The question many have regarding training is “How many days a week should one exercise to achieve results?” To achieve strength gains, one needs two important factors.
- The progressive resistive exercises need to stress the muscles maximally to stimulate physiological adaptation.
- Sufficient recovery time is needed to permit tissue repair and building without overcompensation, resulting in larger and stronger muscles.
A recent study revealed the affects of twice-a-week and three-times-a-week strength training on the participant’s body compensation. The findings revealed the three times a week exercisers gained 2.5 pounds of lean muscle weight and lost 4.6 pounds of fat weight.
Surprisingly,the men and women who trained twice a week for eight weeks experienced 88 % of the muscle gain and 87 % of the fat loss, compared to those who trained three times a week.
Another study involved three groups of adults and senior subjects with an average age of 50, who strength trained weekly, twice weekly and three days weekly for 10 weeks.
The three-day-per-week exercisers increased strength an average 21.2 %, while the once and-twice- weekly trainees increased strength 15.5 %. The once-and-twice-weekly trainees gained 73 % as much strength improvement as the three-day trainees.
Studies have shown strength gains in beginners are less, possibly because of the large motor learning components.
Increases in muscle strength may be more dependent on training frequency than on improvements in body composition. Therefore, beginners probably should strength train three times a week for 6-8 weeks before considering decreasing to one or two times a week.
Due to busy schedules, individuals may want to consider different strength training options. However, as noted earlier, strength training needs to stress muscles maximally while progressing the resistance. Using the same weights for each session will not obtain significant results over time.
One may want to discuss their strength-training goals with a sports trainer or physical therapist to determine the best frequency of exercise. A well-balanced conditioning program needs strength training along with flexibility and endurance (aerobic exercises).