My initial answer to this question is I’d be happy if you get up off your butt and exercise, so even if it is only one day a week, you are getting benefit. In fact, there are a few folks who only join me once a week for a church bootcamp and then they exercise…well…I’m told that’s all they do in the week. Although I do not recommend you finish an intense Functional Fitness workout merely once a week, I am seeing anecdotal evidence of benefits. Usually the first week causes some soreness and I had assumed you would need to do more than one a week to see an improvement in that area. I figured they would be sore everyweek because they weren’t do enough to make gains, but it appears that is not the case.
These folks’ anaerobic capacity is even increasing, meaning they are able to recover after each round and continue through the circuits with greater ease. All this with only 1 workout a week!
With that said, I want to make it clear I do not suggest you work out once a week and call it good. Fitness is part of your lifestyle and should be woven into various parts of the fabric of your life. Take the stairs, pay attention to your posture, get up and play outside with your kids instead of watching the third football game for the weekend, park far and walk, etc.
I do not cover nutrition often in this site, as I’m less experienced in sharing with others in that area, but obviously diet and exercise seem to go together. If you haven’t been preached at by a physician about diet and exercise yet in your life, you must not go to a doctor ever.
As for me, I often write and talk about working out 4 days a week. I don’t totally stress about making all 4 days, but I rarely do more than 4 intense Functional Fitness workouts in a week. I don’t stress because life is about balance and the mental game is hard to fight, so look at the long haul people!
I do walk, play, and bike with the family, but as far as planned workouts, I leave it at 4. Most of our 12 week fitness programs at Kemme Fitness call for 4 days a week. Research indicates you shouldn’t do more than 3 days in a row, as the 4th day will most likely not get you as much benefit, but it won’t kill you either.
If you need to lose weight, you can bump it up to 5 days a week if needed. Better than that, I would suggest keeping the 4 days and throw in running, biking, or other cardio-based activities whenever you want. You won’t get all the benefits of Functional Fitness with those, but your body can take that type of activity daily without burning you out. So if you are on a weight loss journey, do 4 or 5 of our workouts (or similar Functional Fitness workouts) a week with additional cardio. And of course, don’t forget the dieting part – duh!
Runners: Ok, here we go. I write about runners and Functional Fitness in my ebook, Functional Fitness Defined. Essentially, I argue runners will gain benefits from having a Functional Fitness cross training program. Of course, runners and ultra runners need to get in their miles, but adding in 1 to 3 Functional Fitness workouts a week will not only give them a better balanced body and better quality of life, but it will most likely even improve their running! Yeah, you read that right!
So there you go. To recap I have some nice little formulas:
Want to stay in awesome shape = 4 workouts a week
Need to lose weight = 4 – 5 workouts a week with extra cardio
Addicted to running = 1 – 3 workouts a week with your running