How often should I train a muscle?

Now I get the question “How often should I train a muscle” pretty infrequently. So why would I think that this would be a good topic to write about? Simply put, most people have no clue.  In a typical gym setting you’ll see people training each bodypart once per week. They’ll workout Monday through Friday (or they’ll intend to workout those days) then take the weekend off.

Why do they train each bodypart once?


They just don’t know any better. They either picked up a magazine that told them to do that or they walked in the gym and watched everyone else.  Now if you flip the coin you’ll see that the other side is just as jaded. These people “know” what to do and they very well might have a knowledge background.

It usually goes like this…..

  1. Train each bodypart once
  2. Get angry that you aren’t making gains and train a select bodypart twice.
  3. Decide you like training one bodypart twice and train every bodypart twice.
  4. Make a switch, train full body, wear yourself out then get frustrated.

Or something like that…..

The point that I’m trying to hammer home is that very few people actually look at how often they should train a muscle from a scientific point of view. I know because for the longest time I tried various different types of routines. It’s easy to get confused


I did the full body routines (they’re awful for building muscle)

I did the bodypart splits (they rock for building muscle but most people don’t force themselves to lift heavy weight)

So what needs to go into figuring out how often you need to train a muscle?

It depends on these four factors( in no specific order).

  • Your personal conditioning- If you haven’t trained for a few years, are new to training or are in bad shape then you can’t tolerant frequent training. If this describes you then you’re better off training each muscle once per week. Use how tired and sore you are as a indicator of when you should train that muscle again.
  • How much work you’re doing- If you’re bombing any bodypart with a high volume of sets upwards to 15-20 then you’ll need more time to recover. It’s a bad move to hit that same bodypart during that week. You should won’t be able to recover. Now if you’re only doing 6-10 sets then the chances of hitting that muscle again during the week have greatly increased.
  • How intense each set is- This is another reason why I have a issue with the “full body routines are better than bodypart splits” camp. Bodypart split training is generally low intensity, thus the need to recover is lower and the speed of recovery is greater. If you’re going to use a full body routine where you train every muscle with compound movements then you’ll need a lot more than 48 hours to recover. The more intense your training (as defined by how close you go to failure on each set) then less you’ll be able to train that area.
  • Your goals-Everyone seems to forget this, your goals with your body and your training matter more than any piece of science. If you’re goal is to maximize muscular size then you’ll want to alternate periods of high volume, twice a week training with lower volume, once a week heavy training. If you’re goal is fat loss then you’ll want to alternate periods of full body training with metabolic circuits and cardio. The list goes on and on but your goals are the biggest deciding factor.

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Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)

  1. Rocky S
    9 years ago

    You stated full body workouts are horrible for muscle gain, but if your goal is fat loss then you should do them. If someones goal is to lose fat and build muscle, should they lose the fat then build the muscle by doing full body then split routines when the fats gone, or alternate full body and splits in the same week? Either way, thanks for the information!

  2. vinnie edwards
    9 years ago

    I have to say the I prefer brief, HEAVY, focused workouts. On top of that SINGLES. Yeaah, a good warm-up then up the weight to adjust the weight to the nervous system. Then a couple few HEAVY (a relevant term), singles. I mean balls-to-the-wall lifts. After that maybe another one or two excercises then walk away from it.

    That don\\\’t seem like alot but at 54 yrs old and a max deadlift of 325lbs. I\\\’m damend happy I can do!! My focus is on strength, not so much appearence. I figure that if I\\\’m eating decent and sleeping ok the I\\\’ll get strongerand appearance will take care of itself; and it has nicely. About two years ago I made to decision to be a strength athlete/powerlifter. Yeah I HAVE competed in powerlifting contests and took first place in my age nad weight division.

  3. shib
    9 years ago


    The comment you made at the end is similar to Nate Greens workouts Upper then lower,then full body then a BW conditioning…
    @ 56 and training for 42 yrs its a happy medium and accomplish alot which I’ve used for about 10 yrs and now Nate’s making money off of it:-) I know this is Jimmy’s site


  4. ghaith al-nahwi
    9 years ago

    thanks 4 the information jimmy…

  5. bob
    9 years ago

    How often you train a body part depends on what you are training for. Beginners should rain the entire body each workout. I have seen a training program that use only three exercises – squats, deadlifts and pullovers. This can work if done with heavy weights and good form. Do this for 6 – 8 weeks, every other day, and then move on to split training.

  6. admin
    9 years ago

    That’s one of the messages that I was trying to get across. So many people want this one size fits all mold.

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