To build muscle optimally you should be doing four workouts per week consisting of weight training and bodyweight exercises.
This works well for most average guys with busy schedules and what might be less than optimal recovery ability.
When you have a full time job, a family and tons of stress in your life, like most of us have in today’s modern society, your ability to recover from training is compromised.
So four training sessions per week works out quite nicely. It gives you the stimulation needed to build size and strength and also plenty of days off to live the rest of your life and recover from your workouts.
If it’s totally out of the question for you to squeeze in a fifth day then you can simply add some sprint or sled training to the end of one or two workouts each week. All you need is 10-15 minutes and you’ll be good to go.
Training 2-3 Days Per Week
If you can only make it to the gym 2-3 times due to an insane work or social schedule it’s not the end of the world. You can still make progress. Just know that it will never be optimal.
If two days is all you can do I’d probably opt for two full body days like those in Minimalist Training.
If you can only do three days I usually recommend an upper/lower/upper split then hope you can sneak in a sprint session over the weekend.
But obviously, four days will be better than two or three if you’re looking to make a rapid physical transformation. This gives you more opportunities to send an anabolic signal to your body, meaning you’ll have more growth stimulation throughout each week.
You’ll also stay leaner because properly planned strength training workouts improve insulin sensitivity and allow you to eat more carbs without gaining fat.
In addition, your metabolism will get a nice spike from the more frequent workouts so that you’re always burning more body-fat throughout the day.
Overtraining has become a thing people fear more than death. But the reality is that you can handle more than you think and it’s very hard to reach a true deep, dark state of overtraining.
If you’re smart about your workouts (meaning you don’t go too heavy, do grinding death sets, beat up your joints or train to failure), get enough sleep and eat properly you can largely avoid any type of overtraining.
Gymnasts and Olympic lifters train every day. So do sprinters and most other athletes. Guys do heavy manual labor every day to make a living. It won’t kill you.
If you went out and threw fifty fastballs today, having not pitched in ten years, your shoulder would feel like it was going to fall of tomorrow.
However, if you got in the habit of doing it more regularly the pain would go away. The same thing happens with strength training.
Even if you only do three serious strength training workouts per week you should still do something active (stretch, hike, bike, swim, pick up games, mobility work, etc.) at least two or three other days.
The human body is built to move; not sit around on the couch.
Remember- to rest is to rust.