I remember when I first started to train with weights, I would go to the gym 6 days a week. The only reason why I didn't go for seven was because the gym was closed on Sundays. I tell, those were some crazy times in my weight training career!
At this time, I figured the more time you spent in the gym, the more muscle you built. I have to say, this type of training worked like magic when I first started training. Everything got strong, my legs, my chest, my arms, everything. I used to think to myself, hey, If it's working, why not double my efforts and build some extra muscle?
However, my wake up call came about 4 months into my training routine. My body started to ache all the time, I loss my appetite, I lost sleep, and worst of all, I was getting smaller! I couldn't understand what was happening to my body. In attempt to fend off this monster, I trained harder and longer. I lost everything inch of muscular gain that I trained so hard to get.
It wasn't until one of the gym owners took pity on me that he took me under his wing and showed me what I was doing wrong. The first thing he said to me was Blake man, I don't want to see your ass in here for at least two weeks! Imagine, asking me not to come and train for two whole weeks!
He knew that my body was severely overtrained and needed some serious rest. After taking two weeks off, I felt like a million bucks. I came back to the gym and he told me told me something that was totally foreign to me. He asked me to train one body part, once per week. I couldn't believe what he was saying to me. How in the world were you supposed to grow?
He told me that you don't grow when you are hitting the weights. Your body only grows when you are resting and feeding your muscles. The thing I couldn't understand was how you built muscle while you were resting? How on earth can your body grow doing nothing? The thing was, he know what he was talking about.
So, instead of doing what all of my friends were doing, I followed his advice. I dramatically cut down on all my workouts including sets and reps. Instead of coming to the gym 6 days a week, I came in 3, maybe 4 at the most. I stopped doing 20 sets per body part and starting doing only 8 to 12. I increased my caloric intake by 1,000 and got a lot more rest.
The result? An immediate increase in strength and size. I grew like a weed. Every week, my body transformed. I went from a skinny, underdeveloped kid to a well built athlete. A year after that, I started to look more like a body builder.
It's been a quite some time, but when I think about it now, that was my turning point. I was lucky. Instead of going to the gym 6 days a week and doing endless sets of bench presses and not growing an inch, I stayed away and rested my body. I finally caught on to what the real secret to building muscle was.
Alright, What does my story have to do with the optimal workout schedule? Well, I wanted to point out that you don't have to spend anymore time than you have to at the gym in order to grow. There is no need to go to the gym 6 days a week and train 3 hours each workout. If you want to get big and muscular, train each body part once per week. That's it.
If you're dieting and training is right, that's all you need to grow. There's simply no need to train each body part two or three times per week. The only way this type of training will work is if you're taking in a lot of anabolic's (Which I don't recommend you do).
Take it from me, if you find your body is always tired and sore, take some time off and cut down on your gym time. Try going in 3 or 4 days a week.
Here's a good indicator for finding your optimal workout time. Let's say you are going to train arms today (Wednesday) but for some reason your triceps are killing you. Let's also say that you had a killer chest workout that past Monday. Your body is telling you that your triceps are not ready for the workout. At the minimum, you need another day of rest.
Let me say this loud and clear. Do not, I repeat, do not train a body part that is already sore. Your muscle is already damaged, why further that damage by training it again, possibly risking injury? Take another day or two to rest that body part.
If you listen to your body, you will find out when you need to train again.
To start, I strongly recommend that you train each body part once per week. From there your body will tell you when you need to train again (could be more or could be less). Remember, rest your body and you will grow a lot faster.
All the best,
As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.
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