There is always a lot of debate among gym-goers and any one looking to perfect their physique – how many times a week should a certain body part or muscle group be trained? If you are looking to gain maximum size, this question is particularly important as you do not want to overwork a muscle group, but you don’t want to go too soft on it either! Finding the right balance can take some experimentation, but this guide will help you jump start that journey.
The Research Behind Strong Bicep and Tricep Gains
Well, let’s take a look at some research that might help us to answer this question. All I can say is thank you for the scientific method, the express ticket to reliable gains.
Before we directly answer this question, let’s take a look at how often you want to train a muscle group to see any growth at all. We are going to reference the science here – using an observational study that was conducted on male amateur bodybuilders. This study asked them how often they train trained a muscle group per week – most of them (69% to be exact) trained 1 muscle group a day, and each muscle group was trained just once a week. The other 31% trained their muscle groups two to three times a week.
So what did this study show? This research shows that you can get results from training arms and biceps just once a week – though this may not be optimal. To truly max out our muscle groups, I believe more training is needed. Let’s take a look at another study that will help to shed more light on this issue.
The Meta Study To Rule Them All
This next study was a meta-study and review of the effects of resistance training frequency and how it affected muscle hypertrophy (or muscle breakdown). After review thousands of other studies, the authors came to the conclusion that training muscle groups twice a week led to optimal results.
In fact, it accounted for nearly double the growth in muscle (3.7% muscle growth for once a week, 6.7% for twice a week). They were not able to conclude if training 3 times a week was beneficial or detrimental, so experiment at your own risk. If you feel like your workout wasn’t hard enough or that you could use some more work a particular week, three times might just be the key. Beginners can often train three times a week due to using lower weights and less stress being put on their joints.
Patience and Consistency are the Highways to Growth
Remember, weight training is just like any other skill. It takes time to master, and it is more than just simply stacking more weights onto the bar. You also need to teach your muscles and central nervous system to work together in harmony, allowing your to contract harder during a set. Additionally, your diet and sleep schedule play a huge role in the gains you can make in the gym.
If you are a beginner, you may be able to train a muscle group three times a week. Once you start lifting big boy weights though, your body will need more time to rest and recuperate and it places more strain on your joints and spine, so it is wise to train each muscle group twice a week to allow for proper recovery. Advanced and older gym-goers can often get away with training a muscle group every 5 – 7 days, using heavy weights and of course the proper equipment like belts to reduce injury.
Summary of Optimal Training Regimens:
- Beginners – Full body training 3 times a week
- Intermediate – Upper body / Lower Body / Upper body
- Advanced or Older Bodybuilders – Upper / Lower (Or Push/Pull/Lower)
Don’t Forget the Basics!
No matter which muscle groups you are targeting, make absolutely sure not to neglect the fundamentals. This will lead to lackluster muscle growth and feeling fatigued and sore for longer than normal!
If you are trying to build any type of muscle, it is absolutely imperative that you are eating enough, especially watching your protein levels. Most guys need at least 3000 calories per day to pack on any kind of muscle, and if you are a skinny guy with a super speedy metabolism there’s a good chance you will need to eat more. One study found that 0.82 grams of protein per pound of body weight was the perfect amount of daily protein.
Get Enough Sleep
It is easy to overlook the importance of sleep, sometimes it seems like you are just fine without the proper amount! But not getting enough sleep every night can lead to slower muscle gain and recovery, so if you are really looking to get stronger you need to be getting plenty of sleep every night, optimally 8 hours per night.
Steady Increase of Weight
The golden rule of weight lifting, just keep putting more weight on the bar. While this is not the end all be all, as reps and intensity matter, but being able to lift more weight is a pretty unmistakable sign that you are stronger.
Hey! My name is Stephen and I’m the owner of Ultimate Core Health. Since we started, we’ve grown into a trusted resource for unbiased, science-based articles and reviews on fitness, nutrition and supplements. Check me out on social media, feel free to add me if you want to talk health!