How often do I need to be exercising to get in great shape?

Without using my normal answer – it depends. But for resistance training I am going to give you a range of 3-5 a week.

– this could be anywhere from 60mins(3x20mins) to 5hrs total a week.

Now there are probably going to be two camps here:

1.       You aren’t hitting 3 a week so your main bottleneck is likely motivation and/or time (which really means prioritization).


2.       You are doing over 5 sessions and/or over an hour per session. So you’re likely not making the best use of your time in the gym or your diet is way out.

Which camp do you fall into?

I am going to dive into both but let’s start with the low frequency…

Camp 1:  you struggle to get in 3 times a week.

Main reasons: lack of motivation and/or lack of time (AKA not making it a priority)

My suggested range for most people is 3-5 sessions a week – totaling 1-5hrs TOTAL for the week.

So, this could be 3x20mins right up to 5x1hr sessions.

Now this suggested range depends on a lot of factors, but generally it’s recovery, which includes:

-Sleep quality

-Stress from external and INTERNAL factors

-Gut health and ability to absorb and utilize food

*One other major limiting factor is the quality of movement and exercise mechanics – if you think you struggle with “form” we go through this day 1 of the 7 Day Challenge.

So, TIME is not something I consider as your main obstacle – it’s your ability to PRIORITISE then recover.

This is something I hold onto passionately because I have worked with clients who have families, have businesses, run half the COUNTRY and everything in between. The difference between them and you (if you struggle with time) is your ability to MAKE time.

So as long as you can find 20mins, 3 times a week, all we need to optimize is prioritising training and recovery into your day around everything else – i.e. sleep, gut, stress.

The other main bottleneck here is MOTIVATION.

Before we go further here I would like to separate MOTIVATION and DRIVE.

Motivation is fleeting, it requires that little YouTube clip or podcast for you to “feel in the mood”

Whereas DRIVE is a deep desire to get better and BE better – this only comes with a  big enough WHY.

If you’ve been following me long enough you’ll know that I really push this idea of respecting your own time and bettering yourself so you can be MORE for the people around you – making it bigger than yourself so you have the fire to GO even when you’re not “in the mood”.

So if you’re just bouncing from one motivation spurt to the next then you need to step back and ask yourself WHY?

-Better self confidence in your own skin?

-Better connection with your partner, better SEX?

-Not feel like your body is holding you back from the life you want to live?

Whatever that is, you need to find that for yourself.

But once you have, the only thing left is to find a game plan that you are confident will move you forward and someone in your corner to hold you to that goal.

Camp 2 – Training more than 5 times a week or 2hrs a workout

So, if you’re training more than 5hrs a week and you’re not a professional athlete who has hours to recover for more, how do you maximise time in the gym so you are moving forward with your training again?

3 Things:

-Train for your structure

-Quality of work (ties into step one)

-Recovery ability

If you’re confused by what I mean about training for your structure then I highly suggest you go back or start the 7 Day Challenge because we dive DEEP into this on day one.

Essentially we all have different limb lengths, sternum angles and hip orientation so this will and SHOULD dictate the way we train. If you don’t you will bang up joints and STRUGGLE to see progress.

This ties into step two because once you know how you should train for your body, you start to get a better idea of what QUALITY really looks and feels like.

We all know that guy (or have been that guy) that squeezed out an extra rep or two on the bench only to clearly see he took over with every other muscle to complete the rep – meaning ZERO benefit to his training, only his/your ego.

The last BIG point I want to focus on here is RECOVERY.

We briefly touched on this yesterday but I want to dive deeper into some actionable steps you can take to start progressing again.

Recovery can mean a lot of things but if there’s one thing you take away from this, let if be: Master BODY AWARENESS.

Listen to your body, so you know when to push and when to hold back. Your training will be more productive, you will progress faster, you’re energy and motivation to train will improve and you will be healthier and fitter for much, much longer… just to name a few.

*side note: this is why I stopped training a lot of guys in their 20s because they didn’t care about their 60yr old self as long as they got the quick fix now…

If you struggle with this, Heart rate variability (HRV)  assessments are an awesome addition to give you a better idea of when to push and when to hold back.

There are so many avenues I could go down here now, but one big focus I want to finish on is cut the stimulants for ONE week and see where you energy is crap.

A simplified yet effective screening:

  1. Wake up with little energy? – look at improving sleep quality’
  2. Slump an hour after breakfast? – add more fats and remove sugar from breakfast
  3. Slump in afternoon? What are you eating for lunch? – Intolerances or fructose is most likely to cause this in my opinion.

With these steps alone you can hack your recover and upgrade your WHOLE quality of life. Which will, in turn improve your training and recovery.

I have 100% certainty that these steps will improve the way you look and feel. Ultimately to progress towards a leaner, more muscular body that helps you live life to its fullest.

One last thing I will leave you with if you were looking for a more SEXY answer to maximizing your time in the gym is how you structure your workouts to make the most of your time.

You probably think these steps seem quite basic after reading them. And they ARE, yet very few people know the importance they really have. The reality is these steps are some of the most important in you being able to SEE the bigger picture and progress beyond the simple external image. 

Because without these, the deeper levels we dive into aren’t even on your radar. Even if/when you are happy with how you look on the outside, you’ll still feel terrible on the inside.

Today I want to dive into how to make the most of your time in the gym, regardless of whether this is 20mins or 1 hour.

This topic can get complicated quick and with the combination of my interest in this subject and the intricacies of program design, I thought this one might be best said through video.

Click here to learn about maximizing your time in the gym.

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4 thoughts on “”

    • I think it is always important to have a full days rest. You don’t progress in the gym, you progress when you give your time to recover, reduce inflammation and rid the body of accumulated toxins and byproduct from training. This will allow you to push harder next time because you’ve given your body time to recoup. Hope that helps! 🙂

  1. I have recently been training six days a week for the past 8 weeks, perhaps more.

    Three days with weights; Monday- Strength (the old 5 x 5 x 5) . Wednesday- Maintenance (smaller muscle groups) and Friday- Power.
    Three days weights free; Tuesday Box-fit (30 mins) Thursday Rowing (30 mins) Saturday HIITs (Tabata – 28 mins)

    Rest Sunday

    Your thoughts?

    • Hey David, as always it is always about the QUALITY of the movement over the QUANTITY. I generally think the strength start of the week and more metabolic work can be a great way to approach this provided the recovery is good enough to handle that much. It is certainly “enough”, but if you feel you’re not progressing it would be worth looking how how much recruitment of the muscles you’re actually getting, the sequence of exercises, and your nutrition around training to start with. Hope that helps. Olly

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