Find out how many times to work out a body part each week. Is it once, twice, three times? Could you do it every day?
That question was posed to the hosts of the Mind Pump Podcast, an online radio show that talks all fitness related and, usually, is provocative. Its hosts are Sal Di Stefano, Adam Schafer, Justin Andrews, and Doug Egge. They also have a YouTube channel with more than 240k subscribers.
In this episode, they were questioned: “how many times to work out a body part each week?” Sal was the first one to jump on the microphone to answer because, according to him, often what studies say is not in sync with personal experiences.
“Studies typically last 12 weeks or something like that […] there is a little bit of self-selection bias for who signs up for the studies,” he explains, which does not resemble what they see in the gym as fitness coaches who’ve been on the job for years on end.
“The studies say that you need to train 1-3 days a week as long as the volume is the same, then you’re probably going to see similar results,” Sal says. In this case, according to studies, if you did 15 sets for biceps once a week or if you spread 15 sets over three workouts it wouldn’t make a difference. Sal disagrees with these findings in some studies.
”Probably 80% if not more of the people I work with do best by hitting their body parts between 2 and 4 days a week.
So to understand how many times to work out a body part each week, you need to know your limitations, your fitness level and how much you have trained before.
- Older people or those with less recovery ability – 2 days per week
- Most regular people – 3 days per week
- Advanced and fitter athletes – 4 days per week
On those days that you are hitting the gym, you will also want to limit the amount of training you do per body part. According to Sal Di Stefano, you should do between 9 and 21 sets per body part for the whole week.
Adam Schaefer said that, for him, working out 2 to 3 times per week is ideal, depending on the body part he is focusing on too. “My legs do better with 3 times a week, but I can do my arms twice a week and feel like I get plenty. So there is going to be that individual variance per person,” he explains.
It is important to keep in mind the real phenomenon of junk volume training, explained by Jeff Nippard. According to him, who also takes into consideration studies published around the world, you should keep to 6-8 sets per muscle group per training session to stimulate growth.
Ultimately, you need to make sure the muscles you will be working out on any given day have had plenty of time to recover from previous training days.
So, although the answer is not straightforward, now you know how many times to work out a body part each week and how much volume you should do. Experiment with what works best for you and make sure you are challenging your muscles every week to stimulate growth.