Everyone talks about the subject of training frequency differently. There are so many different ideas and opinions out there, but what’s the right one? Is there a right one? How frequently should you train for bigger muscles?
Well, much like everything else to do with fitness… there’s really no right or wrong answer. Not in that sense anyway. Usually, this is mainly due to the differences between one body type and another. However, in the case of training frequency it all has to do with what you’re willing to do, what you have time for.
If we were to summarize the whole concept of this article, it would be with this… Do more or do less — it doesn’t matter, but you need to remember that the more you do the less you have to do it. Does that make sense? No? Well! That’s why we’re going to break these things down for you!
We’re going to be talking about all the common training frequencies, as well the least common ones. We’re also going to be introducing you to the science behind it all, as well as other little details that you should know, if you’re looking to embark on an intense fitness journey. Give it a scroll, and learn more down below!
Okay, so let’s start with the science of it all first. What’s going on in your body when you exercise and how can you use knowledge of that process to further your goals? Well, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it all.
First, let’s start with the physical aspects. These are the things that we kind of just see and feel. After exercising, there’s a rush that makes you feel great — if a bit exhausted, and that rush can last for quite a while. It’s a great sensation, and it really makes you feel like you’ve accomplished quite the feat. This is what a lot of people strain to achieve. It’s that high that allows you to confidently say, that you worked your hardest!
So, enough with the vague terminology, what exact is it that you’re feeling? Hm? Well, a lot of people refer to it as an Exercise High or Runner’s High. Scientifically, however, the rush is caused by a rush of something called endorphins. Endorphins, as described by shape.com, are the “pain killing” hormones that provide us pleasure.
In that sense, the sting of exercise is brought down a couple of steps and we just feel great all around. Seriously, if you’ve never felt it before, then you should know that you’re doing it completely wrong. Because, for most people, this is the thing that pushes them to do it all over again, to bear with the pain and the soreness.
Okay, so this is when we start talking about frequency. How often or how long, should you exercise to achieve this high? Well, it’s all kind of relative. By that I mean, it’s been connected to really intense bouts of exercises. This is when you really go hard on the lifts or the cardio. However, the actual ‘Runner’s High’ sensation doesn’t happen to just everyone.
In some people, rather than a burst of intense euphoria (as described by nbcnews), they get mood boosting effects that just generally make you feel good about life. They go even further by talking about how, for the most part, people experience such benefits after only 30-minutes of moderate-intensity exercises. These benefits can range from helping with things like “anxiety, depression, tension, and even anger.”
So, it only takes around 30-minutes to get that up and going, but how about the rest? What other timelines should we keep in mind? This is where we move to another facet that is vital in helping you answer the “How frequently should train for bigger muscles” question.
This is a big word, in a sense that, it’s vital that everyone knows and is aware of it before embarking on their fitness journey. Unfortunately, muscles don’t just appear overnight. There’s a process to it, and this is largely due to recovery.
Now, if one were to describe it simply. Then, it would be like this… Recovery is important in the process of repairing and rebuilding your muscles. That’s really all there is to it. If you don’t get enough rest, then there’s no way for your muscles to ever fully recover. This will then impede on your muscle’s ability to build muscle.
In other words, the exercises break down muscle tissue, and if you want it to repair? Then you’re going to have allow for a recovery period that will help repair the fibers of your muscles. Okay, so that was pretty basic stuff. Everyone should know the importance of recovery, but the real question remains the same. How long? How long should you let yourself recover?
As frustrating as it is to hear… the answer is — it depends. Okay, but it’s not entirely baseless. So, don’t panic just yet. How much you recover will depend on how hard you go. Simple enough right? Well, yes and no. See, the kind of activity that goes on inside of your body when you’re lifting weights, will result in muscle contractions. This is the process that breaks down muscle, and in this sense it just so happens that lifting weights breaks down a lot more muscle — which then requires more recovery.
So, how long? Well, Livestrong makes it simple for us by giving us a timeline to answer that question, and you might not like the answer. So, in order for a muscle to fully recover, one must wait up to 14 days (two weeks.) That’s just how it works, however, that doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise in between those two weeks. No, on average, the recovery periods between workouts is around 48 hours (two days.)
That’s not so bad, when you really consider it. Of course, knowing how much you should exercise and how much you should rest, is just one part of the process. Next, let’s talk about the actual training frequencies that most people practice!
Muscle Groups — Once Per Week!
This is one of the most common ways of working out. In this case, full body workouts are temporarily shoved aside in favor of isolated workouts. The name itself says it all really. Isolated workouts are for people who are looking to focus on one muscle group at a time. This can mean, leg days on monday, chest days on tuesday, back days on wednesday, etc.
By employing this kind of training program, you can exert all of your effort in make sure that your body is perfectly defined — everywhere. The main requirement when it comes to this kind of schedule, is that you kind of have to go all out. See, if you want to only train one muscle group at a time, and then expect significant results, then you should put your back into it (literally.) Let’s look into that a little more closely with our pros and cons.
Pros: Okay, so let’s look at the pros. What good things can be expect from a schedule like this? Well, for one thing, you can ensure that you are getting the most when it comes to recovery. Plus, when you really think about it, it might be easier on you in general as well. After all, working one muscle group at a time would mean that you’re giving that muscle time to rest, which should help you isolate the soreness that you feel only to certain parts of your body at a time.
Cons: How about cons? What kind of bad things can can we expect? Well, as we were talking about previously. This kind of schedule kind of lends itself to accidental undertraining. Without meaning to, you might end up not getting enough lifts to make significant progress. At the same time, overextending yourself by going all out might end putting too much stress on certain parts of your body.
Bottom Line: There’s obviously both good and bad with this kind of scenario. It all depends on how well you know your body, and how much it can handle at a time. It doesn’t make this a bad choice, but it is something that you’re going to have to make sure to plan carefully.
Muscle Groups — Twice Per Week!
Alright, so no we’re climbing a little higher up in the numbers. This kind of exercise would require that you work on a couple of muscle groups a time— twice a week, with interspaced 2-3 rest periods for maximum recovery. As an example, you can work on lower body exercises one day, the lower body the next, rest, do it again, and then rest on the weekend! Doesn’t sound so bad right? Well, it’s not! Look at the pros and cons to see what I mean.
Pros: When we’re talking about good things, then we talk about how it’s a lot easier to handle over and undertraining. You get more chances to work on your muscles, but perhaps just enough to keep you from incurring any permanent damage.
Cons: Outside of the training demands, there’s really nothing too extremely wrong with this one. In this case, it really just has to do with the balance of it all. You can still over and under train, but that’s kind of inevitable at this point.
Muscle Groups — Thrice Per Week!
I’m sure you can already sense the problems with this one, but still, much like we’ve said before… it’s not a ‘bad’ thing. There are risks involved, but that’s the truth for all the training frequencies we mentioned. It’s just, in this case, you’re likely to risk one side of the extreme more than the other. That extreme being — overtraining. These training frequencies often feature intense full body training followed by 1-2 days of rest periods in between.
Pros: With this much exercises, you don’t have to worry about not getting enough exercises. You’re playing at your maximum capacity here, day in and out, you’re workout your entire body several times a week. Of course, the massive results that you can expect with this kind of training frequency is somewhat hampered by the cons.
Cons: The cons here are rather obvious. As mentioned in our ‘The Science’ section, under recovery. The recommended time for letting your muscles recover before straining it again is 48 hours. Doing this will push the envelope when it comes to risk of overtraining.
Bottom Line: For this frequent of a regime, you can expect good results, but only if you remember the importance of rest and giving your body time to heal. The risk of overtraining is definitely at its’ highest in this case, but that might just be worth it if you can figure out how to do it properly.
Conclusion — How frequently should you train for bigger muscles?
So, what’s the big picture here? Is there really an answer to the question “How frequently should you train for bigger muscles?” Well, if you’re looking for an easy answer, then I’m afraid I can’t give you one. However, I can give you some advice. See, if you read through our frequency breakdown, then you’d know that there are MAJOR differences between each set.
However, that doesn’t mean that one is necessarily bad, or that another is the best. All of these can and will work. It’s just a matter of how much time you’re willing to give per day. Would you rather be working out more often (in which case the muscle groups once per week will benefit you most) or would you rather be working out less often (in which case the muscle group three times per will benefit you more.)
That’s honestly all there is to it. In the end, if you want big results, then you’re going to have to make you schedule work somehow. Just keep in mind, that if you work out less often — you’re going to have to train harder, and if you work out more often — you’re going to have to train less. That’s it! That’s the trick. Hopefully, that helped you figure out a couple of things regarding your exercise routine!