Two of the biggest questions in weight training! how many times a week should you workout, and how long should those workouts be?
This is one of the most important questions to ask when it comes to weight training, and one of the most important things to know.
So How Often?
How often should you be working out each week depends on what you are trying to achieve. You have probably heard from many different people about this already. Their responses to this question probably vary from 3 days a week to working out every day, which would probably leave some people somewhat confused, so which is it?
In this article I will be focusing on weight training specifically. If your weight training intensity is high, which it should be if you want to actually achieve anything other than burning off a few calories. If your workout intensity is high then you are going to need rest and recovery days. These rest days allow your muscles to fully recover from a high intensity weight training session. These rest days also allow your muscles to grow, provided you are supplying your muscles with enough nutrients, ideally protein.
So a good standard and recommended weight training schedule would be 3 to 4 times a week, this allows you to cover all the muscle groups and train them effectively and to give yourself adequate time to rest and recover those muscles. How much rest you actually need is dependent upon a few factors, such as how hard you actually trained your muscles and your genetics, some of us will recover quicker than others. Other factors will be your diet, how many calories you consume and your nutrient intake, and also how much sleep you are getting.
Can you train the same muscle group more than once a week?
Yes you can but there is something to keep in mind, once you train a particular muscle, it requires anywhere from 2 to 6 days to fully recover and to allow for any muscle growth to occur.
If you don’t give your body adequate time to recover you will run the risk of over training which will hinder your process in terms of muscle growth.
Some people can make gains with just 2 weight training sessions per week however it will probably take longer to see any progress.
This article is just focused on weight training and it doesn’t take into account cardiovascular exercises which can be included into your weight training sessions, or even performed on your rest days.
3 or 4 days a week has a nice balance of work and recovery, create a 3 or 4 day workout plan and stick to it. When your progress begins to slow down, change things around, change the days that you workout, change the order of the exercises and even change the exercises themselves. Just keep your basic compound exercises.
How long should your workout be?
So how long should you workout for? you may have heard many different opinions and ideas on this. These suggestions can range anywhere from as little as 30 minutes or less to 2 hours or more.
The truth is there is not any set time which is ideal to achieve results. The actual time that somebody should workout for varies greatly depending on a few factors.
So what are these factors?
How many times a week you train.
how many body parts you train in a single workout.
Whether you are a beginner with little workout experience.
How hard you train during your time.
How much talking/socializing you do in the gym.
What your goal is.
Time spent warming up or cooling down.
What training methods you are using.
Time spent getting dressed and showering and so on!
Also generally how much time you spend messing about before, after and during your workout.
Genetics, metabolisms and things that are party beyond our control.
There is no such thing as an ideal workout time period! it just doesn’t exist, so once we accept that we can move forward.
Can we spend too much time in the gym?
Basically yes we can, we can overload our muscles which could limit our progress and even cause injury. However over training is not directly linked to how much time we spend in the gym. You could spend 2 hours or longer in the gym everyday and not over train, it just depends on how much actual training is being done in that time period.
Is a 30 minute workout long enough?
Yes most definitely, if you just kept your workout to a single body part, or focused on compound exercises then that could be enough to make decent gains in strength and muscle mass. However as mentioned above it does depend on the intensity of the training that is performed during that 30 minutes.
Performing supersets or drop sets are also a much quicker way of getting through your sets therefore speeding up your workouts.
30 minutes is also a decent amount of time for a cardiovascular workout, training high intensity for 30 minutes can give your heart and lungs a good workout as well as burning off as many as 300+ calories.
On the flip side a 30 minute workout maybe too short to fit in a multi muscle targeted muscle building workout, it may not be enough time to sufficiently target those muscle groups in one workout.
So there really is not an ideal set time that you should be working out for, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to focus on that.
The harder you train in your workout, the less time you will need to be at the gym to get the results you are looking for.
Focus on consistency and intensity, not duration.