The Best Training Frequency for Building Muscle (According to 20 Studies)

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Discover the training frequency for building muscle, maximizing muscle growth, and reaching your fitness goals faster. Unleash your full potential now!

Are you tired of spending endless hours at the gym determining the best training frequency for maximum muscle gains? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve researched, so you don’t have to. In a comprehensive analysis of 20 studies by renowned fitness expert Brad Schoenfeld and his team, we’ve uncovered the secrets to optimizing your workouts.

But first, let’s cut to the chase. The short answer: there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, fear not! This article will guide you through the maze of training frequencies and help you find what works best for you.

Now, imagine this: a bench-pressing unicorn named Bob magically appears during your workout sessions to offer advice on optimal training volume and rest days per week. Okay, maybe not that magical, but close enough!

Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of resistance training frequencies and explore how they can make a noticeable difference in your muscle growth and strength gains. Get ready to uncover surprising insights backed by science, laugh at witty anecdotes, and discover your ideal training frequency for achieving those swole goals.

So grab your dumbbells (or unicorns), and let’s embark on this playful journey together!

The Basics: Workouts and Exercises

Before delving into training frequencies, it is essential to establish a foundation by understanding workouts and exercises. A workout refers to a session of physical activity aimed at improving fitness or achieving specific goals. On the other hand, exercises are particular movements or actions performed during a workout that target different muscles.

Training Frequencies: What’s the Difference?

Training frequency refers to how often you engage in weekly workouts or exercise sessions. Different individuals may follow various training frequencies based on their goals and preferences. Some people prefer working out multiple times per week, while others opt for fewer sessions with higher intensity.

Analyzing Training Volume

Brad Schoenfeld, an authority in resistance training studies and muscle growth analysis, researched the impact of resistance training frequency on muscle growth and strength gains. Through systematic review and meta-analysis, Schoenfeld analyzed various studies involving different subjects – from beginners to well-trained men – to determine optimal training frequencies.

Understanding Training Frequency Effects

The effects of resistance training frequency vary depending on several factors, such as individual genetics, previous training history, rest periods between workouts, range of motion (ROM), sets per week, intensity level, and exercise selection. To gain a comprehensive understanding of these effects on muscle growth and strength gains effectively requires careful analysis.

The Major Muscle Groups

When considering high-frequency training for muscle development, it is important to target all major muscles adequately. This includes the chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and core muscles. You can maximize growth potential by incorporating exercises that stimulate these muscles in your workout routine.

Weekly Training Volume and Frequency

Training volume is the total work performed during a training session or week. Weekly training volume is determined by multiplying the number of sets, reps, and weights lifted per exercise. Training frequency and weekly volume are crucial in muscle growth and strength gains.

Training Muscle: Full-Body Workouts vs. Split Routines

One aspect to consider when discussing training frequency is the choice between full-body workouts and split routines. Full-body workouts involve targeting all major muscle groups in each session. In comparison, split routines divide workouts into muscle groups on different days.

Research published in Sports Med by Schoenfeld et al. examined the effects of different weekly training frequencies on muscle growth and strength gains[^5^]. The study compared once-weekly and twice-weekly strength training sessions for untrained subjects over 11 weeks. They found that higher-frequency training resulted in greater increases in muscle mass compared to lower-frequency training.

The Ideal Training Frequency for Beginners

For beginners starting their fitness journey, starting with 2–3 full-body workouts per week is recommended. This allows for adequate recovery time while providing sufficient muscle growth stimulus. As beginners typically have less resistance training experience, mastering proper form and technique is crucial.

The Role of Rest Days

Rest days play a vital role in any workout routine, allowing muscles to recover from intense workouts. Depending on individual preferences and goals, rest days can be scheduled throughout the week to provide ample time for recovery before engaging in further exercise.

Training Intensity: Rep Ranges and Resistance

When considering training frequency, it is also important to consider training intensity. This includes the number of repetitions (reps) performed per set and the amount of resistance used. Different rep ranges and resistance levels can target muscles differently, affecting muscle growth and strength gains.

The Influence of Frequency on Muscle Mass

A study published in J. Appl. Physiol. examined the influence of training frequency on muscle mass and strength gains in well-trained men[^8^]. The researchers compared once-weekly with three times weekly strength training sessions over 8 weeks. They found that higher-frequency training resulted in greater increases in muscle cross-sectional area compared to lower-frequency training.

Optimizing Training Frequency for Advanced Weightlifters

A higher training frequency may benefit advanced weightlifters looking to optimize their workouts. This could involve implementing a 4-day split routine or more frequent full-body workouts throughout the week[^9^]. However, it is essential to note that individual variations exist, and preferences should be considered.

Resistance Training Studies: Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are valuable tools better to understand the relationship between training frequency and muscle growth. These studies analyze multiple research papers on similar topics, allowing for more comprehensive conclusions.

Effects of Increased Weekly Volume

When considering increased weekly volume through higher training frequencies, monitoring progress closely while being mindful of potential overtraining risks is crucial. Gradual weekly volume increases can provide adequate stimulus for muscle growth without overwhelming the body’s ability to recover.

Once-Weekly vs. Twice-Weekly Strength Training

Another study published by Schoenfeld et al. explored the effects of once-weekly versus twice-weekly strength training sessions on muscular strength gains. The researchers found that both groups experienced significant improvements in muscular strength; however, there was no statistically significant difference between them.

Isolation Exercises: Supplementing Full-Body Workouts

While full-body workouts provide a comprehensive approach to muscle growth, incorporating isolation exercises can target specific muscles in greater detail. Exercises such as lateral raises for shoulders or leg extensions for quadriceps can be added to supplement full-body routines.

The Importance of Proper Form and Technique

Regardless of training frequency, it is crucial to prioritize proper form and technique during exercises. This reduces the risk of injury and ensures the targeted muscles are effectively engaged. Beginners, in particular, should emphasize learning the correct form before progressing to higher frequencies or more intense workouts.

Cardiovascular Exercise: Balancing with Resistance Training

In addition to resistance training, cardiovascular exercise is essential to overall fitness. While training frequency for resistance exercises is key for muscle growth, finding a balance between resistance training and aerobic exercise is essential for achieving optimal results.

Official Exercise Dosing Recommendations

The American College of Sports Medicine provides official exercise dosing recommendations for healthy adults. These guidelines suggest engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 75 minutes per week.

Once-Weekly Resistance Exercise Intervention

A study published in J. Sports Med examined the effects of once-a-week resistance exercise intervention on body composition and muscular strength gain. The researchers found that performing all sets of resistance exercises once weekly significantly improved body composition and muscular strength.

Preferred Exercise Frequency: Balancing Time and Progression

Finding the preferred exercise frequency involves balancing available time with progression goals. Some individuals prefer more frequent, shorter workouts, while others opt for fewer but longer sessions. The key is to find a frequency that allows for consistent progress without interfering with other responsibilities or causing burnout.

Genetic Differences: Impact on Muscle Growth Rate

It’s important to acknowledge that genetic differences influence an individual’s rate of muscle growth. While some people may respond better to higher training frequencies, others might thrive with lower frequencies. Experimentation and monitoring personal progress can help determine the ideal training frequency for each individual.

Post-Intervention Strength Differences

Post-intervention strength differences are often assessed to evaluate the effectiveness of various training frequencies. This involves comparing strength gains between groups or interventions to determine statistical significance and practical relevance.

Random Effects Analysis: A Statistical Tool

Random-effects analysis is a statistical tool commonly used in exercise science research to examine the effects of different interventions on muscle growth and performance. This type of analysis helps identify common trends or variations within studies, offering valuable insights into the relationship between training frequency and outcomes.

Muscle Growth Adaptations: Detraining Periods

Muscle growth adaptations are not static but can vary throughout an individual’s fitness journey. Detraining periods, during which regular workouts are reduced or ceased, can temporarily impact muscle mass gains. However, once regular training resumes, previous gains can be regained more quickly than starting from scratch.

Combining Multi-Joint and Isolation Exercises

When designing a workout routine, combining multi-joint exercises (e.g., squats, deadlifts) with isolation exercises (e.g., bicep curls and tricep extensions) is essential for balanced muscle development. Multi-joint exercises target multiple muscles simultaneously, while isolation exercises focus on specific muscles in greater detail.

Tailored Routines for Beginners

For beginners starting their resistance training journey, it is recommended to follow tailored routines explicitly designed for their needs. These routines usually involve full-body workouts two to three times per week to ensure proper stimulus while minimizing the risk of injury.

Customizable Workout Programs for Advanced Lifters

Advanced lifters with specific goals may benefit from customizable workout programs catering to their needs. These programs often allow for greater flexibility in training frequency and exercise selection, ensuring continued progress while keeping the workouts engaging and challenging.

Incorporating Extra Workout Days

Incorporating an extra workout day can benefit individuals looking to increase training frequency without overloading specific muscle groups. This allows additional volume and recovery time between sessions targeting the same muscles, promoting balanced muscle growth and minimizing potential overuse injuries.

Maximizing Muscle Growth: Optimal Training Frequency

Finding the optimal training frequency for maximizing muscle growth involves experimentation and individualization. While scientific studies provide valuable insights, listening to your body’s response to different frequencies and monitoring progress is critical to determining what works best.


What is the recommended training frequency?
According to 20 studies, it is best to train each muscle group 2-3 times per week.

How many rest days should I have between workouts?
To optimize muscle growth, it is recommended to have at least one rest day between workouts.

Can I train the same muscle group every day?
No, it is not advisable to train the same muscle group every day as it may lead to overtraining and injury.

Is it better to do full-body workouts or split routines?
Both full-body workouts and split routines can be effective, but it depends on your goals and preferences.

Should I change my training frequency over time?
It is recommended to periodically vary your training frequency to prevent plateauing and keep making progress.


Training frequency plays a crucial role in building muscle and achieving strength gains. Through careful analysis of various resistance training studies, it becomes evident that higher training frequencies generally lead to more significant muscle growth. However, individual factors such as genetics, experience level, personal preferences, and recovery capacity must also be considered when determining the ideal training frequency for each person. Individuals can tailor their workout routines to achieve their desired results by understanding the relationship between training frequency and muscle growth.

Consistency, proper form and technique, appropriate rest days, and a balanced approach combining resistance training with cardiovascular exercise is essential to any successful fitness journey. With these principles in mind, anyone can embark on a path toward building muscle effectively and efficiently.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical or professional advice. Before starting any new exercise program, consult a qualified fitness professional or healthcare provider.