How Often Should I Train?

How Often Should I Train?

Like most fitness questions, how often you should train is "it depends."

If you have the time and the ability to recover between lifting sessions, then I recommend six days per week.

At a bare minimum, try to lift at least three days per week.

From there, you can play with different frequencies and training splits to see what works best for you.

I personally like lifting six days per week with the seventh day dedicated to rest or relaxing.

To understand frequency, first you need to understand how it affects muscle growth and progress.

More isn't always better.

If you train a muscle group too often, you'll over-stress your joints and tissues by not allowing them to recover.

If you do excessive steady-state cardio, you'll actually hold onto fat more instead of losing fat faster.

Moderation and recovery are key.

Hitting chest five days a week and never training legs is a recipe for injury down the road.

Biking for miles and miles and never training for strength is a recipe to remain overweight for years to come.

So how much is too much?

Again, it varies based on the individual, but here are a few things to consider.

#1. A muscle group can usually handle another intense training session within 72 hours of the last time you trained that muscle group. That's why rotating body part groups can work so well to fit in more frequency during the week.

#2. If you still have excessive soreness in that muscle group after 72 hours, you're either not eating enough calories, not getting enough sleep, or training with too high a volume (meaning too many sets of the same muscle group). 

You can usually avoid any issues if you space out your body part splits by 72 hours and focus on adequate recovery and nutrition.

For example, this is how you could plan a Chest / Back / Legs split:

  • Monday: Legs (Quads Dominant)
  • Tuesday: Chest & Tris
  • Wednesday: Back & Shoulders
  • Thursday: Legs (Glutes & Hamstrings Dominant)
  • Friday: Chest & Shoulders
  • Saturday: Back & Arms
  • Sunday: Rest

That covers all of your major groups with two training sessions per week, and hits your arms three times per week. Each major muscle group has at least 72 hours to recover before it gets trained again.

From there, you can work in abs and cardio as you see fit.

If I needed to burn some extra calories on this type of routine, I would add in some steady-state cardio on Mon/Wed/Fri and some brief HIIT sessions on Tue/Thu... all of which would be completed AFTER I was finished with weightlifting.

What if six days per week doesn't work for you?

The other side of this coin is a full body routine at least three days per week, which could look like this:

  • Monday: Full Body & Steady-State Cardio
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Full Body & Steady-State Cardio
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Full Body & Steady-State Cardio
  • Saturday: Rest or Active Day
  • Sunday: Rest

With the routine you'll have three full body days per week, and the days in between are either rest or active rest days.

If you need to burn some extra calories, you can work in some HIIT cardio on Tue/Thu.

A nice bonus with HIIT cardio is you can do it pretty much anywhere you have some floor space, and it only takes 5 to 15 minutes. When all else fails, you can do a challenging circuit of burpees and core work.

Obviously, this isn't the only way to program your weekly routines. Try things for a while and see what works best for you.

These things don't have to be complicated.

Get good at the basics...

Stay consistent with a routine...

You'll see the results...

Nick Hagood
Spartan Training & Coaching

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