How To Choose Your Exercise Frequency?

weights-652488_1280The major elements you need to fix out while you are putting together all your exercise routine is your exercise frequency. Like, how many times or how often you are going to exercise in a week.

Even though there are tons of meaning for ‘exercise frequency’, here in this article we are going to classify it into three specific workout frequencies which we need to consider the most.

  • Weight Training Exercise Frequency

How many times or how often you can weight train in a week?

  • Overall Exercise Frequency

How many times or how frequently can we carry out different forms of workouts such as cardio, weight training etc. in a week?

  • Body Part or Muscle Group Exercise Frequency

How many times or how repeatedly you require training each of your body part or individual muscle group?

In Detail!!!

Weight Training Exercise Frequency

It is recommended that weight training workouts can be carried out for 3 to 4 times in a week and should keep in mind not to be done for more than 2 consecutive days.

In certain cases, people can get by with around 2 days, but some others can get away with 5. On the other hand, for majority of the population, positive results can be observed either within 3 or 4 total weight training exercise in a week.

This is mainly because most of the highly popular as well as cleverly designed workouts today are all based around three to four weight training programs performed each week. It should be also noted that you should not go for more than two weight training programs on consecutive days.

This workout proposal helps a person to have time for optimal recovery, which at its best will deliver the excellent results too.

Overall Exercise Frequency

The foremost thing is to decide on the frequency of workouts per week, which covers cardio workouts, weight training programs and other workouts.

But, this is the one which is subjected to the most variation as it depend on other factors associated with the person`s goal. For example, those fat guys with the ultimate target of reducing pounds may opt for 4 cardio workouts each week.

On the contrary, lean guys with the goal of improving muscle mass may not opt for cardio. However the common rule which everyone should strictly follow is to take a day break from all exercises, one day per week.

Muscle Group or Body Part Exercise Frequency

From the list of all different frequencies of various exercise regimes, one of the most discussed is how many and how often should you train your body part or muscle group per week. Not only this subject is discussed, but also they are argued, taken for thought process, messed up and by far the most confused.

Exercise Frequency for Each Muscle Group (Three Times In A Week)

It is usually claimed in history that during the pre-steroid era, bodybuilders used to train each of their body parts thrice per week.

Let’s not ignore that most lifters who belonged to that era trained with the main aim of gaining strength with mass gains considered as a side effect, rather than as an explicit target.

However, still the point to be noted here is that working out for strength gains taking in sufficient food tend to result in increase in size.

Whether they are ‘side-effect’ or not, do not make any change to the formula: Grow up strong and eat and you will develop your size.

The usual points in support for higher frequency of workouts are based around expression of genes as well as maintaining the genes caught up in hypertrophy by running very frequently during training.

With this type of training, typical full body exercises within a range of three exercises per each workout regime to eight or ten exercises per workout depending on certain explicit implementation are carried out.

With the increased frequency in training, the additional benefit obtained is the superior motor learning. Because the lion share of adaptations which occur in the beginning phase of training are neural by nature and hence the faster you get adapted, the sooner is the growth.

Besides the advantage from the above situation, the setbacks of doing full body training thrice per week come when trainees handle heavy loads. Training becomes hard to complete with heavy loads.

Also, the body takes its toll from heavy workouts which limit the ability for subsequent workouts.

Another thing to keep in mind is that heavy workout on logs will drain all energy to continue the rest of the exercise and keeping it to last will also make you suffer. Also avoid heavy back squatting when shoulders are tired post upper body workouts.

Blast All Muscle Group Once in Every Week

On the other side of the training is the thought which sprouted during the steroid era that a muscle group should be tested to its limits once in a week followed by rest before resuming the training again.

With this approach, typically either one or more muscle groups are selected for a solo workout with considerably hefty trainings on each muscle group. Most often they are 15 to 20 sets of three to four diverse workouts. Blitzing, hitting all of the angles and bombing of the muscles are the ideas of this approach.

In general, the body is divided across four or more workouts where every single muscle group gets exercised once in every seven days.

This approach is now very popular among the elite phase of bodybuilding and people forget the other factors involved such as the drugs which are mainly steroids. Even though people do not like to hear about drugs, the use of anabolic steroids has generated muscle growth with hardly any training or very limited training.

Yet other factor noticed is that, even if the creamy layer bodybuilders only hit each body part once in a week after they have restarted training which was stopped for more than 10 years, that’s often not the way they have achieved most of their muscular body.

On the whole, coming across the top level of any sportsperson and looking at how they train post 15 years of training is not an ideal proposition. What the sportsperson did during the zenith of their career and what they already did to be at the top are things on two different plates.

According to experienced trainers, few body parts may require two or more exercises with the exception of back. However doing lots of redundant and overlapping exercises does not have any point and is useless for trainees.

Hit Each Muscle Group (On Every Fifth Day and Twice In a Week)

This is the most preferred workout frequency for optimal results. In fact, for a normal trainee targeting each muscle group twice a week or every 5th day is expected to deliver positive results. However designing what is best for a particular person depends mainly on their individual recovery and how frequent they could be in gym.

In general, we might observe that the training frequency implemented is an upper/lower split routine. Also it’s worth mentioning that several successful workout regimes deploy the same kind of training frequency.

Majority of the power lifting exercises follow a generic template which covers two lower body and two upper body workouts each week. Even though the exercises could be different on each days, generally there is a satisfactory overlap that every muscle group is getting hit with a rate of twice in a week.


Most of the intelligent trainers around the world would recommend….

Once Per Week: This is really the least recommended frequency. If not your primary target is just to maintain your strength and current levels of strength rather than pushing them to new heights, you could follow this. For those targeting improvement in mass and strength, this training method should be avoided as it is very ineffective.

Three Times Per Week: This is very much recommend for beginners with the goal of increasing strength, building muscle and losing fat. We suggest following the whole body split which was explained already in this article.

Twice Per Week: This is highly popular workout frequency among majority of the bodybuilders. This ideal workout frequency has proved to be the best with people who target to build muscle, gain strength, lose fat, etc with the exception of beginners.

The same upper/lower split frequency mentioned above holds true here too.


Above we have mentioned some of the optimal exercise frequencies for muscle gain. It is suggested that, the benefits of full body training (3 times in a week) will help to equalize all the likely benefits regarding gene expression or in what you are having.

Even though many suggest to follow the training patterns of elite bodybuilders (every workout once in a week), it is always better to keep in mind that majority of the natural trainees won’t be simply getting optimal growth easily.

This is one of the major reasons why an athlete seems to be so successful regardless of the training.

This in turn points out that, ideal training frequencies for bodybuilders who are seeking optimal size gains can opt for somewhere between once in every fifth day and also twice weekly.

Thus it will bring in positive results for majority of the people, thereby offsetting the benefits of both the lower as well as higher training frequencies.

Anupama Pradeep

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