Workout Frequency: What You’ll Encounter When You Increase It

One common question for guys intensifying their fitness program is “how often should I work out, and how should I ramp up to my targeted frequency?”

These questions have two hidden complexities. So, increasing your workout frequency should be done in a thoughtful way: gradually, with addition of greater variety, and willingness to break routines.


Common questions for guys intensifying their fitness program: How often should I work out? How should I ramp up to that targeted workout frequency?

These questions have two hidden complexities. So, increasing your workout frequency should be done in a thoughtful way: gradually, with addition of greater variety, and willingness to break routines.

Hidden Complexity #1: Deceptively Big Impact

Raising workout frequency means reducing “days off” and increasing “average days in a row.” If you seek a long-term, setback-minimizing ramp-up of fitness, you should focus on these latter two numbers.


Moving from 4x to 5x per week. This is 25% more, right? (one more workout, above a starting base of four). But looking at the other two measures puts this in a different perspective:

⇒ Days-off goes from three to two: a 33% reduction.

⇒ And look what happens to average days in a row. Let’s assume your 4x per week plan is to work out Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s two “one day in a row” occasions, and one “two days in a row,” averaging to 1.3 days in a row.

Now let’s say you increase to 5x. Say, with workouts Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (Wednesday and Sunday off). Now average days in a row is 2.5 – a 92% increase!

From 5x to 6x per week. Sounds like 20% more (adding one onto a base of five). But…

⇒ Days-off goes from two to one: 50% reduction

⇒ Average-days-in-row goes from 2.5 to six: 140% increase!

Interpretation. Like climbing a mountain that gets steeper as you go, these effects on days-off and average-days-in-a-row mean increasing workout frequency presents an accelerating challenge to fitness.

To be clear, brothers, this isn’t a reason not to increase frequency! It just shows the heightened ways it will test you, and provides motivation to smartly plan out how you do it.

Hidden Complexity #2: Consistently Scheduling a Given Workout on Same Day-of-Week

As seen above, going from 5x to 6x is an all-at-once jump from two or three days in a row, to six days in a row. But there are intermediate steps you can take to get there more gradually.

Start always working out three days in a row. Some weeks this will equal six workouts, and sometimes still just five. Let that settle in for a while, then go to four in a row. Then after a while more, to five. This way, you avoid that massive sudden increase to days-in-a-row.

But this creates an additional wrinkle. Got a spin class or boot camp you do on Tuesday and Thursdays? Three, four or five-in-a-row patterns are “asymmetrical” to a seven-day week. So sometimes your natural day off will fall on a Tuesday or Thursday…i.e. the day of your class.

By contrast, pure 5x and 6x per week patterns are consistent week-to-week. The same things always falling on the same days.

Interpretation: As before, this is not a reason to avoid this more-gradual ramp-up! You’ll just have to be more nimble about each week’s fitness game plan. To me, that’s a good thing, man, because it fosters variety and forces you to be Architect of your own fitness.

OK…So What Workout Frequency to Adopt, and How to Get There?

Despite these physiological and logistical complexities, I urge you to:

1. Move workout frequency toward five and hopefully six days per week. It might take you six months or a year to get there – no big deal. You may occasionally backslide. Also no big deal. Just keep moving back toward five or six days per week.

Why? Well, first and most basic, because within limits and while moving cautiously to increase, more is better for your body and mind. You’ll keep your heart, lungs and muscles stronger. You’ll stay more limber (provided flexibility’s part of your routine, which is a must for OlderBeasts). You’ll have more opportunity to get precious solitude and reflective/meditative time.

Also, five plus days a week crosses a mental tipping point, where you work out “most days,” and “days off” are the exception.

By contrast, just four days a week (or especially three) promotes a mindset that on any day, you “may or may not” be exercising. To really make physical activity a habit, you want to get above that tipping point.

2. Don’t jump directly from 5x to 6x. Pass through (or even stay at) “intermediate points” of three, four or five days-in-row. This reduces risk of getting worn down or injured. It also lets you more slowly re-calibrate your food intake and timing to your increasing physical work level.

If this impacts “day of week” things you feel wedded to (like a gym or studio class), consider this a hidden blessing because it promotes variety.

3. Speaking of variety, don’t just increase your frequency – increase variety. There’s a huge difference between running six days a week and doing a week where you run twice, go swimming once, do two strength-training sessions, and do a yoga practice. Moving to a more-varied fitness regime is a key OlderBeast philosophy.


I know 5x or 6x per week is a substantial additional time commitment for many guys. But as the old army recruiting commercials used to say, “freedom isn’t free.”

Do you want to fearlessly embrace your age, double down on fitness so you keep feeling great and looking your best? Not to mention contributing to your happiness and longevity…

If so, this is what it takes, brother. I hope the thoughts here help you successfully move in this direction!

“I ain’t got nothing but love, babe. Eight days a week.” (The Beatles, Eight Days a Week-click to listen)

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

You may also like

Fitness Planning & Gear , Mindfulness & Stress Management , Nutrition & Recipes , Travel & Adventure

Business Trips Hazardous to Your Health? 4 Strategies to Stay Well.

Over my 25+ year career, I’ve spent about 750 nights on the road. Whoa – over two years, man. This can raise “what am I doing?” career questions (it has for me).

But you don’t have to travel nearly that much to face this challenge: how to stay fit, eat decently and otherwise protect your wellness on the road?

Based on longtime self-observation and trial-and-error, here are four approaches to prevent travel from being hazardous to your health.

Fitness Planning & Gear , Mindfulness & Stress Management , Philosophy & Motivation

Why “Solitude + Exercise” is a Key Wellness Formula

One of the great things about certain types of exercise is that we can address two vital questions with one single action: Am I getting enough physical exercise? Am I getting enough high-quality solitude?

I’m willing to be the Oracle of the Obvious sometimes (just ask my wife or kids) But I won’t belabor the “why exercise?” question here.

But let’s discuss “why solitude?” and also “why is exercise time especially good solitude?” These should be prominent themes for any guy doubling down on body-and-soul health.

Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Lifelong Fitness: A Path to Sustainable Motivation for 40+ Guys

“I need to get motivated.” I’ve said this a thousand times over the years.

Once or twice in a big-picture sense when I wasn’t exercising enough, or eating well enough. Many, many times in a next-five-minutes sense. As in, “if I don’t change clothes and start a workout in the next five minutes, I’ll lose my available time window today.”

But it’s been years since I’ve had any big-picture motivation challenge, and I don’t even feel the next-five-minutes version that much anymore.

So what changed for me, motivation-wise?

  1. […] but still look at me like I’m on a different planet when I talk about the finer points of moving from five to six workouts a […]

  2. […] but still look at me like I’m on a different planet when I talk about the finer points of moving from five to six workouts a week. Why? They currently feel in “survival mode” with seemingly 24/7 work demands, business […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.