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How Many Days a Week Should You Get To the Gym?

Joe Pietaro

Joe Pietaro

Joe Pietaro Contributer
May 30, 2014
It's a question that has been asked time and time again and probably as many answers for each, as well. But is there a real 'answer,' per se, to it? And are any responses truly wrong? For that, you have to look over many aspects of each person and what is their threshold. And as soon as you figure that out, it changes... for the better.

Let's begin with some basics regarding weight training and cardio, which are two completely different things. Weight training builds muscle; cardio burns fat. Depending on what your present physique looks like should determine which area you focus on. If you're overweight, hit cardio more than the weights. If you're thin-framed and want to put on some quality size, then the weights have more importance. But do not abandon cardio just because you feel you are not fat; it will make those gains look sculpted and we aren't even covering nutrition here, something that is more important than anything you will do in the gym.

The time that someone has to commit to the gym also comes into play, of course. If you can only make it three days a week, then you'll have to do more than one body part a day and figure out which ones you should couple. For example, many people fall back on the old 'push-pull' routine when training two or more body parts in a session. Back and biceps are a common combo and it has its pros and cons. But you have to get it in and train every body part at least once per week no matter how many days you are at the gym. And a three-day routine should be the shortest of any weekly routine, well. Anything less and you're going through the motions and will have a hard time seeing much of a difference in the mirror.

If you can get there four or five days a week, you can focus on the body parts and not have pre-exhaustion always part of your second muscle. Here's an example of a good five-day schedule:

Day 1 - Arms (biceps and triceps)
Day 2 - Chest
Day 3 - Back
Day 4 - Shoulders
Day 5 - Legs

What is important here is that days two through five are flip-flopping push and pull body parts, so you're not always hitting a muscle that was worked as a secondary one the day before. Doing biceps and triceps together is something that many people like and others swear away from; it all depends on what you feel works best for you. But breaking up the body over five days, there has to be one overlap and since both the arms muscles are smaller in comparison to some of the others, you can get an effective workout on both on the same day.

The bottom line is that what works best for someone may not work at all for you, so don't try and emulate someone's workout routine unless you are feeling it working for you, too. The number of days may fluctuate, but if you hit every body part at least once and do cardio no less than three times a week, you should see some nice results.
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