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How Many Times A Week Should You Workout To Lose Weight In 2024


Reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN
how many times a week should you workout to lose weight
Consistency matters when it comes to exercise. Photo: oscargutzo/Shutterstock

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Starting a weight loss journey requires answering some important questions, such as – how often you should exercise and what supplements you should take.

These questions are crucial in creating a workout routine that works for you and meets your fitness goals and cardio needs. The frequency, intensity, and duration of your workouts are essential components of strength training exercises to address for achieving the best results in your weight loss journey.

If you’re wondering how many times a week you should work out to lose weight, you’re not alone.

Read on to explore this question in detail, understand its scientific reasoning, and help you develop a workout schedule that works best for you.

How Often Should You Workout?

The key is to find a balance that suits your fitness level, objectives, and overall schedule to determine how often you workout.

Losing weight requires a combination of a nutritious diet and engaging in regular physical activity. Current research suggests approximately 30-60 minutes of moderately intense exercise a day combined with a caloric deficit can aid in weight loss.

Remember, dedication and consistency are crucial for achieving success.

How Many Times A Week Should You Work Out To Lose Weight

how many times a week should you workout to lose weight
Aerobic exercise can be a great tool for weight loss. Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Several studies show that exercise improves body composition[1] by reducing fat mass and increasing muscle hypertrophy.

So, just how often should you work out?

When it comes to the frequency and duration of your workouts, there are several factors to consider, such as your current fitness level, weight loss goals, and overall health.

The straightforward answer is that you need to burn more calories than you consume in a manner where you avoid injury or overtraining.

For Beginners

Starting a new workout routine can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember that progress takes time. If you’re new to working out, it can be normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. The key is to start out gradually and choose a frequency that feels manageable and comfortable for you.

This will help you stay motivated and avoid feeling guilty if you need to adjust your routine.

An important thing to keep in mind is that a well-rounded workout routine should include a mix of cardio workouts and strength training. Cardiovascular exercises include activities such as running, cycling, rowing, or swimming and help burn calories.

On the other hand, strength training helps build lean muscle mass, which can increase your metabolism. With a consistent exercise routine, you may not need a fat burner in your workout routine.

The Role Of Nutrition

Recent research suggests that reducing caloric intake[2] is the most important factor for weight loss. The study also indicates that it is beneficial to spread out caloric intake throughout the day, with a greater proportion of calories being consumed in the morning.

Additionally, maintaining a consistent period of fasting overnight can also contribute to weight loss and prevent obesity.[2]

If you are unsure how to start or modify your diet, gradually reduce your intake of non-essential calories. This means cutting things out[3] like highly processed foods, sugary treats, and foods high in saturated fats.

You can try various diet strategies; don’t stress yourself out too much because the research also suggests there isn’t a single best strategy.[2]

If you’re looking for some ideas on how to lose weight, consider asking your physician or a registered dietitian more about the following strategies:

  • Low-calorie diet[4] (1200-1500 for females and 1500-1800 for males).
  • Meal replacements (protein shakes, for example) can be useful for limiting caloric intake.
  • Diet pills.
  • Low-fat diet (<20%-30%of daily calories)[5].
  • Low-carbohydrate diet.(10%-25% of calories from carbs).
  • Ketogenic diet ( 5%-10% of your daily calories from carbohydrates).
  • Mediterranean diet (example of a low-carb diet; high consumption of fish, poultry, dairy, fruits, and vegetables).
  • Intermittent fasting (i.e., fasting during specific time periods/ or consuming < 500 calories for two non-consecutive days each week).

What Is A Healthy Amount Of Weight Loss? 

You might wonder how much weight you can lose in a week while staying healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,[6] a safe and healthy rate of weight loss is about 1 to 2 pounds per week, and individuals who gradually lose weight are more likely to keep the weight off in the long term.

A slow and steady approach will help you develop healthy, long-lasting lifestyle patterns down the road.

Why Working Out Is Important For Losing Weight?

how many times a week should you workout to lose weight
Physical activity has numerous benefits for weight loss. Photo: Adamov_d/Shutterstock

Regular physical activity has numerous benefits for general health and weight loss. For example, working out is important for the following reasons.

Boosting Your Metabolism

When it comes to finding workouts to maintain weight loss, having a good understanding of your metabolism and having a healthy diet can be extremely beneficial. A well-functioning metabolism can help you burn fat and maintain lean muscle mass, both essential for achieving your weight loss goals. Increasing workout intensity can have a greater effect[7] on metabolism and cardiorespiratory fitness than lower-intensity exercises.

What Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the complex set of chemical reactions that occur with your body to maintain essential everyday functions.

Your basal metabolic rate[8] represents the number of calories your body needs to perform basic functions at rest, such as breathing and circulating blood. Understanding and enhancing these metabolic processes can be pivotal for a healthy body weight.

Physical Activity And Metabolism

Research shows that regular physical activity is a potent catalyst for a high-functioning metabolism. Cardiovascular exercises and strength training sessions increase caloric burn during exercise and even after workouts. Vigorous aerobic activity will burn more calories than strength training, however. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,[9] adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week and at least two days each week of muscle-strengthening activity.

Cardiovascular exercises burn more calories during vigorous aerobic activity, while strength training builds lean muscle mass in the major muscle groups, further elevating your BMR. Engaging in a strength training exercise where you lift weights increases muscle gains faster than cardio exercise.

Preserving Lean Muscle Mass

A crucial aspect of effective weight loss is preserving lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest than fat tissue does.

Therefore, the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. In a study[10] published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that a higher protein intake during intense exercise preserved lean muscle mass and promoted fat loss.

How Often Should You Work Out For Muscle Gain?

Building muscle involves more than just lifting weights. It requires understanding the balance between exercise science, recovery, and maintaining a healthy diet.

The Basics Of Muscle Gain

Muscle growth, scientifically known as hypertrophy, occurs when your muscle fibers undergo stress or resistance, leading them to adapt and grow in size.

The process of hypertrophy occurs when muscle protein synthesis[11] exceeds muscle protein breakdown and results in a positive net protein balance in a cumulative period.

Training Frequency And Duration

One question that often comes up is how long should you work out a day and how much weight should be lifted while working out.

Recent evidence[11] suggests that building lean muscle mass occurs optimally when most training sets are performed with approximately three to four repetitions remaining. However, most beginners may want to start training two to three times a week for forty minutes per session until fitness improves and then increase frequency.

While the conventional belief was that intense and heavy lifting was necessary for muscle gain, studies have recently shown that low-load training[12] can be just as equally effective as moderate and high loads. 

This is great news, especially if you’re a beginner looking to start a new workout regimen. You can start slow and with light resistance, gradually increasing the intensity and weight as you ease into your fitness routine.

Find a repetition range that feels comfortable to you. Whether you prefer the classical three sets of 8-12 repetitions or you want to aim for sets of 20-25, just make sure that you choose an appropriate weight so that you fatigue near the end of your set.

Rest And Recovery

Muscles don’t grow during exercise; they grow during your body’s recovery phase. Although resistance training is crucial for muscle development, adequate rest is just as important.

Overtraining, which can result from working out too frequently without sufficient rest, can hinder growth and increase the risk of injury.

The International Journal of Exercise Science recommends at least 48-72 hours[13] of recovery for specific muscle groups between sessions.

Is It Good To Workout Every Day?

Regular and consistent exercise can offer many benefits to a person’s health,[14] but its effectiveness can depend on various factors such as fitness type, exercise type, and body recovery. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:


  • Avoid overtraining: Rest and recovery are just as important as the exercise itself.
  • Listen to your body: Pay close attention to signs of soreness and fatigue, or if you’re feeling extremely tired, your body may need a short break.
  • Be mindful of intensity: Not every workout has to be high-intensity. Mix in low and moderate intensity into your routine, especially if you’re planning to workout every day.
  • Hydration: As you increase your exercise frequency, make sure you stay adequately hydrated throughout the day.  

Sample Weekly Workout Routine For Weight Loss

If you want to put theory into practice and are looking for exercises for weight loss, here’s a sample weekly exercise routine designed to incorporate a mixture of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.

  • Monday: Cardiovascular exercise (30-45 minutes of your favorite aerobic activity).
  • Tuesday: Strength Training (30-45 minutes of weight lifting, bodyweight exercises).
  • Wednesday: Active rest (brisk walking for 45-60 minutes).
  • Thursday: Cardiovascular exercise (cycling, swimming, running).
  • Friday: Strength Training (45 minutes of general body weightlifting).
  • Saturday: High-intensity interval Training (30 minutes of circuit training with moderately intense cardio).
  • Sunday: Rest day.


If you’re looking to lose weight and are curious as to how many days you should exercise, the answer is that it depends on several factors. Research has shown that exercise can help reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass, leading to a better body composition.

The best path to healthy weight loss includes a combination of cardio and strength training for maximum benefit. The optimal recommendations are 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week and at least 2 days each week of muscle-strengthening activity.

In addition to exercise, nutrition also plays a pivotal role. By reducing your caloric intake and aiming for a weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week, you can be confident in your approach going forward. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much exercise should a beginner do per day?

Beginners should focus on setting small goals and creating an exercise routine of about 2-3 days a week for 40 minutes each session that gradually progresses with intensity and duration over time.

Is exercising 3 times a week enough to lose weight?

It depends on your energy balance. Every individual is different. Weight loss occurs when there is a caloric deficit, which means you have to burn more calories than you consume.

Should I do cardio or weights first?

This comes down to personal preference. Recent studies have shown that improvement in lean muscle mass[15] and aerobic fitness levels increase regardless of moderate aerobic activity.

What burns the most stomach fat?

The best way to lose stubborn stomach fat involves a combination of various factors, including a healthy diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Studies have shown that exercise training[16] can help in the redistribution of body fat.

+ 16 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Kristoffer Jensen Kolnes, Petersen, M., Teodor Lien-Iversen, Højlund, K. and Jensen, J. (2021). Effect of Exercise Training on Fat Loss—Energetic Perspectives and the Role of Improved Adipose Tissue Function and Body Fat Distribution. Frontiers in Physiology, [online] 12. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.737709.
  2. Ju Young Kim (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome, [online] 30(1), pp.20–31. doi:https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20065.
  3. Chrysi Koliaki, Spinos, T., Μarianna Spinou, Μaria-Eugenia Brinia, Dimitra Mitsopoulou and Katsilambros, N. (2018). Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults. Healthcare, [online] 6(3), pp.73–73. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare6030073.
  4. Soard.org. (2022). Home Page: Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. [online] Available at: https://www.soard.org/.
  5. Nutritioncaremanual.org. (2023). – Nutrition Care Manual. [online] Available at: https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org/.
  6. CDC (2023). Losing Weight . [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html.
  7. Calcaterra, V., Bernardelli, G., Malacarne, M., Matteo Vandoni, Mannarino, S., Vittoria Carnevale Pellino, Larizza, C., Pagani, M., Gian Vincenzo Zuccotti and Lucini, D. (2023). Effects of Endurance Exercise Intensities on Autonomic and Metabolic Controls in Children with Obesity: A Feasibility Study Employing Online Exercise Training. Nutrients, [online] 15(4), pp.1054–1054. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15041054.
  8. Pettersen, A.K., Marshall, D.J. and White, C.R. (2018). Understanding variation in metabolic rate. The Journal of Experimental Biology, [online] 221(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.166876.
  9. Health.gov. (2023). Error 504 Gateway Timeout | health.gov. [online] Available at: https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines/top-10-things-know.
  10. Longland, T.M., Oikawa, S.Y., Mitchell, C.J., Devries, M.C. and Phillips, S.M. (2016). Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 103(3), pp.738–746. doi:https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.119339.
  11. Michał Krzysztofik, Wilk, M., Grzegorz Wojdała and Artur Gołaś (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 16(24), pp.4897–4897. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897.
  12. Schöenfeld, B.J., Peterson, M.D., Ogborn, D., Contreras, B. and Gül Tiryaki Sönmez (2015). Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [online] 29(10), pp.2954–2963. doi:https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000000958.
  13. Monteiro, E.R., Vingren, J.L., Corrêa Neto, V.G., Neves, E.B., Steele, J. and Novaes, J.S. (2019). Effects of Different Between Test Rest Intervals in Reproducibility of the 10-Repetition Maximum Load Test: A Pilot Study with Recreationally Resistance Trained Men. International journal of exercise science, [online] 12(4), pp.932–940. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719818/.
  14. Ruegsegger, G.N. and Booth, F.W. (2017). Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, [online] 8(7), pp.a029694–a029694. doi:https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a029694.
  15. Matthew J-C Lee, Ballantyne, J.K., Chagolla, J., Hopkins, W.G., Fyfe, J.J., Phillips, S.M., Bishop, D. and Bartlett, J.D. (2020). Order of same-day concurrent training influences some indices of power development, but not strength, lean mass, or aerobic fitness in healthy, moderately-active men after 9 weeks of training. PLOS ONE, [online] 15(5), pp.e0233134–e0233134. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233134.
  16. Kristoffer Jensen Kolnes, Petersen, M., Teodor Lien-Iversen, Højlund, K. and Jensen, J. (2021). Effect of Exercise Training on Fat Loss—Energetic Perspectives and the Role of Improved Adipose Tissue Function and Body Fat Distribution. Frontiers in Physiology, [online] 12. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.737709.


Martin Gonzalez is a board certified physical therapist and health writer specializing in chronic pain management, musculoskeletal conditions, and injury prevention. He has over five years of experience as a practicing physical therapist, writing health articles,… See More