How often do you need to exercise to improve your fitness?

I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding fitness, fit people, and unfit people. A huge misconception in the fitness world is the amount you have to exercise to make a difference to your fitness, physique and quality of life.

You may assume that as a Personal Trainer and someone who loves training, I probably train every day, or even sometimes twice a day. You’d be wrong. Right now I aim for three good training sessions a week. That’s it. Sometimes I manage a bonus fourth. On a bad week, I might only get one or two in.

I’ve found that one of the most common barriers to people starting out on their fitness journey is the idea that they will have to dedicate a vast amount of time and effort to the process to make any positive change.

I used to perpetuate this myth by telling people that 3-5 sessions a week was the minimum they would need to start seeing results. That’s what I was told, I’d read studies that backed this up, and it fit my world view.

The truth is, it’s a myth. It must be. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

If it’s a scientific fact that you have to train 3-5 times per week to get fitter, then I was seeing the impossible happening every week. A few times a week in fact. I had clients who were training 1 hour, or 2 hours a week with me. Nothing outside of that. Sometimes they’d miss the odd week with me. No hours of fitness that week.

I’d told them that they would never get fitter training 1 or 2 hours a week, no matter how hard they trained. I believed it too. Without exception though, they got fitter. They got stronger. The numbers improved in their sessions. They looked healthier. They told me how much better they felt.

Yes, they could have been doing more, and they would have progressed quicker, but they were still making progress, and not wasting their time as I’d previously thought. Eventually, when they found the time, they did all end up doing more. Not always in exercise, but in healthy living – more steps, eating better – because it complemented their training and they liked feeling good.

My point is- don’t be put off by what seems like a massive gulf between you and ‘fit’ people. It doesn’t exist. Get moving, even if it’s for 30 minutes twice a week, on the weeks you can. It will make a difference. If you enjoy it and you can fit in more, then start to fit in more if it works for you.

Written by Max Cotton from PE for Grown Ups

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