How Many Days a Week Should I Lift?

how many days a week should I lift?

As most of you know, muscles take time to recover. Thus when it comes to how many days a week you should lift, more isn’t necessarily better. So what’s the optimal number of days you should lift to optimize strength?

 

How many days a week should I lift?

One meta analysis found that untrained participants (lifting for less than 1 year) gained additional strength when training each muscle group up to 3x a week. Trained participants (lifting for more than 1 year), however, achieved maximal strength gains by training each muscle group 2x a week. Another meta analysis found that college and professional athletes gained no additional strength from training each muscle group 3x a week (see below).

How many days a week should I lift chart

To clarify, these numbers are days training each muscle group, not total days training. One study found that doing 4 total body workouts produced similar results to doing 2 upper body and 2 lower body workouts (while controlling for volume and intensity). For that reason, it is typically recommended that beginners do 3 total body workouts versus splitting them over 6 days (it’s less demanding that way). For intermediates it’s recommended that training be split into 4 days in order to increase volume (2 days of upper body and 2 days of lower body, for example).  For the advanced, 4 to 6 days a week, or more, is recommended.

 

Conclusion:

If you’re a beginner, doing a total body workout 3 non-consecutive days a week is the best way to go, even though you will still make gains with less frequency. Intermediates and the advanced should aim to train each muscle group 2x a week. How you want to structure your workout in order to accomplish this depends on your personal preferences and goals.

 

Citations:

American College of Sports Medicine. “American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults.”Medicine and science in sports and exercise 41.3 (2009): 687.

Calder, Aaron W., et al. “Comparison of whole and split weight training routines in young women.” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology 19.2 (1994): 185-199.

Peterson, Mark D., Matthew R. Rhea, and Brent A. Alvar. “Applications of the dose-response for muscular strength development: a review of meta-analytic efficacy and reliability for designing training prescription.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 19.4 (2005): 950-958.

Peterson, Mark D., Matthew R. Rhea, and Brent A. Alvar. “Maximizing strength development in athletes: a meta-analysis to determine the dose-response relationship.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 18.2 (2004): 377-382.

Rhea, Matthew R., et al. “A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 35.3 (2003): 456-464.

 

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