If you are all about that healthy lifestyle and are doing everything humanly possible to make your body change for the better, throughout your journey you may have run into several questions on how to optimize your body’s potential, as well as your own potential. We all aspire to have that perfect beach body, and some of us even aspire to just be stronger, maintain more energy and increase our own stamina, which we all know can be benefits from working out or lifting weights. One question that always arises through one’s body transformation journey is, “how often should we lift weights for the best results possible?”
Lifting weights is always an added routine that you should add to any regimen that you may have during your total body transformation, or even just as a daily health practice. Believe it or not, lifting weights can do more for you that just tone your body. Although, a hot bod is certainly desirable, lifting weights, or resistance training as some call it, has many benefits. It can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve cholesterol levels. However, with every good thing, comes a risk, and it’s no secret that too much of anything can be harmful, and the same thing can be said about too much weight lifting.
According to livestrong.com, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you should train each muscle group as a set. For example, arms, chest, shoulders, and legs, two or three times per week at light intensity, if you’re a senior or just starting out. If you’re more familiar with resistance training and have been doing it for a while, three or four days a week is recommended for a total body workout. According to bodybuilding.com, these sessions should be 30 minutes a session for a beginner. You can work out longer with weights, but they recommend to not over-train the muscle. They stand by three exercises per muscle group being plenty if you are advanced.
According to the site, if you weight train for more than 60 minutes, you’re probably doing one of two things, over-training or talking too much. Bodybuilding.com suggests that for a beginners’ regimen, training two times per week is fine, but three times per week is ideal. Bodybuilding.com encourages you to remember to not to exercise the same muscle group two days in a row, but you can lift weights two days in a row, as long as they are used for alternating muscle groups. If you like to weight train more than three days a week, it would be best to split the different muscle groups into different days.
Greatist.com says that “Research also makes the case for two or three weekly resistance workouts rather than one. One study examined the effects of three different strength training frequencies on 1,725 previously sedentary men and women. The one-day-per-week trainees added 0.7 pounds of lean weight, whereas both the two-days-per-week and three-days-per-week exercisers added 3.1 pounds of lean weight. Another study comparing different strength training frequencies on torso rotation muscle strength had similar results.” Greatist also says that fifteen minutes, twice a week, is the minimum amount individuals can strength train and still see results. It’s worth mentioning that while you may gain muscle weight, you can still lose plenty of inches, as muscle is denser than fatty tissue.
Livestrong.com also provides a recommended weekly schedule. The site says that if you’re experienced in weight training, try a split routine to give you a total resistance workout of three times per week. Space out your weight training by lifting weights on one day and resting the next, as this ensures that your muscles get a good chance to recover. For example, life weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, perform some moderate cardio exercise on Tuesday and Thursday, and take the weekend to completely rest your entire body, so that your body is ready and refreshed for the following week’s routine.
The American College of Sports Medicine, according to Livestrong, also recommends two or four sets of resistance training on each major body part (arms, legs, chest and shoulders). If you are under the age of 40, each set should contain eight to 12 prepositions with a weight that you can manage before it becomes a struggle to lift. For people over the age of 40, aim for 10 to 15 repetitions per set. This increase in reps is required because muscle mass is lost naturally as you age, and you will need to work harder to maintain and build muscle the older you become. The site further suggests that you should rest and allow your muscles to recover for at least 48 hours after your training session before you tackle your next one, to ensure that your muscles have time to repair. Bodybuiding.com further supports this by telling us that the actual growth of muscle tissue take place during recovery or rest. Depending on the individual, 24 – 48 hours is the time range of recuperation. During this time is when muscle soreness is inevitable. This is when our bodies are repairing the micro-tears in the exercised muscles. Try to get a good night’s sleep, because during this period is when the bodies hormones are increasing to compensate the stress of weight training. Never work the same muscle group two days in a row, and always let two days pass before exercising the same muscles.
If you are wondering about the benefits and dangers of weight lifting, livestrong.com offers some insight on that as well. According to the site, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that resistance training for increased strength can reduce symptoms of arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes. Strength training can also increase bone density, metabolic rate to aid weight loss due to energy consumption, and help you maintain a strong heart and overall cardiovascular system. On the other hand, according to the site, overtraining or lifting too often, with little or no rest in between can lead to damage of skeletal muscle and delayed onset muscle soreness.