YVONNE CULLETON COLUMN: How many times a week should I train and how to keep on track?

YVONNE CULLETON COLUMN: How many times a week should I train and how to keep on track?

We all know that keeping active and exercise is crucial for optimal health, but how many times per week and how much time we spend working out can vary, due to many things like goals ie. weight loss, fitness levels, type of training, intensity of sessions, age, time we have due to our busy lives!! Realistically we should be doing some sort of physical activity for 30 mins a day or maybe more!!

But for an organised gym session 3-5 times per week again depending on your goal.

I have so many ladies who are just starting out on their fitness journey and the advice I’d give them would be start with 2 times per week and try a class or type of training you like. That way it won’t become a ‘chore’ and you’ll slowly begin to enjoy exercising and are a lot more likely to sustain it. Also if your attending a class for the very first time, take your time and go at your own pace during class.

The last thing you want is to go hell for leather into it, you will just burn out to quickly and instantly think you’re not able for it. Never compare yourself to anyone else in the class either. Everyone has their own pace and fitness abilities. It’s the taking part that’s important and you getting what you want out of the work out, progress will follow.

If your goal is weight loss training 3-4 times a week is recommended. Mixing it up with different types of physical activity would see greater results too. And monitoring your heart rate is a brilliant way of ensuring you are hitting those fat stores. If you keep your heart rate up at 50%-70% of your max heartrate ( minus age from 220 ) for 20-30 minutes you will keep in that fat burning zone.

A simple heartrate monitor for your wrist or an app on your phone will monitor that for you. Cardio sessions like running, Boxercise, HIIT, spinning are all excellent for burning fat at consistent rate.  Resistance training is another excellent form of training to burn fat and lose weight. Being consistent with your nutrition and training 3-4 times per week will lead to consistent sustainable weight loss.

For improving or maintaining fitness levels 3-5 times per week is sufficient, making sure you give yourself a rest day maybe after 2 sessions in a row or if its resistance training make sure it’s a day after each session depending on the volume of training!

Depending on the type of training 30 mins - 1 hour should be spent on each training session, maybe an hour for resistance training as warming up and mobilizing is crucial.

It is hard some weeks to try and fit in all our training sessions but you can always improvise with going for a brisk walk/run, maybe doing a workout video on Youtube at home if you can’t get out. Parking the car a good bit away from the shop, school, house, or your work place. All these little extra bits will add up to energy expenditure.

Or if you are working in an office or sit down a lot in your job try doing some squats or lunges when your waiting on the kettle to boil or while on the phone! Taking out some flies from the filling cabinet drop down and hold the squat for 10 seconds! Make it a routine maybe one or twice a day! Take the stairs all the time too. Lunchtime is also handy for walks or attending an exercise class.

But training doesn’t always have to be for all of the above. Even training twice a week is very beneficial to our mental health. Getting out and doing something for YOU even if it is working out!! The social aspect of training with others and being part of a motivational group will do wonders for your mental health.

Keeping on track of your training can sometimes be a challenge, sometimes you have a week where everything seems to be happening that week, and if you miss a few sessions or a week just put it behind you and start again. It happens to us all.

Or make those extra trips up and down the stairs, squat with the kids on your back!!! If your down with sickness and are on medication REST… Its so important to let your body recover and get over what sickness you have or it will delay the healing process and that will set you back even longer.

And of course sleep is extremely important for active individuals. Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep a night, some people 6 hours is enough (not me anyway!) but sleep is essential for optimal training levels and energy levels. It’s the most annoying thing ever when you don’t get enough sleep and it really does affect the way you train. I take magnesium which helps me sleep better and helps relax my muscles after a long day at the gym and maybe 2 training session on top of that!!

A workout buddy is very useful to keep you on track. You can motivate each other and if one person isn’t feeling it the other can get them going. I’ve seen it work so many times. My father and sister have been working out together the last 6 weeks and it’s amazing to watch them shout each other on. And they don’t need me there a lot of the time they head on up to the gym and work away themselves.


We all have our days where we don’t feel like exercising or if the weather is bad we tend to be less motivated, but making yourself get up and go is an achievement in itself, the exercise part is the easy part!! There really is no better high than the high we feel after an exercise session..

I hope this has helped you in some way remember everybody is different so what works for you might not work for your friend, brother, sister etc. We all have our own unique DNA and our body respond differently to different forms of training, and everyone has their own preference on training, so do what suits YOU.

Thanks again for reading,

Yvonne. x

See also: YVONNE CULLETON: Why women should do weight training

See also :YVONNE CULLETON: Keeping a food diary in the battle for weight loss

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