The number of days a week that you should train depends on a lot of different factors. The most important being what your goals are and how seriously you take the strength game.
You can get some decent results from just training 3 days a week if you make each and every gym session really count. Newbies could train even more. Back when I first got involved in weight lifting, I trained a minimum of 5 days a week, and there were stretches where I’d be in the gym for all 7 days of the week. Now, this shouldn’t be the norm because it simply isn’t sustainable. My youth and relative inexperience allowed me to do this. Eventually, lifting at that rate probably would have led me to injury and burnout.
So what is the proper balance?
To get the best results, I’d lift weights for a minimum of 4 days a week (no more than 5) using an Upper/Lower split. Why this split? I believe this is the best rubric for adding on muscle and gaining strength for most men and women out there. Want the details? Check them out here.
Your schedule should look something like this:
Monday, Thursday – Upper
Tuesday, Friday – Lower
Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday – Rest
This is one of my favorite templates to use and I rarely stray from it. Over the summer, I’ll do one session over the weekend concentrating on strongman implements and building real world strength. With this template, I get a full 48 hours rest in between upper and lower workouts and 2-3 rest days a week.
Now these schedules do not include cardio sessions, such as your hill sprints or sled work. These could be done on any day you choose, but you really only need to do a couple of sessions a week to keep your body fat percentage down. If you are currently trying to cut some fat, you may benefit from adding in an additional session or two (for a weekly total of 3-4), but do not overdo it. Try and schedule these sessions around your rest days, so you are getting enough recovery time.
Quick Tip: Two a days are awesome to fit your cardio in. If you are doing it right, you only need about 20 minutes of high intensity cardio, so wake up earlier and get it done first thing in the morning and then hit the gym later in the day. This has worked for me and is a great way to make sure my rest days are spent actually resting.
So let’s wrap this up and finish in simple terms. Here is the bottom line.
Nobody ever got good at anything by just practicing a couple times a week. The same principle goes for weight lifting and making a change in your body. Want to make a transformation? You need to train frequently enough to force your body to adapt.
If you want to really maximize your potential, 4 times a week with an Upper/Lower split is where you should live. Four intense sessions with 3 days of rest is a killer rubric.
4 days, 4 hours a week. No excuses.