How often can I train the same muscle in a week?

muscly woman holding a dumbbell to lift for muscle frequency article

When training to increase the size of a muscle, everyone wants to train using the optimal method. So how many times a week should you be hitting the same muscle group to maximize your growth?

 

A look at scientific evidence doesn’t paint a clear picture I’m afraid to say. (1) This study demonstrates that recovery after a workout differs between males and females and between muscles groups- so it is unlike that frequencies can be predicted using the current research for a single person.

(2) the study demonstrates that when trained with the same volume, some muscles take longer to recover than others. (3) another study demonstrated how, when the volume was equated, (sets x reps x load) they were no differences between 1,2 and 3 days a week in muscle growth when training the same muscle.So what does this all mean?

Training frequencies for muscle growth are highly individual.  What might work for someone, might not work for you? So, some practical recommendations. Try to find to your maximum recoverable volume for each muscle group. For example, start with the minimum dose of training,

Say 3 sets per week, for a single muscle group, say chest.

If after 3 sets a week, you’re still recovering easily within 48-72 hours, and don’t feel sore add an extra set. Keep doing this until you reach 6 sets in a single workout for chest. Still recovering well, train chest twice a week, once with 6 sets another with 3 sets, still recovering well, add a extra set on day number two. 

So, Session (1) Tuesday Flat Dumbbells Press 6 x 10-12 and Session (2) Friday 2 Incline Barbell Press 6 x 10-12.  Total sets per week 12

Once you stop recovering after 42-72 Hours, you’ve found your maximum recoverable . Repeat the process with each muscle group, remember the research suggests not all muscle groups recovery at the same speed (1)  Be your own scientist, experiment, record, and find your optimal frequencies.

Sources

(1 )Davies, R. W., Carson, B. P., & Jakeman, P. M. (2018). Sex Differences in the Temporal Recovery of Neuromuscular Function Following Resistance Training in Resistance Trained Men and Women 18 to 35 Years. Frontiers in physiology,

 

(2) Chen, T. C., Lin, K. Y., Chen, H. L., Lin, M. J., & Nosaka, K. (2011). Comparison in eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage among four limb muscles. European journal of applied physiology, 111(2), 211-223.

 

(3)Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., & Krieger, J. (2018). How many times per week should a muscle be trained to maximize muscle hypertrophy? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of resistance training frequency. Journal 

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