How Many Days A Week Should I Workout To Build Muscle?

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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How many days a week should I workout to build muscle? If you’re wondering that it may mean that you are stuck in a rut at the gym.

Feeling like your efforts never seem to get results? 

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You might not be hitting the gym hard enough! The age-old question of how many days per week I should work out to build muscle is one that has been debated for decades. 

If you’re serious about reaching those fitness goals and transforming your body quickly, it might just be time for you to step up … or decrease, the frequency of your workouts. 

We will look into the ideal frequency for building muscle during this blog post, and we’ll answer questions such as:

  1. How many days a week should i workout to build muscle?
  2. Is working out 5 days a week too much?
  3. Is working out 6 days a week too much?
  4. How long should you workout to build muscle?

Key Concepts Of Hypertrophy

If you’re looking to build your muscles, there’s no shortage of information out there, from trends in equipment to the latest celebrity workouts. 

While all this information can be helpful in some aspects, when it comes down to it, there are really only a couple key concepts to abide by when constructing your own workout split. 

These concepts provide the foundations for getting the most out of your workouts while promoting muscle growth, ensuring that you go into each workout with a plan and achieve optimal results every time. 

Knowing these concepts makes it easier to create a detailed plan on how to construct an effective workout split, helping you get closer to reaching your fitness goals.

Let’s have a look at the fundamentals.

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Progressive Overload

Progressive overload (PO) is a fundamental, and handy concept for those of us looking to make gains in the gym. 

Basically, it involves gradually increasing the amount of resistance we put on our muscles over time. 

This means upping the weight in our reps week by week, pushing ourselves further than before each session. 

It’s not a quick fix, though, just a fundamental thing.

This process can take months or even years to get noticeable results, especially if we increase slowly enough so that our bodies have time to adjust and truly benefit from the extra strain. 

But if we persevere with progressive overload, and make it a core concept in our training, we could find ourselves with serious improvements and better shape!

Quality Training Volume

If you are looking to build muscle, it may sound counterintuitive that doing more work is essential, yet that is precisely the case. 

Quality volume is key to your success as you look to build your muscle mass. 

This means challenging, working sets that take you close to failure, or in other words, with just a few reps left in reserve. 

Of course, this means balancing rest between sets and pushing yourself without overexerting – a sensible approach of pushing just enough, yet not too much. 

Careful consideration of the training split is essential here.

Hint: Training frequency can have a major impact on your total quality training volume.

This should help you knowing how many days a week should I workout to build muscle?

Rest Times

Have you ever wondered why your workout feels harder than it should? 

The answer might lie in the amount of rest time taken between sets. 

The conventional urge to take only a minute or two just to catch your breath between sets can be counterproductive. 

Instead, aiming for 2-3 minutes of rest time in between can refine performance by improving the quality of movement, reducing fatigue, and decreasing muscle soreness during and after workouts. 

Taking these extra few moments of rest will ultimately help you get the most out of your workout, allowing you to cover more ground with better results.

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This is the number one way to optimize performance and maximize quality training volume, within the workout itself.

So to answer the question – how long should you workout to build muscle? The answer is simple – as long as it takes for you to complete the number of sets, without compromising performance.

Intra-Workout Declining Performance

Many of us have experienced that feeling of hitting a wall during long workouts. 

Despite our best efforts to continue, we find our performance gradually decreasing until even the smallest task feels like an insurmountable struggle. 

Though it can be disheartening to experience such a drop in performance, understanding what’s happening makes it easier to make compensations and optimize your training split.

Now, as we just said, the first step to optimizing performance is through dialing in rest times between sets.

The second step, which is perhaps even more important? 

Optimizing training frequency.

Think of it this way – if you have 15 total challenging, working sets for your chest for the week, and do them in one single workout, odds are your performance will start to suffer somewhere around the 5-7th set, due to fatigue.

You may start with an X amount of weight for an X amount of repetitions, but eventually, you’d have to decrease the weight, reps, or both.

However, if you split this total training volume of 15 working sets into 2-3 workouts, that means doing 5-7 hard sets per workout.

With this approach, you’d still do 15 total sets, but odds are that you’ll have a higher total output, because you come in fresh as a cucumber on each time you have to do that work.

In other words, distributing a higher number of sets throughout more, separate workouts, allows you to lift heavier weights for more repetitions, thus creating a bigger volume of greater quality, providing a better stimulus for growth.

It’s kind of like the concept of rest times between sets, but on a greater scale – rest times between workouts.

Pretty cool, huh? 

Recovery Windows

Taking a break in between direct training sessions of a muscle group just makes sense – it’s like giving you and your muscles a chance to “catch their breath”. 

After all, getting fit is no sprint. It’s a marathon! 

You’ve trained hard; you’ve pushed your body to the limit. Why not step back, take some time off, and let your muscles relax and adapt in order to come back stronger? 

Hard work pays off! 

Make sure to give yourself sufficient rest times – 48-96 hours – before going at it again. 

For instance, if you do 5 sets for your chest on Monday, do 5 more on Wednesday, or Thursday.

On a larger scale, say over a year, that extra volume will stack up and trust us when we tell you – you will reap massive gains.

Tips For Building A Split

Creating the perfect training split can be intimidating for any fitness enthusiast. 

Fortunately, there are a couple of reliable rules to follow when building it. 

And yes… These rules are based on what we just said, so let us lay it out for you!

Determine Volume

Sports science suggests that optimal training volume per muscle group, per week, varies between 5 and 20 sets.

This range depends on your training experience – Beginners can do well with 5-10 working sets per muscle group, per week, while more advanced trainees should increase the volume, in order to induce a greater stimulus.

And so, the first step of building a training split, is to determine the total number of sets, per muscle group per week.

This should be at 10-15-20 sets, depending on your exercise experience – again, beginners should start with less and gradually increase the volume over time.

Determine Recovery Windows

The second step is to allow each muscle group to recover a minimum of 48 hours and no more than 96 hours, before training it again.

For most people, this would mean training each muscle group twice a week, or every 3-4 days.

This allows the body to recover from the previous training session and come back ready and hungry for bigger loads and more volume!

Determine Set Rest Times 

Last but not least, to squeeze the best out of every set in your training split, make sure to optimize your rest times.

As we said, shorter rest times mean quicker fatigue, so ultimately, you’d want to set your rest times at 2-3 minutes for most compound (multi-joint) movements.

This will allow you to sustain performance and delay fatigue.

No-Days Off Split!

For all you gym junkies reading this, we have something special – a personal favorite, advanced training split that has zero to no rest days!

“No days off? Isn’t that bad for your body?”

Well… It can be. But in our opinion, it’s all about how you set the variables in your training split – if the total amount of work done is not too much, no days off can be quite effective.

Now let’s look at the split.

Day 1 – Upper AnteriorDay 2 – Lower AnteriorDay 3 – Upper Posterior Day 4 – Lower Posterior
Barbell Bench Press – 5 working sets of 10 repetitionsBarbell Squats – 5 working sets of 8-10 repetitionsPull-Ups – 3 working sets close to failureBodyweight Squats – 3 sets of 15 repetitions (warm-up)
Incline Bench DB Curls – 5 working sets of 10 repetitionsTibialis Raises – 5 working sets of 15 repetitionsBarbell Rows – 3 working sets of 10 repetitionsBarbell Hip thrusts – 5 working sets of 10 repetitions
Overhead Barbell Press – 5 working sets of 10 repetitionsHanging Leg Raises – 5 working sets of 10-15 repetitionsSkullcrushers – 5 working sets of 8-10 repetitionsHamstring Curls – 5 working sets of 10 repetitions
Standing Calf Raises – 5 working sets of 12-15 repetitions

As you can see, the split is not too overloaded – you have 3-4 exercises on each day, covering most major muscle groups.

Certainly, this split can be modified:

  1. You can switch-up the exercises
  2. You can adjust the number of sets
  3. You can adjust the number of reps to tap into heavier 3-5 rep sets

And of course, if it just so happens that you reach a burnout or a training plateau, consider taking a day or two off!

To answer the questions of “Is working out 5 days a week too much, Is working out 6 days a week too much?” the answer is… not quite too much.

Especially if you are an advanced trainee, daily workouts are a good idea, if the training load is managed correctly!

How Many Days A Week Should I Workout To Build Muscle?

So… what’s the answer to the age-old question of “how many days a week should I workout to build muscle?”

Well, the moral of the story is, if you want to get big and strong, you’re better off hitting each muscle group more than once per week rather. 

More isn’t always better – quality trumps quantity when it comes to working out. 

So try splitting up your workouts and distributing your total training volume across 2 or more workouts. 

And don’t forget to add in some rest days where needed, so your muscles can recover and grow!

Thank us later!

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