You need to work out four times a week to see a change, says Pete Egoscue, co-founder of Elev8d Fitness, a new home workout program developed by the experts of Sonima. Those are polarizing words—a gym addict will contend that more is better, a couch potato will argue one day is better than none. But the truth is, if your routine is efficiently and smartly designed, working out four days a week is actually the sweet spot to transform your body without risking burnout or overburdening your schedule.
What’s So Special About Four Days a Week?
“The only way the human body changes is by responding to stimulus,” says Egoscue. “If you want to change your outcome, you have to overcome the baseline stimulus you’re getting every day—physically, emotionally, psychologically, nutritionally.”
Most humans operate on a seven day cycle, so you have to topple the balance in favor of what’s new. “If you do something different [walking for 20 minutes, for example] three of the seven days, that’s great—but all you’re doing is maintaining the state your body is in. You’re not hurting yourself, you’re not wasting time, but you’re not stimulating yourself regularly enough to change the basis of your metabolic rate,” Egoscue explains.
Bump that up to four days a week, and you’re now moving more days than you’re not moving, toppling the new stimulus in favor of change.
Do the Workouts Need to Be Long or High-Intensity?
The pushback, of course, is how is that 8 minutes a day going to overcome the other 23 hours and 52 minutes? Especially when it’s low-intensity interval training and not a routine that is going to set your lungs on fire.
“Elev8d Fitness isn’t high intensity, but it is high efficiency. It will definitely make your body burn. Just do Finish Line Abs for 30 seconds and tell me you aren’t surprised by how good of a workout you’re getting,” says Brian Bradley, Fitness Director of Elev8d Fitness.
What’s more, intensity isn’t always necessary to yield change. Take walking, for example. People who adopt up a regular program of the notoriously low-impact, low-effort, low sweat-inducing activity still lose body fat and body weight (not to mention gain a whole slew of health benefits like lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression symptoms), according to a 2015 meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Faster isn’t always better; harder isn’t always better.
The Greatest Key Is Consistency
And here’s why: “The other principle of the body is that it is very efficient. It adjusts and adapts to the environment we create for it, and does so better and better the more we put it in that environment,” Egoscue says.
Think about it: If you’re a runner who runs the same route every day, and then one day, veers and chooses a different path, the nature of that run will be totally different. It may have the exact same incline and mileage as your normal route, but chances are you’ll find it more challenging, more stimulating, and maybe like you aren’t as fit as you thought. “In reality, your body has just adapted to the original route, because it adapts to what’s repetitive and any change from the norm becomes startling,” Egoscue says.
Your muscles and joints are the same way: If you teach them how to move over something, under something, how to hinge at the hip and be driven from the hip with every movement, it’ll hold onto that training. And those multi-directional movements are at the core of Elev8d Fitness.
Then, two things start to happen. The first: “Doing Elev8d Fitness four days a week is enough to create a new movement pattern that carries over into the 15 hours and 52 minutes left in the day (that’s minus sleep, although a lot of people say they sleep better, too),” Bradley says.
In other words, your body remembers the placement of the shoulders and how activating your glutes gave you more power from the hips and protected your low back. All of this adds up and your hips stay positioned perfectly over your feet so with every stride throughout the day, your body is gliding in a way that activates the major stabilizing muscles, increasing your calorie burn, boosting your metabolism, and improving your physiological alignment. “It puts the body into a better position to allow for a 24/7 burn, rather than going hard for just 45 minutes every day and then walking out of the gym with the same dysfunctional body,” Bradley adds.
The second thing that happens is that your muscles and joints adapt to the repetitive stimulus of intentional, functional movement so that moving isn’t as much of a chore. “The ‘might-as-wells’ kick in,” Egoscue says. Instead of circling and looking for the closest parking spot, your body feels like a well-oiled machine so you don’t think twice about parking across the street and walking over. “These subtle changes add up to more calories burned and, most importantly, more movement throughout the day,” Egoscue says.
He adds, “The real secret of Elev8d Fitness is that it changes your emotions and your psychological outlook about yourself and your capabilities. We only believe what we feel and because Elev8d Fitness helps your body feel better, that helps your mind feel better, your emotions are higher, and it’s these little, subtle things that add up to real change in your life.”