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Working Out 4 Days a Week: Benefits and Workout Schedule
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Working Out 4 Days a Week: Benefits and Workout Schedule

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 22, 2022
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9 min

Training 4 days a week hits the sweet spot between working out and recovering, engagement, and relaxation. But what benefits does it actually bring?

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You don’t have to do strength training every day for muscle growth. The same applies to serious cardio workouts. Every day doesn’t have to be a workout day.

Training 4 times a week can help you reach your fitness goals. Whether these include muscle growth, weight loss, improvements in muscle strength and endurance, or a mix of these.

And at the same time, with a good workout routine, you can boost your overall health and ward off disease.

But before we get to workouts, let’s start with the basics.

Is It Enough to Work Out 4 Days a Week?

Working out 4 times a week is enough to build strength and reap the health benefits of regular exercise. It enables you to lose body fat and gain muscle through strength training. At the same time, it allows for enough rest days.

For the best health benefits, combine weight training with cardio exercises. Aim for a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

You can incorporate high-intensity interval training to work out both your upper and lower body. Strength training will help you increase lean muscle mass and burn fat.

A balanced workout routine enables you to lose weight and promotes muscle hypertrophy. At the same time, it’s less likely to feel like a daily struggle compared to training every day.

You can see results from training 4 days a week within a few weeks. You can follow this workout structure at home or at the gym. Or combine the two.

Later in this post, we’ll be sharing training plans for 4 days a week that can help you reach your fitness goals. But first, let’s zoom in on the benefits of this training pace.

What Are the Benefits of Working Out 4 Days a Week?

The advantages of working out 4 times a week boil down to a lower risk of heart disease, improved health, and weight loss.

Training this much a week helps you build muscle mass and improve your fitness level without the risk of injury. It also makes physical recovery a smooth process.

#1 Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

As we age, our arteries stiffen, increasing the risk of heart disease. A 2018 study found that exercising 4–5 days a week helps keep the large and middle-sized arteries.

By comparison, exercising only 2–3 days a week doesn’t have the same effect on the large central arteries. These arteries supply the chest and abdomen with blood. They play a key role in cardiovascular health.

#2 Improves your overall health

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans report recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity plus 2 days of muscle-strengthening workouts.

This can reduce mortality from all causes. It also helps reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis. It supports brain health, too, helping prevent depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s.

#3 Helps you build muscle mass

Working out 4 times a week is enough to build muscle. If muscle hypertrophy is your main goal, 4 days a week is a good strength and resistance training frequency.

A 2018 review of 25 studies found that training a muscle weekly is enough to achieve muscle gain. Training 4 times a week gives you enough workouts to train all your major muscles by rotation. 

#4 Helps you lose weight

With a regular workout plan, you can burn fat at a healthy pace. Exercising 4 times a week allows you to fit in plenty of exercises that burn calories. What’s more, you can replace body fat with lean muscle mass.

Moderate-intensity physical activity can help you burn around 200 calories a day. That said, exercising alone cannot help you shed weight sustainably.

You need to pair a balanced workout routine with a low-calorie diet. Put simply, you need to burn more calories than you eat.

If you are committed to dropping weight, a 4-days-a-week training plan can help you reach your target weight. It provides enough activity to support fat loss without being overly demanding. Which takes us to the next benefit.

#5 Can help prevent injuries

When you first start working out, whether it’s strength training, resistance training, cardio routines, or a mix of these, it’s easy to overdo it. Training every day can feel great, especially when you’re all pumped up with enthusiasm.

But a week or two later, you run a high risk of overuse injuries. Everything from runner’s knee and muscle strains and sprains to more serious injuries, like stress fractures.

A rest day is great after a good workout. It lets your body recover and get ready for the next workout.

Training 4 times a week makes it easy to build rest days into your training plan. It encourages a healthy workout structure that promotes massive gains without the risk of injury.

4-Day Gym/Strength Workout Schedule

When you do weight training, you don’t want to limit yourself to working out the same muscle groups on repeat. Consistency is key, true.

But for a strong and beautiful body, train all your major muscle groups. That includes the upper body and the lower body.

This strength training schedule focuses on building muscle. On most days, it provides an intense workout that combines pushing movements with pulling movements for optimal results.

If you want more lean muscle, it’s the way to go. Note that the workout time can vary from day to day.

Day 1 – Monday: Biceps and back

*sets

**repetitions

Day 2 – Tuesday: Triceps and chest

Day 3 – Wednesday: Recovery/rest

Swim, walk, jog, or cycle at an easy pace, do gentle yoga, or rest.

Day 4 – Thursday: Legs

Day 5 – Friday: Recovery/rest

Walk, jog, swim, or cycle at a light intensity, do gentle yoga, or rest.

Day 6 – Saturday: Shoulders, traps, and forearms

Day 7 – Sunday: Rest

This is your rest day. Take a walk or ride your bike if you want. But do it just for fun. Or you can simply stay at home with a good book or your favorite Netflix show. After a week of training, you more than deserve it.

Tip: Cycling burns more calories than walking. Something to keep in mind if your main fitness goal is shedding pounds.

4-Day Home/Cardio Workout Schedule

Don’t feel like going to the gym? Or just don’t want to depend on gym equipment? That’s alright. You can work out 4 times a week without going to the gym. Stepping out of your house can make some workouts more fun, but you can also do them all at home.

Here’s a cardio workout routine that will help you lose weight. The key here is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Studies show that HIIT can burn calories and speed up weight loss.

Day 1 – Monday: Full-body HIIT

Full-body HIIT – 30 minutes

Day 2 – Tuesday: Long jog or brisk walk

Jogging or brisk walking for 45 minutes (moderate intensity) 

Day 3 – Wednesday: Recovery/rest

Go for a gentle walk, bike ride, or swim. Or simply rest.

Day 4 – Thursday: Treadmill workout/outdoor run

Treadmill workout or outdoor run (high intensity) – 30–40 minutes

  1. Set the treadmill to flat.
  2. Warm up with a 5-minute walk at 2 miles per hour (mph).
  3. Run at 10mph for 30 seconds.
  4. Walk at 3mph for 60 seconds.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Cool down with a 5-minute walk at 2mph.

If you don’t have access to a treadmill, you can follow the same workout structure outdoors. Find out more about the differences between treadmill and outside running.

Day 5 – Friday: Cardio intervals

Cardio intervals (moderate intensity) – 30 minutes

  1. Warm up with a 5-minute easy jog.
  2. Sprint for 30 seconds.
  3. Recover with a 1-minute run at an easy pace.
  4. Repeat the sprint and recovery run cycle for 20 minutes.
  5. Cool down with a 5-minute easy jog.

Tip: New to interval running? Check out this complete guide for beginners.

Day 6 – Saturday: Bike ride

Bike ride (moderate intensity) – 40 minutes

Tip: Cycling apps can be the perfect cycling companion for you. The app provides a personalized cycling plan adapted to your weight loss goal and fitness level.

Day 7 – Sunday: Rest day

What Should I Do on Free Days?

Training 4 days a week doesn’t mean you can’t engage in physical activity on the 3 remaining days. The key term here is active recovery.

Active recovery means continuing to engage the muscles you worked during exercise at a lower intensity. Benefits include:

  • Eliminates toxins created in the body during exercise
  • Reduces the buildup of lactic acid
  • Soothes muscle soreness
  • Increases blood flow
  • Keeps muscles flexible

You can do active recovery immediately after a workout. But you can also do it 1–2 days after a strenuous workout.

So, what are some of the best active rest activities for the free days in between your workouts?

Go for a brisk walk or jog

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Go for a swim

Swimming is a great cardio exercise that doesn’t put any pressure on your bones and joints. A full-body workout, swimming can tone your muscles and boost your cardiovascular health.

It also improves coordination, flexibility, posture, and balance and can ward off disease. While you’re at the swimming pool, you can also try aqua jogging. It’s as fun as it sounds.

Cycle at an easy pace

Cycling also promotes weight loss. It can help you lose extra calories on your rest day without the risk of overtraining.

But make sure you go easy. Cycle to recover without pushing yourself too hard. You can cycle indoors on a stationary bike or outside. Both are healthy, but exercising outdoors is better for mental health.

Do some yoga

Gentle yoga is another effective way to recover after resistance training or a strength training session. A 2015 study found that a 12-week Hatha yoga program can improve cardiovascular health as well as muscular strength and endurance.

Yoga stretches your muscles and improves your flexibility. It also provides stress relief and helps you relax. It’s the perfect activity after a week of intense training.

A Word From Our Coach

Studies indicate that your muscles need at least 48 hours to recover after strenuous exercise. This, together with the higher risk of injury that comes with training daily, makes working out 4 times a week safe and effective.

Want significant muscle gain? Make strength training the focus of your workouts to build muscle.

The key to making 4-day workouts count is training all your muscle groups. Not just your upper body. And not just your lower body, either. Your whole body, from your calves to the trapezius muscle that reaches your nape.

Don’t just work the same muscle groups on every workout. Choose exercises that activate a different muscle at a time. Like those in the strength training workouts we shared with you.

With that in mind, it’s not just how much you train but what exercises you do. To lose fat, combine strength training with cardio workouts. And don’t forget about diet.

Without a healthy, balanced diet, muscle building and losing weight won’t go smoothly. No matter how much effort you put into your workouts.

Throughout your training, listen to your body. Muscle soreness is normal. But if you experience discomfort in joints, bones, or other muscles than those you engage, you may have to take it easier.

Cut back on recovery activities and give your body some extra rest days. Your aim is to make training 4 days a week a healthy habit, not to exhaust yourself or injure a muscle group.

Takeaways

Ready to start training 4 days a week? Before you change into your fitness gear and start warming up, here are the key things to remember.

  • Working out 4 times a week brings muscle gains and the health benefits of regular exercise.
  • It can also give you a serious sweat and a good calorie burn.
  • It’s a great training schedule for full-body workouts and HIIT workouts. But you can also focus on a specific muscle group.
  • You can train this often at any fitness level, from beginner to pro.
  • Working out 4 days a week promotes weight loss.
  • Progressively increase the difficulty of your weekly workouts by adding more weight or sets to keep seeing gains.

In the end, whether you choose to lift weights or do HIRT workouts, remember that each rest day matters. Push yourself hard enough to see results, but give your body enough time to recover. Most of all, enjoy it. It’s the hard kind of fun!

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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