Lately, beginners to weightlifting have been asking me, how many days a week should you lift weights? I understand that the natural tendency is to assume that the more you workout, the more muscle you will build. That isn’t necessarily the case.
I know this all too well. I spent over 7 years working out at the gym before I finally realized I was doing something wrong. No, it wasn’t just the fact that I was working out 5-7 days per week.
There is more to it than that. In this article, I will discuss the things that you should be doing in order to build muscle. And depending where you are in your fitness journey, your routine will probably change a few times.
Before we get started, I urge you to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). We have multiple FREE workout plans that will accelerate your muscle growth. By the time you are done reading this article, you will be ready to take your muscle building to the next step.
How many days a week should you lift weights?
It seems like it would be an easy answer. How many days a week should you lift weights? The short answer is that a beginner should target weight training for 3-4 days per week. And a more advanced or intermediate should go with 4-5 days per week.
But it is not that simple. For example, I went from working out 5-7 days per week down to 3 days per week, and that is when my muscle gains skyrocketed. But was it because I simply dropped down to 3 days per week?
Of course not! There are certain exercises that you absolutely will want to include in your workout plan in order to make sure that you get the best results possible. These include bench press, deadlifts, squats, barbell bent over row, and bicep curls.
If you are interested, the exact plan that I personally created is in our app and it is called 3 Day Overload. It is the exact workout plan that helped me build over 20 pounds of muscle in one year. It turned me from a scrawny college student to a respectable muscular man.
As I mentioned earlier, if you are ready to step up and get a little bit more advanced, I recommend working out 4-5 days per week. Notice how I would never recommend going over 5 days per week of weight training?
It is not a good idea to overtrain. Overtraining can lead to fatigue and decreased muscle size and abilities. This is one of the many reasons that I didn’t build muscle in my first 7 years. I was overtraining and didn’t realize it.
You have to eat enough calories to build muscle
All this talk about lifting weights brings back bad memories of trying to figure out the magic formula for building muscle. It turns out, the formula is so simple, and I was just trying to complicate things.
Here is one simple truth for you. If you aren’t eating enough calories, you will not build muscle. To put it another way, you cannot build muscle while in a caloric deficit. In the same exact breath, we can say you cannot lose belly fat while in a caloric surplus.
These are just the basics of caloric surpluses and deficits. It is unfortunate that so many people buy into the idea that some magical pill or protein powder is going to get them into shape quickly.
If you follow these 3 steps, your body will have no choice but to build muscle:
Step 1: Eat at a caloric surplus every single day.
Step 2: Do weight training 3-4 days per week.
Step 3: Be consistent and your muscles will grow.
It is that simple, yet too many people are not willing to put in the work that it is going to take. I will admit, the hardest part of this is the calorie tracking.
Well, I would say it is the biggest learning curve. You can start by learning how to calculate your maintenance calories. Once you do that, you can now know if you are eating at a caloric surplus, deficit, or just maintenance.
I made the mistake of thinking that my maintenance calories were just average. Maybe like 2,000 calories, like the FDA always suggests. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My actual maintenance calorie number is 3,100 calories per day.
And I had to eat 500 calories per day over that number to build muscle.
Making sure you are on the best weekly weight training plan
I mentioned in the first section that the workout plan that I created and used for over a year is called 3 Day Overload. And it is of course available in our app. This workout plan is not for everyone. It is called overload for a reason. Because it is intense!
This might not be the workout plan for everyone, and I understand that. I recommend taking a look at our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass. And to be fair, the routine matters less than just showing up and doing the work.
Start by just picking a plan. Any plan. We have multiple FREE workout plans to choose from on our app, so there is no reason not to check those out.
The problem that I see a lot of beginners experiencing is that they jump around from plan to plan. That is a bad idea. Choose a plan and stick to it for at least 3 months before you advance to the next plan.
Consistency is more important in muscle building than the actual plan is. Therefore being consistent will get you where you want to go. Just remember, that muscle building takes time. Usually a long time.
I told you earlier that I built 20+ pounds of muscle in 1 year. I was working out 3 days per week for that whole year. There were maybe 3-5 workouts that I missed that year. That is what being consistent looks like and it paid off.
Even after that year was over, I didn’t stop there. I continued on and built around 20 pounds of muscle each year for the next 2 years.
It is all about just selecting a workout plan, sticking to it, and doing it for a long time. That is what is going to build muscle.
Main Point: How many days a week should you lift weights?
Are you ready to answer the question? How many days a week should you lift weights? By now you know that beginners should target 3-4 days per week. And if you are intermediate or advanced, you can get away with 4-5 days per week.
The reason that you don’t want to workout every day of the week is because you are overtraining your muscles. This will lead to weakened muscles, fatigue, etc.. Of course, you don’t want this when you are trying to build a solid body.
Remember, that muscle building is not just about the days of the week that you workout. There is much more to it than that. I would say that the number one way that you can build muscle is by eating at a caloric surplus AND weight training.
Eating at a caloric surplus is going to put on weight no matter what. But if you are working out alongside that caloric surplus, then those extra calories are going to be converted to muscle.
Be sure to follow the 3 step process that I outlined in the section about eating enough calories. Eat at a caloric surplus, do weight training 3-4 days per week, and be consistent. Doesn’t that seem simple enough? You can do this!
To bring it all together, simply stick to a workout plan, and make it happen. Don’t be the person who hops around from routine to routine, thinking that the one they are one isn’t working.
All workout plans will work to some extent. Therefore if you are not gaining muscle every week, chances are, you probably just aren’t eating enough.
What do you think about this article? How many days a week should you lift weights?