Fitness is easy and then it isn’t. Sounds like a contradictory statement.
And it is because fitness on the surface seems conceptually elementary. However, if you open the hood and take a deeper look inside, you’ll quickly see that there are a multitude of small nuances in fitness that can easily get confusing.
One of the biggest nuances involves strength training. It’s safe to say that the majority of the population understands that it’s beneficial for a multitude of reasons.
But, there’s a huge difference between conceptually understanding something and putting it into practice. When it comes to strength training, there’s a huge discrepancy and gap between those who lift weights and those who don’t. In this particular study, it was estimated that twenty-one percent of adults strength train 2x per week which is probably on the generous end.
The more common scenario involves someone with a gym membership that solely performs cardio activities.
With all of this said, debating between various training splits such as 3-days-per-week or 4-days-per-week or even more days-per-week is prematurely jumping the gun. Before even considering the type of split, it’s imperative to understand why frequency week-in and week-out is of importance.
When it comes to maximizing your results in the gym and with your body, here are four reasons why frequency must be prioritized.
1. You’ll decrease your chances of injury
One of the biggest barriers to stopping someone from losing weight, improving in their sport, and accomplishing any other fitness goal is staying healthy.
Freak accidents happen but they only consist of maybe five percent of the injury spectrum. Everything else is mostly under our control.
By lifting weights frequently, your chances of injury decrease because you’re consistently strengthening areas that would otherwise be susceptible to injury.
Think about this, if you only train a muscle group or workout once per week, there’s an internal drive (and pressure) to go balls-to-the-wall. After all, you won’t be back for another week which means you need to make the most of it.
Since you want to make the most of your training session, you’re likelier to train to failure or go heavier than you should be.
However, if you know that you’re going to train chest, for example, two more times that week, it becomes much easier psychologically to stay within your limits since you have another crack at later in the week.
If you happen to be a person who may possess a tendency to go all out with training, then an easy to save yourself from potential injury is to control your volume by using full body workouts.
You’ll reduce your chances of overtraining along with approaching your programming from a balanced standpoint. If electing to do full body training, three days is an awesome sweet spot.
2. You’ll increase your strength and skill
Often times, improving at any skill, rather in the weight room or even learning how to play an instrument comes down to repeated exposure of the desired skill.
The easiest way to improve at the gym is to increase your training frequency. If you want to improve your chest, train it more frequently (while still being smart about it). Increasing your frequency of specific lifts or working muscle groups leads to each session feeling more and more like a practice session which is a psychological relief.
More importantly, you’re going to develop “muscle memory” which is a fancy way of saying that you’re going to improve on your technique through repeated usage.
Take a deadlift for example, which is one of the more challenging lifts for people to grasp. Doing this at the beginning will feel uncomfortable, but after a few times, your form will improve along with your effectiveness.
3. You’ll build consistency which carries over into other aspects of your life
One of the biggest hurdles to frequently working out is time management. “I don’t have enough time” is one of the most popular excuses that will never go away.
With that in mind, a big step for many new gym goers looking to become more consistent is to allocate time to their busy schedules to train.
This might sound counterintuitive, but training more frequently is beneficial for this type of person because it puts the habit of lifting weights on the fast track to becoming a permanent fixture in their life.
As you build this habit up, you’re also becoming more organize and discipline which are beneficial traits applicable to succeeding in multiple areas of life.
4. You’ll improve every aspect of your health
Physical training three times per week for six months can lead to a reduction in your oxidative stress levels which is of importance since it can decrease your chances of cancer.
How many days should you strength train?
While deciding on the number of days is important, the more important question is to determine how much training you can specifically recover from?
Strength training breaks the body down, but the recovery process is where you build it back up and thus allow a stronger body to manifest.
Nevertheless, here are some initial factors to consider when deciding on the frequency of days to lift weekly.
• Training experience
• Chronological Age
• Quality and quantity of sleep
• Hormonal status
• Family stress (partner, children, friends, etc)
• Work-related stress
• Money-related stress
• Nutritional habits
• Current levels of motivation