Build Muscle – How often to Work Out to Increase Muscle Mass

One of the most important questions that you need to ask when you are aiming to build muscle, is how often do you need to work out? First off, there is no simple answer. There is no one routine that can work for every person. So you have to get as much information as possible and know your own body to get the best result.

Before we get to a sample workout plan that will tell the frequency of your workouts in the simplest way possible, we have to start with providing information on how exactly muscles grow:

3 Factors of Muscle Building

Volkan Oezdemir flexes muscles Swiss flag

Photo by: BJ Penn

These are the 3 factors that are important if you want to build muscle fast. You have to take note of them and see if you are missing out on any of these;

1.      Increasing the Weight

When you are in the middle of weight training at the gym, you are in the middle of a process that is called progressive tension overload.

In simple words, this when you strain your muscles, increase tension and as a result, new muscle fibers are formed. During the whole process, you have to progressively increase the weight. Lifting the same amount of weight for extended times will not be beneficial for muscle gain.

2.      Muscle Damage

Nothing to be alarmed about, this is just another natural process that promotes muscle growth.

When you lift heavy weights, muscle fibers are damaged in the process. When the muscles rest they recover and all the damaged fibers are repaired and they become stronger to deal with your next weight training session.

3.      Taking Muscles to Limit

The last factor is putting calculated stress on the muscles and taking them to the limit.

This happens when you are using lower weights, doing higher reps and resting for a limited amount of time. This will exhaust the muscles and during the recovery period, the muscle will become stronger.

Rest Needed to Build Muscle

 Build Muscle

You must know this by now, your body’s ability to recover is rudimentary at best.

If it had superhero style recovery, then you would be able to work out as much as you want and your muscle fibers would continue to grow.

Unfortunately, you have to honor the human constraints and give your body time to rest.

You cannot train 7 days a week without feeling the ill effects of the exercises. At some point over working can start harming your muscles and bones.

But you also can’t work out just a couple of times a week. That would be counterproductive to your goals of gaining muscle mass.

You have to find a perfect balance between the two so you can build muscle without causing permanent damage to your body.

The Frequency

As we have mentioned, there is no one solution that fits all but the following information should help you figure out the frequency of your workouts.

Ideally, when you are performing 8-12 reps of exercises, doing 2-4 sets of 5-6 different exercises for each muscle group then you need time off in the middle of the week.

You can learn more about which muscle groups to target as a beginner here.

Here is a mock training program that you can try and see if it suits you. This plan is especially suitable for beginners;

  • Monday: Hamstrings and Quadriceps
  • Tuesday: Pectorals and Triceps
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Deltoids and Abdominal
  • Friday: Pectoral and Biceps
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

By following this plan you will avoid working out the same muscle group two days in a row, giving it ample time to recover.

The days off in the middle are also meant to give your muscles time to recover. You can do light training on the days off; cardio exercises is more preferable though.

Another thing to note here is that the muscle groups we have mentioned in the aforementioned plan are all those that beginners need to focus on. If you are a regular at the gym, then you will have to add other muscle groups to the plan. Avoid working out more than 3 muscle groups in a day because your body will be exhausted.

We hope that the information above will help you with your muscle building and fitness goals. The sample workout provided above is ideal and you can make small changes to it if required.