What kind of time commitment is needed to see results? As always, the answer is – it depends! The goals that the person has will determine how often they have to workout. The good news is that for most people who want to improve their aesthetics, it’s not as much as you probably think.
I always suggest that people lift weights several times a week. While one strength training workout a week is better than nothing, it’s typically three full body workouts that seem to do the trick for most people. However, as a complete beginner, this could be twice a week, as the body is adjusting to the new workload. A third workout can be added in after a month or two of consistent training.
Although not the most optimal, intervals can be added to the end of these workouts so there’s some cardiovascular conditioning aspect to the training as well. The type of interval can change to work different energy systems. This cuts down on the frequency of workouts needed each week.
I always suggest incorporating a longer, slower paced cardio session in the week as well. It could be anything – a run, bike, swim, hike, rower, skiing, tennis… there are endless options! Find something that you ENJOY. If you hate the elliptical but love to run, always opt for the run. You’re more likely to continue doing something that you enjoy, not something that feels like a complete chore. This is not totally necessary but will improve your chances of losing weight and will do it quicker.
One thing that has to be remembered is that overall movement throughout the day is vital. I wrote in a recent article that non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is incredibly important to succeed. NEAT is the amount of movement throughout the day that is not specifically a workout, which burns a ton of calories. So no, doing a workout then sitting around like a bump on a log all day will not get you the results you want or will certainly slow them down dramatically. You should aim for 8000-10,000 steps over the course of the day. Sounds like a lot, but if you intentionally move more (park further away from the grocery store, walk to the coffee shop instead of driving, take the stairs etc) this is completely doable.
There are obviously some other important factors that go into a weight loss goal. Nutrition is about 80% of the battle. Not to mention sleep, stress management, hormones, metabolic damage, and hydration. But quality movement in a well thought out program is key to nailing your aesthetic goals.
Planning for a Monday, Wednesday, Friday session in the gym and a Saturday or Sunday for a longer steady state cardio session would be an excellent simple program. At its core it doesn’t have to be super complex.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t take a herculean effort to get in great shape and feel comfortable “shirts off” at the beach with sky high energy. There are 168 hours each week and this asks for three or four hours of your time; there really is no excuse for not working out. The only question is what are you willing to do to achieve your weight loss goal? If you want it badly enough, you will make the time!