Exercise Frequency – How often should you workout per week?
The first thing to decide when developing a workout schedule is the frequency with which you will train. Workout frequency is generally considered the number of workouts a person completes each week. Typically, an effective workout frequency is from two to five times a week.
Obviously, frequency has a direct relationship to how much time you have available and are willing to devote to resistance training. You will experience greater results when you are able to “hit the gym” more often in a given week, but this greater frequency also needs to be balanced with proper rest periods to maximize the gains. Although a greater frequency will result in greater overall gains, you should not be discouraged if you only have one or two days on which you can train. You can still achieve positive results with as few as two days per week. Any time spent resistance training is beneficial and helps contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Of course, the total amount of time you spend in the gym is determined by your busy schedule, but you should realize that greater benefits will result from more consistent and regular training. Also, remember that the load you lift and the frequency of the workout should be inversely related. In other words, if you lift relatively heavy or near maximal loads, then you will need more rest between workouts; therefore, your workouts will be less frequent than those of someone who is lifting relatively lighter loads.
To continue making strength gains, you should increase your workout frequency as you become more experienced in the gym. Again, beginners are able to advance and see strength gains when they undertake any sort of resistance training. Having a lower workout frequency when you are starting out allows your muscles to experience the appropriate rest and recovery between sessions. As you establish consistency with your workouts, gains become more difficult to achieve. Adding more days to your program allows you to achieve greater results.
Several methods can be used to optimize your strength training so that you are working efficiently and achieving the greatest gains possible while allowing enough rest between sessions. These methods include using a split routine (alternating workouts according to body part or region, muscle group, or type of movement), alternating heavy and light days, and using circuit training, pyramid training, or super or compound sets.
If your goal is to gain strength and consequently muscle mass, then you need to optimize your workout for maximal power. The best way to do that is to go hard 3x per week with a day of rest in between each workout.
Remember that exercise tears down your muscle, and you need rest and proper nutrition to build it back up stronger than before. This is even more important in the beginning than it is later on when you have a better idea of what you can and can’t do.