How Much Strength Training Should You Do Per Week?
How much strength training should you do per week?
Every single body is different and we all respond differently to different stimuli.
So it depends on a lot of things, including:
- your experience
- your background,
- your goals
- the time you have available
- what you enjoy doing.
And to an extent how your body’s built and the different types of muscle fibres you have.
A Note On Bodybuilding And Training Splits
I want to add a note about bodybuilders before we get too far along on this topic.
Most of the people that I’ve worked with and most of the people that my content tends to appeal to are not bodybuilders. They’re more what we could probably call the “general population”.
It’s common in bodybuilding circles (and there are plenty of people in much better shape than I’ll ever be in who are bodybuilders) to do one muscle group per workout per week.
So for example, leg day, chest day, back day, and so on for the other muscle groups.
It means that you can do a lot of isolation moves to target every muscle from pretty much every angle in the specific muscle group that you’re working.
And it’s something that’s very much sport-specific because bodybuilding in particular, is very much about getting a certain aesthetic appearance.
I’m not a body builder, as you can probably tell. And I have no experience in it whatsoever. So that’s probably about the upper limit of the level of detail I can go to and comment on it.
But generally, for both the general population and bodybuilders, none of the coaches that I have seen that seem to get the best results seem to resort to that kind of split.
The general consensus for most people seems to be multiple muscle groups per workout or full body workouts.
When I talk about multiple muscle groups, I mean something like an upper body and lower body split, pushing movements, pulling movements and legs, or maybe different combinations.
So you might do back and shoulders, chest and legs. Something like that.
Finding Your Sweet Spot
For building strength, you need to play around a little bit and find the sweet spot in terms of what works for you.
And by the sweet spot, I mean the right balance of:
- frequency – how often you’re working a certain muscle group
- intensity – how much volume you’re putting into that muscle group, such as how many sets and reps,
- and how much recovery you’re giving those muscles. Strength and muscle building, generally, you stimulate growth in your workouts, but it actually happens in your recovery.
In most cases, two to three times per muscle group per week seems to be the sweet spot.
I know in my case that I make very, very little progress trying to hit a muscle group once a week.
Two times a week, I make gradual, but reasonably steady progress.
My sweet spot, and this comes from a lot of trial and error, seems to be hitting a muscle group three times per week in the six to eight repetition range.
My strength-based workouts these days are almost entirely full body as a result.
What If You Don’t Enjoy Strength Training?
With the above, I’m talking about the sort of ideal or perfect scenario, and assuming that you either really enjoy or at least don’t mind doing strength work.
If however, you don’t enjoy strength training or weightlifting, or that kind of workout (which if you’re used to doing cardio and endurance or even some HIIT workouts where you’re constantly moving to some extent) then you’re probably going to find it really boring.
Alternating between working sets and rest periods will be taxing on your patience and you will feel like you’re not doing enough.
In that case, trying to force yourself is less than ideal, but building muscle or building strength is still something useful to do for your overall training. So if you can still try to force yourself, two times a week per muscle group would be ideal.
If you’re generally active otherwise, maybe with training once a week you’ll be able to maintain, or maybe even see a gradual increase in your strength.
Why Strength Training Is Important And **THAT** Myth
Training for strength and building strength and building muscle is an important thing to do.
It supports your everyday function as a human, I guess.
And if your goal is weight loss or fat loss, the more muscle tissue you have, or the denser muscle tissue you have, the more calories you’re going to be burning at rest.
So it actually makes that goal easier as well.
But it’s common, especially when you are brand new to fitness or to weight training or strength training, to assume that if you do too much, you’re actually going to get too big.
That I don’t think has ever happened by accident in history.
Gaining size and gaining muscle is an excruciatingly long and frustrating process.
And you need to be eating in a calorie surplus over a long period of time.
Plus you will notice your progress.
You’re not just going to go to bed one night and then wake up the next morning and suddenly you’ll be huge.
To be honest, that’s like saying you’re planning on going for a short jog and accidentally running a marathon.
So don’t worry about this idea of getting too big. Just understand that building some strength and working on building some muscle is a useful tool in your fitness arsenal.
It’s a key foundation for your long-term health, fitness, and wellness.
Wrapping Up How Much Strength Training You Should Do
But bringing this back around to the point, if you’re not a bodybuilder and haven’t been told to focus on any specific muscle groups for any specific number of times per week, then generally for most people, two to three times per week per muscle group is ideal.
What exactly that looks like for you might be down to some trial and error to figure it out.