How Often Should I Lift Weights

How Often Should I Lift Weights?
Bodybuilding is a sport that seems to attract a lot of extremists. Those who decide to pursue a workout to build muscle mass often times find themselves in an “all or nothing” mentality, where their life is consumed with gaining muscle or they are not working toward a goal at all. It is rare to find the perfect balance to the question: “How often should I lift weights?”

Many bodybuilders make the mistake of thinking that more is better and they take their training to an extreme level. If you do not allow your body proper time to recover and grow, you will eventually over-train your muscles. Your body can only recover so quickly, so you must give it the time it needs. In general, training each body part twice per week is the most you can do if you want to allow your body the time it needs to recover. You should only workout five days per week overall and give yourself two days of rest each week. This is the best guideline to follow for muscle gain, and while some specialized workouts might be exceptions to this, following these guidelines will help keep you from overtraining.

To Lift Less Often is Not Always Better

Once learning these negative effects, however, many body builders cut back on their workouts thinking that less must be more. Even some experts focus very heavily on avoiding overtraining and push the “less is more” mentality, including some of the big names in body building workouts. Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty style workouts generate a solid plan of action, utilize progressive overload and help the lifter monitor their progress. The bottom line of his plan is good, but it leads many people to believe that a lack of results from this plan is still due to overtraining. Many lifters continue to decrease their workout plans, some even to just once a week. Some guru’s even proclaim once a month is all you need. This approach is just another extreme answer to the question: “How often should I lift weights?” Following this kind of extreme minimalist approach to working out can have negative effects on your muscles just like working out too often can be harmful.

For some who find it difficult to gain muscle mass, a less frequent workout may be the best way for them to gain muscle. For example, they may train every second day. For most people, however, they will see their best results from more frequent workouts following schedules of two days on and one day off or something similar.

So what about me? How often should I lift weights?
When it comes to knowing the right amount of training, it takes time to understand the optimal workout schedule for your unique body. There are no set rules, but these guidelines will give you a good starting point. Start by working each body part twice per week and working a total of four or five days per week. Begin to pay attention to your own body and find out what works best for you. Adjust from there and begin to see true results.

These results take time. But if you remain dedicated to your workout routine, as well as varying it for optimal results, you will see your muscle mass increase well over time. Have patience with yourself and resist the desire to swing from one extreme to another. It is also recommended that you always workout with a trainer or spotter, especially in the beginning of your training while you are still learning. Before beginning any lifting program, you should consult with your doctor or physician.

Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned:

  • There are no set rules to how often you should workout. Start with a balanced routine and adjust it to workout more or less and see how your body responds.
  • Most extreme workouts that promote lifting everyday or only once a week do not work for the majority of regular lifters. Go for a balanced approach and use common sense when choosing a routine.
  • If you’ve been lifting on a consistent basis for months or years with no measurable results, you may be over-training. Try to cut back on the number of workouts or sets you do per muscle group a week.

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