How Often Should I Work Out?

How often you should work out depends on your level of experience.

If you are new to bodybuilding, you are still getting used to the exercises and probably have not developed the ability to safely lift heavy weights yet.  The best plan for the first half year is to do a whole body workout two or three times a week and keep the weights low so you can always do at least 8 reps.  Your joints need a chance to slowly (months or years) get used to the strain of the weightlifting, start out benching 225 and you are asking for trouble.  Patience is the key, the last thing you want to do is get injured and end your bodybuilding career before it even starts.

After about 6 months of lifting weights you will probably cease to make gains in strength, when this happens its time to change your routine to an intermediate workout plan. In this workout plan each muscle will only be worked out once a week but it will get many more sets. Instead of doing the working out the whole body in a single day, we will only workout 1/3 of the body and save the other two thirds for our other two workout days. In this way we can workout each muscle more intensely, but less often.

After doing an intermediate type workout for 6-12 months, the gains will cease and it will be time to switch to an advanced workout plan. By this point you know the mechanics of all the exercises and your muscles are highly trained, its time to really put them to work.  In this training regimen, you are really going to be taxing your muscles to the fullest and you will be very sore the next days after so adequate rest between workouts is important.  We are going to have five separate workouts repeat them on a five or seven day cycle depending on how fast you recuperate.  Here is schedule that I have found works the best:

  • chest
  • back
  • legs
  • shoulders
  • arms
  • rest

The reason for this particular order is that doing chest works triceps also so you don’t want to do your arm workout adjacent to the chest workout.  Likewise the back workout uses biceps to you don’t want to do back adjacent to arm workouts either.  Shoulders workouts out chest also so you don’t want chest and shoulders near each other.  Complicated, huh?

See the overtraining section for additional information.

Another important factor in how often you can train is how much sleep you get. If you are chronically sleep deprived then you need longer to recuperate than if you get your 8hrs sleep a night. If you want to maximize your bodybuilding progress then don’t set an alarm, let your body wake up when it has slept enough. From the research I have seen, sleep is important down time which allows your body to repair the damage done during your workouts.