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How many days a week should I lift?

Quick Answers

The optimal number of days per week to lift weights depends on your goals, experience level, recovery capacity, and workout split. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Beginners: 2-3 days per week
  • Intermediates: 3-5 days per week
  • Advanced: 4-6 days per week

Most experts recommend taking at least 1 rest day between workout sessions to allow your muscles to recover and grow. Spreading your lifting sessions out over the course of a week provides the optimal balance between training stimulus and recovery.

Benefits of Lifting Multiple Days Per Week

Lifting weights several days per week has a number of benefits compared to just lifting 1-2 days:

  • More frequent training stimulus to build muscle
  • Ability to hit all major muscle groups multiple times per week
  • Increased calorie burn and metabolism
  • Improved strength and power
  • Enhanced muscle growth when combined with proper nutrition

Lifting 4-5 days per week is ideal for maximizing muscle growth. This allows you to stress your muscles frequently while still providing enough recovery between sessions.

Beginner Guidelines: 2-3 Days Per Week

If you’re new to lifting weights, start with 2-3 workout days per week. This provides enough training stimulus for your muscles to adapt and grow while minimizing injury risk.

As a beginner, your ability to recover between workouts is limited. Lifting too frequently as a novice can lead to overtraining, burnout, and inadequate recovery.

Aim for at least 1 full rest day between sessions. For example:

  • Monday: Full body workout
  • Wednesday: Full body workout
  • Friday: Full body workout

Or an upper/lower body split:

  • Monday: Upper body
  • Wednesday: Lower body
  • Friday: Upper body

Focus on learning proper lifting technique and building strength early on. As you gain experience, you can gradually increase your training frequency.

Intermediate Guidelines: 3-5 Days Per Week

Once you’ve built a solid strength foundation as a beginner, you can increase your lifting frequency as an intermediate lifter.

Aim for 3-5 workout days per week as an intermediate, with at least 1 rest day in between sessions. This provides enhanced muscular stimulus without overtaxing your recovery abilities.

Many experienced lifters utilize a “push/pull/legs” split over 3-5 days:

  • Push: Chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Pull: Back, biceps
  • Legs: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes

A popular intermediate split is:

  • Monday: Push
  • Tuesday: Pull
  • Thursday: Legs
  • Friday: Push
  • Saturday: Pull

This allows you to train major muscle groups 2x per week with optimal recovery. Customize your split to your preferences and schedule.

Advanced Guidelines: 4-6 Days Per Week

Very experienced lifters can often handle working out 4-6 days per week. This takes advantage of greater recovery capacities from years of training.

When lifting this frequently, it’s essential to listen to your body and take recovery weeks when needed. This prevents overtraining which can severely hinder muscular gains.

A common advanced 6 day split is:

  • Monday: Chest/triceps
  • Tuesday: Back/biceps
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Chest/triceps
  • Saturday: Back/biceps

This allows hitting individual muscle groups hard twice per week. Legs are trained once since they require the most recovery time.

An advanced 4 day upper/lower body split looks like:

  • Monday: Upper body
  • Tuesday: Lower body
  • Thursday: Upper body
  • Friday: Lower body

Adjust volume and intensity appropriately to enable frequent training. Take recovery weeks every 4-8 weeks to avoid burnout.

Factors that Influence Lifting Frequency

Here are some key factors to consider when planning your weekly lifting split:

Training Goals

Your specific goals influence ideal training frequency:

  • Muscle growth: 4-5 days per week to frequently stimulate muscles
  • Strength: 3-4 days to allow for heavier lifting
  • Endurance: 5-6 days with moderate weights and reps

Adjust frequency based on your target outcomes. Muscle growth benefits from more frequent stimulation.

Workout Volume and Intensity

The total workout volume (sets x reps x weight) and training intensity influence recovery needs.

High volume, intense sessions require more recovery time. Reduce frequency and increase rest days to compensate.

Lower volume and moderate intensity enables more frequent training.

Nutrition and Recovery Practices

Proper post-workout nutrition and recovery practices (e.g. sleep, massage, foam rolling) enhance recovery between sessions.

Those who optimize nutrition and actively recover can train more frequently compared to those who don’t.

Manage fatigue and allow for sufficient muscle protein synthesis between workouts.

Individual Factors

Consider your unique recovery abilities, training experience, age, genetics, and injury history when planning frequency.

Older lifters often require more rest time relative to young athletes. Listen to your body and adjust as needed over time.

Balancing Training and Recovery

The key to maximizing gains from weight training is finding the optimal balance between providing adequate training stimulus while allowing enough recovery.

Insufficient rest between sessions can lead to overtraining, elevated injury risk, and reduced performance gains over time.

Symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Inability to lift usual weights
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Elevated stress and irritability

If experiencing overtraining symptoms, take a recovery week and reduce lifting frequency. Increase rest days until symptoms resolve.

Adequate sleep, nutrition, and stress management also help facilitate recovery between workouts.

Sample Weekly Lifting Splits

Here are some sample weekly lifting split schedules:

Beginner 3 Day Full Body

Monday Full Body Weights
Wednesday Full Body Weights
Friday Full Body Weights

Intermediate 4 Day Upper/Lower

Monday Lower Body
Tuesday Upper Body
Thursday Lower Body
Friday Upper Body

Advanced 5 Day Push/Pull/Legs

Monday Chest/Triceps Push
Tuesday Back/Biceps Pull
Wednesday Legs
Thursday Shoulders
Friday Chest/Triceps Push

Customize a schedule that aligns with your goals and allows for sufficient muscular recovery between sessions.

Change It Up Over Time

It’s not necessary to stick to the exact same workout schedule week after week for months on end. Periodically change your routine to keep your training fresh and continue stimulating gains.

Ways to change up your split:

  • Swap frequency (e.g. from 3 days to 4 days)
  • Rotate different training splits (e.g. push/pull to upper/lower)
  • Take a light recovery week (reduce volume and intensity)
  • Include different training techniques like drop sets, supersets, etc.
  • Modify exercises and focus on different muscle groups

Avoid overthinking it though. Find a sustainable routine you enjoy first, then look to incorporate variety.

Listen to Your Body

While these guidelines provide a general framework, always listen to your body above all else.

If you feel great lifting 6 days per week as a novice, and it’s not impairing your performance or gains, then go for it.

Likewise if you need a full week off as an advanced lifter, don’t force yourself to follow some preset schedule.

Let your energy levels, aches and pains, and training performance guide your lifting frequency week-to-week.

Incorporate Both Weights and Cardio

For overall fitness, combine your strength training with 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise per week, such as:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Rowing
  • Aerobics classes

Aim to spread this cardio out over most days of the week for health benefits. Adjust frequency based on your preferences and recovery needs.

Lifting plus cardio provides a complete exercise routine to get in shape and achieve your fitness goals.


There is no single best lifting frequency suitable for everyone – it depends on your specific goals, abilities, and workout split.

However, these general guidelines provide a great starting point:

  • Beginners: 2-3 days per week
  • Intermediates: 3-5 days per week
  • Advanced: 4-6 days per week

Focus on finding the lifting schedule that allows you to work each muscle group sufficiently while permitting enough recovery between sessions.

Periodically alter your routine, listen to your body, and complement your weights with regular cardio for optimal fitness results.