Why Working Out Four Times a Week Is Enough
Elev8d Fitness calls for something simple: Work out more days than you don’t. Here’s why.
Despite what you’ve heard, fitness doesn’t need to be an all day, all out activity in order to be effective.
“The fitness world has convinced the public that fitness and health are only connected through maximum effort and discipline and it’s not true,” explains Pete Egoscue, father of modern postural therapy and Co-Founder of Elev8d Fitness.
Look no further than gym memberships that go through the roof in January only to plummet a few months later. “What people are being asked to do doesn’t feel good — and when they stop working out or going to gyms, they’re told they are lazy or have no discipline,” Egoscue says.
Take a five-mile run as an example. Running every single day because you’re afraid that if you don’t, you’re going to gain weight; versus running because you want to and you’re seeing positive results. These two scenarios lead to totally different metabolic outcomes, explains Egoscue. (The latter being far more effective.)
It might just be that the system is flawed. The Elev8d philosophy is that fitness is contingent on enjoyment, the person that shows up to the exercises. Working out shouldn’t be a slog, it should be fun, release tension—something to look forward to. Exercising just four times a week for eight or 16 minute sessions is easy to maintain yet effective enough to change your body. Working out in shorter bursts and more often will increase energy and improve body confidence.
Here’s why four is the magic number: Most of us work on a seven day cycle, explains Egoscue. Whether physically, emotionally, or nutritionally, we behave differently during the week than we do on the weekend. Our bodies are used to operating on a Monday to Sunday routine.
That means that if you want to make a change—say, you want to increase your fitness—you have two choices, says Egoscue: You can change your environment or you can change the stimulus coming to that environment. The former isn’t overly practical (you likely can’t easily change your job or your day-to-day schedule). So in order to make an effective change, our best strategy is to change the stimulus coming to our bodies.—in this case, how often you move.
If you decide to work out three days a week or less, you’re just barely maintaining a new habit, Egoscue says. “If you do it four days a week, though, that stimulus overcomes the stimulus coming from the environment,” he says. That difference, the threshold between three and four days, is enough to make all the difference. “You’re doing something more days than you’re not—and the body reacts to what it is presented.” In this case, it’s being presented with exercise.
Exercising four times a week for shorter amounts of time is a happy medium. It’s a challenge and a chance to feel both accomplishment and enjoyment by working out. This, he says, furthers an interest in both fitness and, ultimately, overall well-being.
As Egoscue puts it: “Health and fitness at its optimum is all about peace of mind.”