We all have a fairly good idea on what we need to do to be fit, flexible and strong for a healthy and active life, but sometimes we get a little lost on how often we should be training. For instance we all know that to improve our fitness we have to do cardio training but how often do we need to do it to see results? And like wise with stretching to improve flexibility and weight lifting to build strength. We know we should be doing these things regularly, but how do you know if you're doing it often enough and what happens if you do it too much?
Let's begin with cardio training for increasing fitness. As we know there is a wide variety of different options for cardio training, from running, to boxing, to skipping or a variety of body weight exercises such as star jumps, mountain climbers or burpees and many more! Whichever form you choose if your goal is to improve your fitness then any or all of the above will be ideal. Now as for frequency, how often is too little and can you do too much? The answer is pretty simple, unless you're training at least every 3 days you won't be increasing your fitness ability. Recovery from this type of training is quite quick. So if you like, you can train every day or even twice a day, but remember to leave at least 1 day in the week as a rest day. Otherwise you will end up eventually over training and your performance will start to decrease.
When it comes to stretching most of us don't do it enough! There basically is no limit on how often you should stretch, every little bit counts and the more often you do it the better. Unlike cardio and strength training, rest days from stretching are not recommended. Do it every day! Also, should you stretch before or after your workout or both? Firstly, you should definitely stretch after every workout as part of your cool down. However, for many years it was believed that stretching before your workout will reduce risk of injury, this is not entirely true. Rather, before you get stuck into your workout perform a 3-5 minute warm up consisting of similar movements that will be involved in your workout but at a low intensity. A proper warm up will be far more beneficial and much better at reducing risk of injury then a few stretches. Keep the stretches for the cool down and improving your flexibility throughout the day.
Finally strength training, do you need to be in the gym 5 days a week pumping iron to build strength? Absolutely not! 1 full body strength workout a week is all you need. For beginners, twice a week for the first couple months while you are learning the correct technique and form is ok, but after that once a week is plenty. After an intense and solid weights workout in the gym it will take 5-7 days for your body to recover. If you consistently do not allow your body enough time to recover over a prolonged period of time you will end up injuring yourself from over training. In this instance, less is more.
Now you should have a little more clarity on what a regular training routine should look like. Feeling a little tight? Perhaps now is a good time for a quick stretch, it certainly wouldn't hurt!