How often should you lift weights?
There are a handful of traditional reasons why people lift weights. A multi-sport athlete may lift to build more resilience against the ravages of a long season. A bodybuilder lifts to make his muscles bigger. A powerlifter wants to push her max ever higher. And serious athletes want more power.
Coaches have observed fewer injuries among athletes who do pre-season conditioning. So it’s common for well-coached athletes to have a pre-season that features strength training. Those workouts typically include bodyweight exercises. They also include weights, typically light-to-moderate weights. Preseason workouts prepare athletes for the upcoming year, competition season, or some rigorous phase of training. One prominent writer of training methodologies, Tudor Bompa, uses the term ‘anatomical adaptation’ for preseason conditioning.
People who lift weights to become resilient should workout between 2 and 4 times per week.
Bodybuilders do just that—they lift weights to build bigger muscles. Lifting weights for increased muscle mass is sometimes called hypertrophy.
Through many generations, bodybuilding methods have had the greatest influence on gyms and what goes on inside of them. It is exhausting work. Beginning bodybuilders should lift weights about twice per week. Professional bodybuilders lift weights 5-6 days per week.
Powerlifters and some recreational lifters like to lift the heaviest weights possible. Maximum strength training is the best way to achieve that objective. That simply means to lift weights that are heavy. But to do so you’ll have to limit the number of exercises, the number of reps, and the number of sets. And you’ll have to take a lot of rest between sets.
This kind of strength training is seductive. It’s common to see folks overdo it: they do it too many weeks in a row, or too many days per week, or both.
Whether beginning or advanced, you should only do this kind of strength training 2-3 times per week.
If a sport features speed or jumping, you’ll want to lift weights for power.
This type of strength training typically features light weights or implements or bodyweight, moved very fast or explosively. Power workouts may also include bodyweight exercises. Another, but rarely seen, approach to power development is to lift heavy weights until exhaustion.
Power is a tricky beast. It’s a bio-motor ability that appears to be tightly controlled by genes, just like speed is a bio-motor ability that is tightly controlled by genes.
But it’s nonetheless a good idea to develop it as much as you are able. Especially if you want to be as fast, quick, and explosive as possible.
Beginners who want more power should do strength training 2-3 times per week. Elite athletes do it 5-6 times per week.
The objective determines how much you should lift weights!
You should have an objective in mind when deciding how many days you should lift per week. The most common objectives are resilience, size, record-strength, and power.
After you identify your objection, there are other important considerations. You have to lift the correct amount of weight, and do the right number of reps and sets, move at the correct speed, and take the appropriate amount of rest. And you have to know when to stop pursuing the objective. Maximum strength training, for example, shouldn’t go on for months at a time.
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