How Many Workouts per Week for Maximum Mass?
In his book, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding Arnold Schwarzenegger trained each major bodypart 2 times per week. Here is the exact training split Arnold used in his competitive training career.
- Day 1 – Chest and Back
- Day 2 – Shoulders and Arms
- Day 3 – Legs and Lower Back
- Day 4 – Chest and Back
- Day 5 – Shoulders and Arms
- Day 6 – Legs and Lower Back
- Day 7 – Rest
So if Arnold trained six days a week does that mean you should train six days per week to maximize muscle gains? The late bodybuilder Mike Mentzer argued that performing any more work than the minimum required was a counterproductive. So the million dollar question is how many days per week do you need to spend in the gym for muscle gains? When trying to maximize strength and hypertrophy, its easy to think bodybuilding is like anything else in life, the more you train, the better you will become.
According to new research published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, training four days per week resulted in the same improvements in muscle mass as training six days per week. Researchers compared different split resistance training routines on body composition and muscular strength in elite bodybuilders. Ten male bodybuilders were randomly assigned into one of two resistance training groups: 4 and 6 times per week, in which the individuals trained for 4 weeks, 4 sets for each exercise performing 6-12 repetitions maximum (RM) in a pyramid fashion. The four days per week group trained 90-100 minute per workouts and the six days per week group trained 60-70 minutes per workout. Both groups performed the exact same training volume per week.
Body composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, muscle strength was evaluated by 1RM bench press testing. The food intake was planned by nutritionists and offered individually throughout the duration of the experiment. Significant increases in fat-free mass and muscular strength with no group by time interaction were observed. The researchers concluded that 4 and 6 weekly sessions frequencies of resistance training promote similar increases in fat-free mass and muscular strength in elite bodybuilders. This is a really shocking and fascinating study as it showed that lifters can spend less time in the gym and still get equal results as those that trained more. The other really interesting thing about this study is that they used elite bodybuilders and not untrained athletes or college students.
Ribeiro AS, Schoenfeld BJ, Silva DR, Pina FL, Guariglia DA, Porto M, Maestá N,
Burini RC, Cyrino ES. Effect of Two- Versus Three-Way Split Resistance Training
Routines on Body Composition and Muscular Strength in Bodybuilders: A Pilot
Study. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 May 26.
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