on how much rest I had throughout the week, if I had a bad nutrition day, or if I didn’t get enough sleep. With being able to see all of this happening, I knew I needed a change. My nutrition was getting better, but I knew it had a lot to do with this change in my body. I was eating pretty healthy, but not really following a specific plan, and I still drank alcohol and junk food occasionally.
I decided that I needed to give my body a rest and a sort of “reset.” I went on vacation in the beginning of September and actively decided to only work out two times within the Ten days. When I got back to the studio, I had found new strength. I felt like that stint of rest actually Helped me, even if my nutrition hadn’t been the best. I was back at it and felt like I was ready to jump in full-force again.
In October, I started a six week challenge and I was able to push myself hard! I worked out six days a week and tried to dial in the nutrition as best as I could, since that was where I felt my real problem was. I gained some great results, losing about 4% body fat in the six weeks. That 4% body fat loss came with only about 1 lb lost on the scale. I looked completely different but hadn’t lost any weight – which I figured would happen.
2017 Fall 6 Week Rolling Challenge
Left pictures: October 12, 2017
Right pictures: November 22, 2017
.8 lb lost / 4.6% body fat lost
Again, after that six weeks, I felt my body getting tired and drained, my energy was down and I knew I was over training again. I had cleaned up my nutrition, using the 28in28 program that my boss created, so that meant my nutrition was probably Not the reason for the exhaustion.
I then fell into a month of inconsistency. I went away for Thanksgiving, again for Christmas, and unexpectedly over New Years. All of this traveling within a short amount of time threw my body into a weird place. I was not eating appropriately and I was not working out consistently either. I was in Indiana just before New Years recording some video footage for my Debunked YouTube series when I came to the realization that, besides taking a break from working out a week or 10 days at a time for vacation, I hadn’t had a True body revitalization and recovery period in almost TWO YEARS!
What is a revitalization and recovery period? Well, I consider it a time frame (length of your choice) where you truly cut down your fitness activity, take time to recover, and give yourself time to see your true physical gains. Not Gains as in weight gains, but Gains as in strength progress and body improvement. I hadn’t scheduled this into my fitness routines since before I even had fitness routines! It was time for a change.
I knew that once I returned to Florida, I was going to be put into a 12 week transformation challenge at my work. I wanted to do this challenge not only for myself, but also for my clients. But now this realization had hit me and I was stuck between joining the challenge and killing my body even more OR not doing the challenge and letting down myself and my clients. Or, was there a third option?
I always tell my clients to workout with us about three to four times per week, depending on their abilities. Some come in less, some more, depending on what we decide with them during their initial consultation. However, for the majority of our clients, they succeed with three or four workouts per week, along with a dedicated nutrition plan. I thought about this – I tell them to workout three or four times per week and I was working out Six times per week on average for the last year! How hypocritical was that?
That is when I decided I would do only three workouts a week. Not only would my body have sufficient time to rest and recover between each workout, but it would also have Way more time that it ever did in the past two years. Plus, I would be prescribing myself what I prescribe to my clients on a daily basis. I had found the sweet spot for my 12 week fitness plan.
Now that the fitness plan was in place, I now had to decide on the nutrition plan – but that is another blog post in itself. Hint: working out less means a Huge change in my nutrition! Stay tuned!
There it is, my reason for working out only three times per week within the next 12 weeks. Pretty elaborate and detail intensive, I know. But without the background, my reasoning probably would not have made sense for you all. I am going week by week to determine the perfect nutrition plan to match with this fitness routine; however, I can tell you that at my one week weigh-in, I not only lost weigh on the Scale but I also Gained muscle and Lost body fat! Those are the results everyone wants and I was able to do that with working out only Three times per week and really dialing in my nutrition.
Here is one of my 12 week “Before” photos. When I did my initial weigh-in for the 12 weeks, I hadn’t lost much muscle mass and my caliper measurements were the same – I was at almost the exact same measurements as at the end of my six week challenge – and that was over my month of inconsistency!
I am eager to share with you all the results of my 12 week challenge, but I haven’t gotten there yet. My final weigh-out date is the first week of April 2018 – so keep your eyes out for a blog post (or Video!!) of my final results! Let’s see if concentrated nutrition planning and only three days of exercise per week can give me the results that I am looking for.