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How many days per week should you train to build muscle?Updated a year ago

Whether you’re just getting started in the gym, or you’ve been an avid lifter for years … you may be wondering “How many days a week should I work out to build muscle?”

When I first started training, I would go into the gym and demolish one muscle group for 2+ hours at a time. I thought that I could go in and hit one thing hard every day of the week. Well, that may have worked for a bit when I was young. Sadly, not anymore.

Eventually, my results slowed down, and the nagging injuries piled up. That’s when I decided it was time to educate myself a bit more.

Over the years, the information about building muscle has always been evolving. When it comes to working out to build muscle, recent research has shown that building muscle is about more than just how many days a week you work out.

Believe it or not, how often you train a muscle group may play a big role too (1). But, how many days should you work out per week to build muscle? Also, how should you split these workouts up? Keep reading and we'll dive into this topic in detail.


Before we get into the meat and potatoes, it’s important that you know how muscle is built. Here are the 3 factors that elicit hypertrophy (i.e. Muscle Growth).


When you physically work a muscle, you create muscle damage, which is called microtrauma or microtears. When this happens repetitively, our body is forced to adapt by building that tissue back bigger and stronger.


When we do resistance training with higher volume, there is a buildup of metabolites, such as lactate, inorganic phosphate, hydrogen, and more. This causes a rise in anabolic hormones, cell swelling, and hypoxia ... which all result in muscle growth.


This refers to the amount of force or tension exerted by a muscle. These are the hard reps where you feel like you might fail. This tension results in chemical changes in the muscle, which leads to an increase in muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is really just a fancy way of saying “the muscle-building process.”

I know this is quite a bit of information here, but it’s important to note that building muscle is all about balancing hard training, volume, and recovery.

If you can get the perfect mix of these factors, technically, it wouldn’t matter how many days you work out. The more you apply stimulus to the muscle though, the more muscle you can build. However, you have to do this without hindering recovery as well.


If you walk into a regular gym, most of the lifters either just go in and wing it, or follow a traditional bodybuilding routine. This is where you train each muscle group once a week.

With this approach, you focus on one or two muscle groups per day and work out four to five days a week. This is pretty spot on when it comes to the number of days recommended too. Most experts recommend training 3-5 days a week for an ideal balance between rest and work.

While this type of program will usually have a greater total volume per session … it won’t allow you to stimulate the same muscle groups multiple times a week.

As I said earlier, recent studies suggest that working out each muscle group two or three times a week is ideal for building muscle (1). This workout plan divides the training into either full-body or lower and upper-body workout sessions. This way, you can hit each muscle group twice a week without needing to increase the number of days that you train.

But remember, you still need adequate rest in order to build new muscle as well. So, if you train too much in a week’s time, you could actually slow your progress.

That said, following a routine like this can be more effective for increasing muscle mass, as this schedule allows for more time to recover between workouts with fewer sets.


So, we know that training with more frequency may be more beneficial for building muscle. We also know that 3-5 days of workouts is an ideal balance for rest.

No matter how many days a week you train a muscle, you need to be consistent with the plan and put in the work. Sorry to all my gym-bros out there who like to pick up weights every day, but it’s the truth.

At the same time ... when it comes to building muscle, it’s nearly impossible to out-science the hard work.

If you think about it … hard work is part of the science! You have to push your body to get it to create new adaptations. Never forget the power of pushing yourself!

With that, even if you've found the "perfect" training routine for your goals, that's only part of the equation. Without fueling your body adequately through your nutrition plan, and then getting the rest you need for proper recovery ... it doesn't matter which workout program you follow, because you likely won't build much muscle.


As with many other habits, how many days you should work out ultimately depends on your specific health goals. This applies to everything from building muscle to improving cardiovascular health and everything in between.

If you are wondering how many days you should work out, first determine your goals and what you can fit into your schedule.

If you’re exercising to lose weight, it’s recommended to get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio throughout the week (2).

The general rule for improving cardiovascular fitness is to focus on cardio exercises three to five days a week. Similarly, experts recommend strength training three to five days a week to build muscle.

Remember: the best plan is always the one that you can stick with. Make a realistic plan, train hard, and dedicate your time to recovery. These are what I would consider to be the most important pieces.

Take a second to figure out how many days a week you can realistically commit to in the gym and aim to train each muscle group 1-2 times every 7 days. That’s the answer you’re looking for.


There are virtually endless ways to split up a week of workouts, but let’s take a look at a few tried and true routines that fit the 3, 4, and 5 days per week windows.


• Push / Pull / Legs
• Full Body / Full Body / Full Body
• Chest & Back / Shoulders & Arms / Legs


• Upper Body / Lower Body / Upper Body / Lower Body
• Chest & Back / Quads & Calves / Shoulders & Arms / Glutes & Hamstrings
• Push / Pull / Legs / Arms


9 Great Upper Body Exercises

• Chest / Back / Shoulders / Legs / Arms
• Upper Body / Lower Body / Push / Pull / Legs
• Chest & Biceps / Quads & Calves / Back & Triceps / Glutes & Hamstrings / Shoulders & Arms

This is just a handful of the many different splits you can do. When you really break it down, you can build muscle with any of these splits if you put in the work and stay consistent.


As I said earlier, you also need to be eating enough of the right foods consistently. After all, gaining weight and building muscle requires enough protein and calories.

We understand how difficult and confusing it can be when it comes to building muscle. That’s why we designed a resource to help you with all things training, nutrition, and supplementation.

The tool I’m talking about is the 1st Phorm App. The app offers an all-in-one space for nutrition coaching, supplementation advice, and training programs for any goal.

Even all of that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the 1st Phorm App has to offer. But, even if you’re not ready to download the app, we’re always here to help.

You can also reach out to our team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches who will point you in the right direction. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at [email protected] anytime!


(1) Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 46(11), 1689–1697. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0543-8

(2) Yang, Yun Jun. “An Overview of Current Physical Activity Recommendations in Primary Care.” Korean journal of family medicine vol. 40,3 (2019): 135-142. doi:10.4082/kjfm.19.0038

(3) Miller, B. F., Olesen, J. L., Hansen, M., Døssing, S., Crameri, R. M., Welling, R. J., Langberg, H., Flyvbjerg, A., Kjaer, M., Babraj, J. A., Smith, K. J., & Rennie, M. J. (2005). Coordinated collagen and muscle protein synthesis in human patella tendon and quadriceps muscle after exercise. The Journal of Physiology, 567(3), 1021–1033. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2005.093690

(4) Mangine, G. T., Hoffman, J. R., Gonzalez, A. M., Townsend, J. R., Wells, A. J., Jajtner, A. R., Beyer, K. S., Boone, C. H., Miramonti, A. A., Wang, R., LaMonica, M. B., Fukuda, D. H., Ratamess, N. A., & Stout, J. R. (2015). The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiological Reports, 3(8), e12472. https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.12472

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