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Fit 4 Life | You don’t even need to train five days a week

Published:Monday | October 28, 2019 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
Cardio should be done at least twice a week.

'Fit in 5'. That is the theme for Season 3 of The Gleaner's Fit 4 Life programme. Why Fit in 5? It's about simplicity and ease. The misconception that getting and staying fit is a herculean task still exists in the minds of too many people.

To challenge this idea of difficulty and complication, we chose the number '5'.

Five seems to be in that sweet-spot of simplicity; easy to remember, it also brings an idea of 'that's easy' to mind. 'Just five exercises per workout? Anyone can do that!'

Yet there remains one area where the number five might not be ideal for most people: the number of training days per week. Beginners have the idea that to get fit one must train every day. The truth, however, is much simpler. As a beginner, you don't need to train more than three times per week. If you are a beginner – or even intermediate – your body is unlikely to be able to handle much more.

Training puts stress on the mind and body. This is in addition to the stresses of everyday life, such as work, school, or raising children. This added stress needs to be balanced carefully with rest and recovery to get the best results for your efforts.


Allowing the balance to swing too far in either direction can be dangerous for your health. Not enough training, and you run the risk of deconditioning, obesity and lifestyle diseases. But too much training also puts you at risk; leaving you fatigued and open to obesity, injuries and overtraining-related conditions.

Now, this balance might seem to conflict with our magic number of five, but, in truth, it isn't. Our ‘Fit in 5’ workouts are short, five-move routines which can be completed in 10 minutes or less. As such, workouts can be paired and completed in under half-an-hour, allowing busy persons to maintain a 3:4 work-day to rest-day ratio.

How you structure your work and rest days is up to you: If you have those extra busy days, you can use those as rest days and train on the lighter days, whereas if your days are all very similar, you can choose to alternate your work and rest days.

When it comes to paring exercises, though, consideration must be given to the muscles worked by these routines.

A few quick tips:

• Cardio should be done at least twice a week.

• Strength training routines can be done once a week.

• Choose pairings that allow you to train muscles that often work together in one session. This will give them adequate time to recover before they are worked again.

• Back and core muscles often work together and can be paired.

• Legs and core can also be paired.

• Avoid chest and back pairings where possible.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;