If you’ve decided to take up weight lifting, you may be completely baffled by the many different ways to train; the conflicting reports on just about everything from nutrition, to training methods, to how often to lift. In this article, I’d like to address the issue of how often a person should lift for optimal results.
I remember when I first started out. I simply assumed that to get a good physique, I had to lift every single day, and for hours on end. I guess it’s only natural to think this way – more equals more, right? Especially when there are guys at the gym built like the Incredible Hulk who never seem to go home.
What I learned was quite the opposite. For most of us, a relatively short, sharp shock to our muscles is all that is required to spare growth on – and any more is not only unnecessary, but can also be detrimental and reverse our progress through overtraining.
It isn’t about how long you lift; it’s about the intensity with which you lift. Let me give an example. A guy who works out at the gym for 3 hours lifting. He doesn’t lift too heavy (who could for 3 hours?) and spends a lot of time in between sets resting – say 10 minutes between each set. The guy gradually becomes fatigued, but, never completely – simply because he’s taking his time… big time.
Then we’ve another guy, who lifts heavier, and takes maybe 3 minutes maximum between sets. This guy is in the gym, and out of the gym, within an hour, max. Not only does he become extremely fatigued, but maybe even fails during his exercises because of his very condensed effort.
Who is training the right way?
In my opinion – it’s the guy who hits it hardest, with the most intensity, for the shorter period of time. It’s all about maximum work in minimum time. Intensity. This guy can now go home and crack on with the rest of his day knowing he has done exactly what is required to make his muscles grow… and not overdone it so that his muscles won’t recover quickly. Meanwhile the other guy is still lugging weight for 2 more hours, and probably won’t recover for a week. Go figure.
Just for the record – many guys do benefit from longer sessions of maybe 2 hours and more – but seldom will they be new trainees, but advanced lifters and likely users of steroids which help them to lift longer and recover faster.