How Much Exercise To Build Muscle
There's a fine line between doing just enough exercise to build muscle and doing too much.
Many people make the mistake in thinking that more exercise is better. If lifting 3 days a week will get me a certain amount of muscle, then lifting double the days will even increase my muscle growth.
That is not the case and it can have a negative effect on building muscle.
There comes a point of diminishing returns if you work out too much. Your body does not get a chance to recover properly if you work out too much.
You run the risk of overtraining (which could lead to much more serious health issues like chronic fatigue) if you work out more than you need to.
So how much is enough to build muscle?
Well, that really depends on many factors. A person's genetics--some people can lift and workout more than others with no ill effects.
A person's age.
The intensity level of exercise.
Other physical activities the person is involved in--if someone has a very physical job in which they do manual labor for 8 hours a day, weight training and cardio could lead to overtraining.
For the most part, as long as you train each muscle group (chest, back, legs, abs, shoulders, biceps, triceps) intensely once each week, that will be sufficient.
This could be done in 3 days if you double up muscle groups (back and triceps, chest and biceps, etc)
Or you can train just one muscle group each day as well and work out 5 to 6 days. It really depends on your schedule and available time to get to the gym.
Cardio should be done on the opposite days of weight training, such as Tuesday and Thursday if you lift Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
If you lift every day of the week, try and do cardio separately in the morning or evening, about 8 hours away from your weight lifting.
You could also do a couple of short cardio sessions on the weekend (Saturday/Sunday) if need be.
Cardio should be kept short and intense to lessen the likelihood of overtraining. Keep cardio sessions under 30 minutes, preferably closer to 15 to 20 minutes.
If your goal is fat burning and losing fat weight, 3 to 4 sessions of cardio, 15 to 20 minutes each session, should be sufficient each week.
You can lessen that amount to 2 to 3 sessions if you're already lean.
Or, if you're looking to lose a lot of fat or compete in a bodybuilding show, you'll need 4 to 5 sessions a week.
It should be based upon your goals and priorities.
Just realize that if you do too much cardio, it will negatively affect your chances to build muscle.
Now, the way to tell if you're training too much to build muscle is to start to really take notice of how you feel.
If you start to notice you're more tired than normal, or you're hitting a plateau on your lifts, or your strength levels are not up to where they normally are, chances are you're over doing it and need to take some time off to recover.
If you're getting sick or irritable more than normal, that's another sign of overtraining.
If you have "brain fog" where you cannot think clear, you're overtraining.
So really listen to your body, take notice of what doesn't seem normal.
If you continue to train while in a tired and weak state, overtraining is going to happen and so will the ill health effects associated with it.
The cure for overtraining: Time off.
If you feel you may be possibly overtraining (you're more tired than normal, strength has hit a plateau or even gone done, you're body feels weak or achy, yawning a lot in the gym, you don't even want to go to the gym, you're getting sick often) then you need to take some time off from working out immediately.
Take a full week off from weight training and cardio and just rest up.
Keep your protein, carb, and fat intake high for this week and allow yourself to enter into a highly anabolic recovery state.
This week off is often times the only thing you need to kickstart you out of a plateau.
When you return from a week off, you will feel stronger, more energetic, and much more capable of lifting max weight with max intensity.
Often times I've come back from a week off and had some of my best workouts ever. I've also beaten personal best lifts (weight lifted) when coming back from a week off.
So, remember that doing more weight training or cardio does not necessarily mean you'll build more muscle. Much like too much sun can lead to a burn, too much weight training or cardio can lead to overtraining and the end of your gains.
Just do what you need to do well (what's listed here in this program for each workout) and you will make gains.
Please do not make the false assumption that more physical activity is better.
There comes a point where you will over train and not allow your body to recover. If you're always energetic and feel strong, continue doing what you're doing because you're most likely not overtraining.
But if you feel weak or tired, you're overtraining and your results are going to go down if you don' take some time off.
Always think quality over quantity. If you do your scheduled tasks well, there’s no need to do more than you have to.
There really is a line between doing too little activity, just enough activity, and too much activity to build muscle.
If you do too little or too much, you’re results will not be as good. With experience and time, you’ll learn exactly how much to do to build muscle.
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