How Many Days a Week Should I Lift Weights?

A Guest Post by David Williams from A Lean Life If you are like most people who have an interest in fitness and well-being, you have likely wondered “How many days a week should I lift weights?” This is an important question and one that is often misunderstood. And like many things related to fitness, it is a personal decision based on your fitness goals. So to answer this question, you first need to clarify and identify your fitness goals. If your goal is to become a competitive bodybuilder, that will likely require four or more days a week in the gym.  However, if you are living a normal, working life and trying to get fit and lean, then two days a week are all you need in the gym to achieve your fitness goals.

Keep the Process Simple

Many fitness gurus over complicate the process of getting lean and getting fit, which is why many people lose interest. They throw their arms and think, “Gosh who has time for all that!” This might, in part, explain the obesity epidemic in Western countries.  For the first time ever, the obesity rate in the United States is more than 40% in 2020. And it has increased 10% in the last 20 years. These are staggering numbers indeed, and present an ever-growing burden on our healthcare system. Therefore, it’s best to keep the process simple, so that it fits well into your working life. And two days a week are all that are required to build lean muscle and get in great shape. 

A Simple and Effective Workout Schedule

Here is a simple and very effective workout schedule that fits well into nearly any working person’s life: (1) A-day, (1) B-day A-days Chest Shoulders Triceps B-days Back Biceps Abs Legs Aim for 2-3 sets for each muscle group, and 6-15 reps per set. Each day, A and B, can be done in 30-60 minutes in the gym, so it can fit into almost any busy schedule. This workout schedule is sustainable for the long term, which is one of the most important factors!

Intensity is Key in Your Workouts

The key is to make these two days count. Make sure you are doing good resistance training and pushing yourself with enough intensity to build your muscles. If you do this each week, then most weeks your muscles will be sore for a few days. This is a good sign and tells you that your muscles are building and getting stronger. If you’re a beginner, then start very slowly. You want to be very cautious out of the gate, to ensure you avoid a workout injury. So start with very light weights, and gradually increase the intensity over time. And building lean muscle is one of the very best ways to get lean for the long haul. Muscle burns more two to three times more calories than fat. So if you add muscle to your frame then your body will be more proficient at burning fat, even when not working out.

Eat a Nutritious and Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is paramount to building lean muscle. If you’re going to put in the effort in the gym, make sure you feed your muscles with healthy food to maximize these efforts! Make sure to eat lots of veggies, whole grains, lean meats, healthy fats, and healthy snacks. Here are a few items as an example of a healthy diet: LEAN MEATS Chicken Breast (skinless) Sirloin Steak (look for “loin”) HEALTHY FRUITS Avocado Blueberries Strawberries HEALTHY VEGETABLES Broccoli Kale Spinach COMPLEX CARBS Bread (must say “100% Whole Wheat”) Brown Rice Oatmeal Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) NUTS & OILS Olive Oil Walnuts HEALTHY SNACKS / MISCELLANEOUS Low-Carb Wraps Protein Bars

Plan Your Workout Schedule Around Your Cheat Days

We all have cheat days when we like to pig out on our favorite foods. It’s part of life. And if you try to deny yourself a cheat day or two each week, you’ll likely not be able to sustain your routine.  You need a cheat day a week for mental sanity. Just keep these days to one or two days a week. And the key is to keep them under control. If not, you can throw away a week of clean eating in two days. If possible, schedule your lifting days around your cheat days. This will help you to burn more calories, and also really fuel your muscles in the gym. For most people, cheat days are on the weekend, so maybe plan your lifting days on Friday and Saturday. This way, your body will have more energy to improve intensity.

The Importance of Cardio

The biggest challenge most people have in their fitness journey is weight control. Lifting weights is an important factor in getting lean, but also important is doing frequent cardio. This is key to losing weight and getting fit. There are many other cardio benefits, but one of the most important is losing fat. If you do cardio on a near-daily basis, then over time you will likely be able to get lean.  The combined effect of lifting weights two days a week plus doing frequent cardio is a powerhouse combination. And this routine is simple, but it’s not easy. But by doing this you’ll be in the top 10% of adults in terms of their fitness schedule.

Wrapping it All Up

So when you ask yourself how many days a week should I lift weights, it’s best to keep it simple. This way it will fit into your busy schedule, and more importantly, it will be sustainable for the long term. Two days a week are all you really need to do resistance training to get lean, get fit, and feel great.

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