How Often Should I Train For Gains?
Want to gain lean muscle?
If so, you might be wondering how often you should be working out.
What’s the best frequency to hit each muscle group so that you see results, but don’t end up overtraining?
Let’s take a closer peek into this topic as it’s not a black and white answer.
Your Experience Level
The first thing to consider is your experience level.
It’s easy to assume that the more experienced you are, the more often you can hit each muscle group. This isn’t always the case.
More experienced individuals will typically hit their muscle groups with a higher intensity per session, and this demands more rest in between workouts.
So while a beginner may be able to squat three times per week for instance, a more advanced lifter may be better off squatting just once or twice per week.
This said, beginners will typically spend less total time in the gym over the course of the week.
So while they may hit each muscle group three times with a full-body-workout program, they’ll need the other four days off in between workouts to allow their body to recover.
Someone who is better trained and more advanced may be able to workout four to five days per week as their body is better adapted to handling the stress of the workouts.
Your Body Type
The second thing to consider is your body type.
If you are a pure Ectomorph, that is someone who struggles to put on muscle mass, you’ll want to workout less frequently than someone who packs on muscle relatively easy.
This might seem counter-intuitive as well. If you struggle to build muscle, wouldn’t you want to workout more frequently – you might think? Not so.
Those who are naturally thin need more time resting and recovering.
If they spend too much time in the gym, they’ll just burn up precious energy that could have been spent building lean muscle mass.
Ectomorphs tend to have a very fast metabolic rate and already struggle to eat enough.
Add multiple workouts per week to this and it just amplifies the situation.
Your Primary Goals
Also consider your primary goals. If your goal is strength above muscle size, you’ll want to train less frequently as your training will be more intense and therefore more demanding on your central nervous system.
You’ll likely be training using sets of 5-6 reps, lifting as much weight as possible.
If you are doing this too often, burnout and overtraining are likely to occur.
If you are training for muscle gains however, you’ll typically be working in the rep range of 8-12 reps, therefore will be using a slightly lighter weight.
As such, it’s not as taxing on your central nervous system, therefore you may not need quite as much downtime for recovery.
Your Training Volume
Finally, consider your training volume. Are you doing 15 sets per workout or are you doing 30 sets per session?
The more overall volume you have in your workout protocol, the more time you’ll need to recover from that volume.
So you have a choice – more frequent workouts that are shorter or longer workouts that happen less frequently.
Most people will respond better to the former. Keep your workouts short and simple but get into the gym as often as you can to train hard.
Overall, you’ll be best served by hitting each muscle group one to two times per week, with the exception of beginners who can often hit each muscle three times per week as they use less volume and weight per session.
If you follow these guidelines, you should be hitting your sweet spot for lean muscle mass gains.