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 3-4 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 you can only get three trips to the gym in, full body workouts will be your best choice. Hit an upper body push, an upper body pull, a lower body exercise and maybe some loaded carries or a little gun pump. Just focus on bang-for-your-buck exercises and make the most of your time.
If it’s totally out of the question for you to squeeze in that extra 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.
Or you can even do a double session on one of those days if time permits. Maybe you get up 30 minutes early and go outside for some hill sprints before work, then hit the gym on your way home, later that day. There are plenty of ways to get it in.
Another reason I like limiting strength training workouts to 3-4 sessions per week is that I believe everyone should play.
It’s incredibly beneficial both physically and mentally to get out and actually play like we did as kids. Join a flag football league, play beach volleyball on the weekends with friends, go hiking, surfing, skiing, or take a martial art.
Fitness is about more than just lifting weights and performing impressive feats in the gym. You need to get out and move and have some fun. If you do this not only will your fitness improve but so will your stress levels and your overall enjoyment of life.
What if I Can Only Train 2 Days Per Week?
If you can only make it to the gym twice a week 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. High level athletes train quite a bit. So to think that you will maximize your strength, size or conditioning on just two workouts is probably a bit far fetched.
But don’t let that discourage you. Two is better than zero and you can still make some nice gains.
One thing to remember is that a workout doesn’t have to last an hour for it to be worthwhile. Often times when I’m incredibly busy I train at home and my workouts don’t last longer than 20-30 minutes. So there’s always that option.
All you need at home is a pair of rings. Throw in a kettlebell or two with that and you’re set.
Two can work, but obviously, 3-4 days will be better 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. Then some of them go train after. 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.