How many days a week should you work out
for optimal muscle gain? If you’ve always wondered about the best training frequency, how often to train, and how often to lift weights, then you’re not alone - most lifters have this confusion. But in this video, I cover the science behind how your lifting experience can affect how many times a week should you work out for maximum muscle growth. Before that, though, here's a question for you: does working out more frequently lead to more gains?
Well, research indicates that it's actually a yes and no kind of answer. But why? Because research indicates that the rate of muscle growth, regardless of how many days you choose to work out, will be similar if you can check off 3 requirements. First, you’re training each muscle group at least 2 times a week. Second, You’re doing enough volume within your workouts, and enough volume throughout the week. Last but not least, you’re performing each of your sets with enough effort and intensity to fully stimulate your muscle fibres.
So, when it comes to how often to train, does that mean the more often you train, the more gains you’d experience? Well, not necessarily. We know our workout volume requirements slowly begin to increase as we gain more experience. This means that over time, we have to do more sets per workout and throughout the week to continue growing our muscles at the optimal rate. Researcher James Krieger found that beginners shouldn’t utilize higher volumes right away. A beginner only needs to do around 2-3 sets per muscle per workout or around 6-10 sets per muscle per week for maximal growth. But as more experience is gained, those few sets no longer provide enough stimulus. And to maximize growth, an increase of either 8-10 sets per muscle per workout, or around 16-20 sets per muscle per week are now needed.
As a more experienced lifter, fitting 8-10 sets per muscle per workout or 16-20 sets per muscle per week into just 3 full-body workouts becomes a challenge. Your workouts will become a lot longer, not to mention often unenjoyable. And it may even compromise growth! Because during a workout, the ability of our muscles to exert force can be negatively affected by both muscle fatigue and CNS fatigue (the more problematic factor). When there’s a lot of CNS fatigue, we can actually reach failure in a set of an exercise before we achieve full motor unit recruitment of that muscle - compromising muscle growth. Therefore, if you’re an advanced lifter, when it comes to how many times a week should you work out, trying to shove in all your volume into 3 full-body workouts per week is likely not the best option.
Ultimately, as you gain more experience and your volume requirements increase, it would instead be a good idea to distribute that volume throughout the week by adding in additional training days. If you're a beginner, you will do fine with 3 full-body training days per week. But if you're more experienced, you'd want to add more training days into your routine. Consider doing an upper/lower split 4 days a week. Or push pull legs split 6 days a week, etc. This will help you spread out that increased volume most effectively.
Now keep in mind, though, guys that I’ve gone through what’s optimal to maximize growth. So if you can’t commit to higher frequencies as you gain more experience, then it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to build muscle. Because you will. Also, the difference we’re talking about is minimal. At the end of the day, workout volume and consistency is what’s most important. You shouldn't fixate on the answer to how many days a week should you work out. Ultimately, that’s going to be a lot more effective than trying to go 6 days per week but being inconsistent with it.
And for a step-by-step program designed to accommodate your schedule and show you exactly how to build muscle most effectively through the use of science, then take the analysis quiz below to discover what science-based program best suits you and your starting point: builtwithscience.com
James Krieger Resources:
Music by Ryan Little - fall so high. - thmatc.co/?l=F77E5E72
Filmed by: Bruno Martin Del Campo
TRAINING FREQUENCY AND MUSCLE GROWTH
CNS FATIGUE OVER TIME
DISTRIBUTION OF VOLUME IN ADVANCED LIFTERS
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