How Many Times A Week Should You Lift?

It's legitimate question if you’re trying to burn fat and build some muscle. Ask the average American and you will get any number of answers. 2, 4, 5, 7 days a week? What is the best answer?

First of all, let's look at why we lift.

Dr. Volek, an Associate Professor in the #1 ranked Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut where he teaches and leads a research team that explores the physiologic impact of various dietary and exercise regimens and nutritional supplements, explains,

If you pick up a heavy weight, put it down, and repeat it a few times and do it often enough, you will build muscle. You will also burn calories. And you will raise your metabolism. All of which will help you lose fat and better still, maintain that look for the rest of your life.

What does the research say?

Dr Volek explains further,

Consider that British researchers recently determined that men who lifted 3 days a week for 5 weeks increased muscle size by about .2 percent per day. Sure, this amount to growth is unnoticeable from day to day, but imagine how dramatic the cumulative effect would be if you were to work all of your major muscle groups 3 days per week, 52 weeks a year. This is called consistency and its the true key to achieving the most success possible on any exercise program.

Researchers at University of Alabama had one group of men train each muscle group once a week for 3 months; another group performed the same number of total sets weekly but split them up equally between three total-body workouts. The result? The men who lifted more frequently gained 9 pound of muscle - 5 more than those who trained each muscle once a week.

Alayna Cosgrove, a former world-class martial artist turned strength coach, who is recognized as one of the country's foremost fitness experts says,

When you're training daily, each muscle group is only targeted once each week. So in essence, those muscles grow for just 2 days out of every 7. With total-body workouts, though, you can work each muscle more often. By training a muscle three times a week, it spends more total time growing.

It's impossible to isolate a muscle with any exercise; you can't even pick up a pencil with just one muscle. Take, for example a popular exercise known as the bent-over-row. If you subscribe to body -part training, it's a "back" exercise. But because of the interconnection between the muscles and connective tissues of the hips and back, your hamstrings and gluteus are contracted for the entire exercise. So you're not only working your black, your challenging your legs as well. And don't forget the involvement of your forearms and biceps in pulling the bar to your chest. You can separate your workouts by muscle groups, but based on science, it's illogical. You're not actually separating anything. Another reason that the total-body training just makes good sense.

What does this mean?

Instead of isolating muscles each day (Legs - Monday, Back - Tuesday, Chest - Wednesday, Shoulders - Thursday, Biceps - Friday, Triceps - Saturday), train full body groups 3-4 days a week. For example, (Monday - Chest, Back, Legs, Shoulders; Wednesday - Chest, Back, Legs, Shoulders; Friday - Chest, Back, Legs, Shoulders). Instead of only targeting each body part 1x per week, you are now targeting the entire body 3x per week. As a result, your body is increasing strength, muscle size, and increasing your metabolism which will significantly increase your body's ability to burn fat.

*Make sure you are achieving the overload principle. For more information, read, "We Strive For Fitness Failure."

What are you to do?

Look what the research says. Training your entire body multiple times per week will be more productive than training each body part 1x per week. Lift 3-4x per week while allowing your body to recover from the lift for 36-48 hours. Once the 48-hour window is up, it's time to get back to the club and lift again. Keep the lifting consistent for 3 months and watch the muscle grow and the fat melt away!

*For those of you who do not want to gain muscle mass but just get leaner and toned, if you do not consume adequate protein quantities, you will not grow muscle mass.


Steven Zahn

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