How Often Should You Lift to Build Muscle?

How Often Should You Lift to Build Muscle?

Want to build strength or muscle extra fast?

We all do. But sometimes we want it so fast that we overdo it. Oops.

Well, I’m glad you’re here. When it comes to building muscle and strength, you need to lift. But more importantly, you need to know how  often you should lift so that you gain as much muscle as possible.

I’ve seen people who overdo it on the lifting front - trying to build muscle faster than it takes Clark Kent to transform into Superman. They’re training hard seven days a week, and they’re sore and exhausted.  Their body just can’t take it - and neither can their mind!

Worse still, they haven’t even achieved the gains they wanted.

That said, this doesn’t mean you can’t lift seven days a week. What’s more important here is how you arrange your lifting routine. In this article, Beast Gear dives into the nitty-gritty of lifting frequency and  what you need to do.

How Often Should You Lift?

Some folks divide their training up into a body-part split routine. This means they work on their legs on Monday, their chest on Tuesday, their back on Wednesday and so on.

The downside is that it means each muscle group is worked just once a week each - but sometimes not even that. For example, there might be times when leg day swings around but you’ve gotta go and see your youngest daughter perform in a play. In such a case, you have to give leg day a miss this week.

Alternatively, you could perform whole body workouts three or four times a week and experience more gains. With a whole body workout, you can do 3x sets 3x a week and gain more muscle than you would if you were focusing on separate body parts each day of the week.

In fact, a new review in the Sports Medicine journal shows that it’s actually more advantageous to train each muscle group more than once a week. It’s basic math:  If you train each muscle group twice a week, it will grow more than if you trained it once a week.

It’s all about efficiency and taking advantage of the minimum effective dose. Instead of hitting the gym and lifting seven days a week, you’re lifting smart on just three or four days.

A good way to split up your training schedule is to work on your upper body for two days a week and your lower body for another two days. That makes it four days in the gym in total, which is less than the dreaded and unnecessary seven days -  and it’s more effective.

The Benefits of Total Body Workouts

You’ll Train Smarter - Not Harder

Ever heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”? The same rule applies in the gym.

If you’re working on one muscle group once a week, you’ll consciously go harder on yourself. You’ll want to get as much out of chest day as you can. After all, it’s going to be a whole week before you can work on your chest muscles again after this. As such, it’s really hard to mentally back off and go easier on yourself. I’ve been there.

On the flip side, when you know that it’s only another two days until your next whole body workout, you’ll be a lot more responsible in the gym. You’ll relax more, punish yourself less - and actually gain more as a result. Bingo.

You’ll Get Stronger

When you lift, your muscles grow for around 48 hours. When those 48 hours elapse, they only start growing again when you start lifting again.

If you’re working each muscle one day a week each, it means they won’t start growing again for another five days after their muscle growth window has elapsed.

Not so with a whole body workout. After the 48-hour window has elapsed, you’re almost ready to work your muscles again.

Moreover, the more you lift, the better your form will get. Remember the other old adage, “practice makes perfect”? That works here too. The more you workout, the easier it will be for your muscles to remember good technique.

Not just this, but whole body workouts will make you more flexible and keep your soft tissues and joints healthy, all of which will make it easier to lift.

Lifting Will Become a Habit

If you adopt a whole body workout routine, it’s highly likely that you’ll be hitting the gym three or four times a week. Pretty soon, you’ll develop a habit and lifting will be seen as just another part of your day - another part of your day that you can deal with. You’ll have your mojo swinging.

On the other hand, if you decide to work on each muscle one day a week, you’d be hitting the gym seven days a week. Pretty soon, the routine might get too much and you might start tohate training. Seven days a week is also a lot harder to maintain. There’ll be other stuff going on in your life and your schedule might get too tight.

How To Train Four Days a Week

If you decide to perform total body workouts four days a week, it’s a good idea to pick three big lifts and restrict yourself to three sets at the most. Each set should be treated like a practice and you should be mindful to only do what you can that day.

Some days will be better than others - that’s  just the way it is. If your lifting is down 5 kg this week, suck it up and have another crack next week.

It’s also a good idea to be careful with any isolations you use. Four days of training the same muscles can take its toll, especially if you chuck in something like a few curls here and there at the end of a session. Before you know it, you might experience some shoulder pain. Then, you’re out of the game.

In fact, it’s a good idea to eliminate all isolation work during the first four weeks. Then, you can gradually slip in a few at the end of your workouts.


All in all, total body workouts are arguably more beneficial to you than working each muscle group individually. You’ll experience more gains faster and you can also take days off. Result!

It’s just a question of relaxing, getting into the swing of things and doing what feels right. Over time, you’ll get stronger and fitter and the question of how often to lift won’t even cross your mind. The only question left will be, ‘how strong can I actually get here?’

Don’t forget your  lifting gear ;)

Beast Your Goals.

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