man putting bumper plate weight on barbell in weight lifting gym

Can I go to the gym only 3 days a week and still see results?

Probably yes! Getting results at the gym, or from any exercise, will depend on how fit you are before you start going regularly. Most people don’t do enough exercise. If you’re in this group, any increase in exercise will make a substantial difference to how you feel and look, and how healthy you are. 

Of course, getting results at the gym also depends on what you mean by results. If you want a first place finish at a competitive marathon, three times a week at the gym isn’t going to get you there. It probably won’t get you six-pack abs either. But three a week, exercising at at least moderate intensity, is often enough for general health.

To improve your health, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You could also do 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both. You’ll get the most benefit if this time is spread throughout the week. The AHA also recommend adding moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least two days per week.

How to do it

If you split these recommendations into three days, that would look like: 

  • 50 minutes of cardio per session, at a moderate intensity, or 25 minutes per session at a high intensity
  • Strength training during at least two of those three sessions, probably for at least 20 minutes

Of course, those make for long sessions. I’ve found that most people have a preference for either cardio work or strength training. It helps to factor that into your sessions, and then get creative in filling any gaps. My personal recommendation would be to use your gym time to focus on strength training, since most people aren’t set up to do resistance training at home. Combine your three sessions at the gym with a couple of non-gym “sessions”, which can be as simple as going for a walk, to reach the target numbers for health.

What do you think?

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