What frequency of training for muscle groups

When setting up your fitness or strength training program, you ask yourself: " How often should I train each muscle to get the results I want?"

Some say 3 times, others 2 times, while some go as far as recommending only 1 weekly session per muscle group.

So what's the right answer?

And especially, what works best?

You've probably asked yourself this question more than once if you're looking to get results.

On the Web, it sometimes seems like there are as many answers as there are hairs in Santa's beard.

It's pretty frustrating, I admit.

However, the answer exists.

Let's get to the facts... 

SmartWorkout Elite

Let's cut the question first

First, I must admit that the question seems rather broad.

Indeed, the expression "training frequency" can have several meanings.

That's why I added "for each muscle group" in the title.

Because in reality, there are 3 important frequencies in your weight training program or fitness :

  1. Overall training frequency: How often do you exercise per week? This may include bodybuilding sessionscycling, cardio, etc.
  2. The frequency of your specific strength training program: How many resistance training sessions per week? This includes dumbbells, weights, and resistance bands, la barre de traction ou les TRX straps. En bref, tout ce qui vous permet de développer votre volume musculaire.
  3. The frequency of training for each muscle or muscle group: How many times per week will each of your muscles undergo a specific resistance training session?

As far as we are concerned, the last 2 frequencies are the ones we will focus on in this article.

Regarding the 1st frequency, just keep in mind that it is not profitable to exercise every day.

Follow this rule (even if you are young): Keep at least one day off per week. No sports that day, except maybe petanque.

So back to the question:

What is the right training frequency for you in weight training or fitness?

The answer: (already?)

Now, you're probably thinking, "Stephane, he didn't mess up today!"

No, rest assured, the article will be quite complete and rich in information, as usual.

It is true that the question is good, and you will see that the answer is not necessarily obvious.

In fact, I'll answer you right away: "The answer is...

... that all three solutions are good."

"See you next week!"

No, I'm kidding. Don't go away.

What I really mean is that you CAN actually train each body part 1, 2 or 3 times a week and get good results.

But what you must understand is that in these 3 situations your training volume will not be the same.

In fact, it should definitely NOT be the same.

Basically, you can choose between training a lot, but less often, or training a little, but more often.

If by the end of this article, you understand this concept perfectly, you will get resultsregardless of the frequency you have chosen.

Otherwise, you won't get any results. Let me explain it all to you step by step.

1. Training of each muscle group once a week

Let's take the example of a weight training program:

  • Monday: pectorals
  • Tuesday: back
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday: legs
  • Friday: shoulders/biceps/triceps
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: rest

As you can see, each muscle group is requested once a week.

This means that the muscles have 6 days of rest between each session.

Now, if you follow this routine (or something similar), you need to make sure that the level of muscle stimulation will be enough for the whole week.

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Why ?

Because if you don't, your muscles will have recovered long before they work again.

And that's not good if your goal is to build muscle or strength.

So if you are in the "APPEARANCE" or "PERFORMANCE" families, this is not the right option. Read the previous article in the series to help you determine your goal dTraining.

You may not even see no progress. Depending on your level of development, you can even regress.

However, stimulating the muscle groups enough to benefit from them all week is very, very difficult.

Conversely, you may even be able to too much stress your organization in the desire to do well.

This would also be bad.

However, if you are a member of the "HEALTH" family, this type of program may be just as suitable as the others.

Here, all you need to do is follow the "I burn more calories than I consume" rule.

This brings us to the next point. Let's take the opposite extreme first.

Adjustable dumbbells 40kg

2. Training frequency: 3 times a week

Let's imagine this time the following program:

  • Monday: whole body
  • Tuesday: rest
  • Wednesday: whole body
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: whole body
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: rest

In this case, each muscle group has 1 or 2 days of rest only.

You can also choose to train 6 days a week, alternating between upper body and legs.

To follow this program, the way of working is very different from the previous one.

In effect, you should not stress your muscles too much so that they have time to recover between sessions.

Otherwise, you easily risk overtraining.

This is especially true if you're over 35 or 40 (so I'm not talking about the older ones, which I am).

If your rest time is insufficient, not only will you not progress, but you may even regress.

Training frequency - avoid overtraining
Beware of overtraining!

The main disadvantage of this method in weight training is that you will have difficulty in surpassing yourself each week to promote muscle growth.

However, this type of training will not be a problem if your primary goal is to lose weight or if you are a beginner.

Let's move on to the last type of program.

3. Training of each muscle 2 times a week

New example of a training routine:

  • Monday : bust
  • Tuesday: legs
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday : bust
  • Friday : legs
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: rest

As before, this is just an example. You can of course vary the training days and the distribution.

However, when it comes to distribution, this is still the best way to go.

Indeed, it is better to avoid working the legs at the same time as the rest of the body.

What is the reason for this?

Because leg muscles are big muscles. They require a lot of energy, nerve impulses and blood circulation.

You may be completely burned out on the other exercises.

For my part, I only work the abs after the legs.

In this model routine, you will see that each muscle group will be worked twice a week. You will also keep 2 to 3 days of rest between each session.

Again, I'm talking about a rest day for the muscle groups, not for you. Because you, you will train 4 times a week.

And yes, 😉 you have to suffer to be beautiful.

When using this type of program, you can always fall into the trap of training too much or not enough.

However, it is the most balanced method.

By working each muscle twice a week, you will more easily avoid the pitfalls associated with the previous 2 types of programs.

Basically, you get the best of both worlds. Ain't life grand? 🙂

To summarize: All 3 types of programs are effective but...

What I mean is that these different training frequencies can work depending on your goals and current level.

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But the only way to make them effective is toadapt your training volume to their frequency.

Let me explain.

Let's just say that the ideal for each major muscle group is to perform 6 different exercises each week, consisting of 3 sets each.

That's about 18 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Let's illustrate

Let's imagine these 3 cases:

  1. You have chosen to train each muscle group only once a week. Let's go back to the example of the program in point 1. On Monday, you will have to perform the 6 exercises for the pectoral muscles, i.e. a total of 18 sets, in one go. If you can do this, it's mission accomplished.
  2. You have chosen to train your muscles 3 times a week. In this case, you must do 2 exercises for each muscle during your session. That is 6 sets for each muscle group. Did you follow me?
  3. You choose to work your muscle groups 2 times a week. If you're not too bad at math, you already know that you'll be doing 3 exercises for each group, or about 9 sets for each.

So, no matter how you turn it around, your ideal weekly workout should always be composed of the same number of exercises.

In our example, we have chosen 18, but maybe for you it will be more or less than that depending on your goal.

But it's a good average.

In the end, you will have to do the same work to get the desired results. Is that clear?

If this is not the case, do not hesitate to leave your comments or questions at the bottom of this page.

I will be happy to answer.


A small note

Note that when I chose 18 exercises, I applied that to the major muscle groups. In my opinion, this is a good frequency for pectorals, back and legs.

The smaller muscles, such as biceps and tricepsIn the case of the latter, they can be satisfied with a frequency of 6 to 9 exercises per week.

Let's move on to the most important question. 

What is the best training frequency?

Now that you understand that all training frequencies can work, you may be wondering if one is better or worse than the others.

And the answer is... Of course, YES!

The fact is that what is best for you depends on a number of factors, including your level of experience or of the family (click to understand) to which you belong.

My point is this:

  • If you are a beginner in weight training or fitness, then all the experts, research and different experiences in the field show that the ideal training frequency for you is 3 times a week.
  • If you're an intermediate or expert level exerciser, it seems that the ideal is to train each muscle group 2 times a week.

So who is the "once a week" frequency for?

Although this type of training seems popular with many people, it appears that it is really the LESS effective for most of us.

It is even often a big waste of time if you belong to the "APPEARANCE" or "PERFORMANCE" families.

First of all, you must understand that if you choose this type of training, your muscle groups will only work 52 times a year.

Whereas if you choose to train them twice a week, they will benefit from 104 sessions. Am I right so far?

Which of these choices do you find more effective?

It seems fairly obvious, doesn't it?

The reason for the error

So why do many people choose to train their muscles only once a week?

Response: because they read too many articles written by and for professional bodybuilders, and not for them.

In fact, training each muscle group just once a week works really well for those who get "help. I don't mean that someone is coming to keep them company.

No, I'm not. I'm talking about some kind of "assistance" such as drugs, steroids, growth hormones, etc.

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Afterwards, you will always find people with exceptional genetic abilities for which this technique will work.

But here we are talking about the exception that proves the rule.

This kind of routine is also valid for bodybuilder that have reached their maximum potential.

Why ?

Because their goal is to maintain their current volume.

The articles that people read are often about the latter category.

And because they want to be like them, they believe that this type of training is for them.

The only problem is that you and I are mainly part of the normal, natural people, not especially favored by genetics.


This means that if you're looking to gain muscle, the "once a week" training frequency is not for you.

I repeat, IT'S NOT FOR YOU.

Unless you're part of the "HEALTH" family and don't care about the results of your exercises as long as you're in shape.

Or if you only want to lose fat. In this case, it doesn't matter what you do, you only need to burn calories.

My conclusions

So here's what I recommend:

  • Training of each muscle group once a week I strongly advise against this frequency. Unless your only goal is to maintain your current level of strength and muscle size, get in shape or lose weight. Otherwise, forget it. This is the least effective method.
  • Exercising the muscles 3 times a week This is the method I recommend for beginnersWhatever their objectives (lose fat, increase strength, build muscle, etc.).
  • A training frequency of 2 times a week for each muscle group is the one I recommend for those who are at the intermediate or expert. It works better than the others for most people (except beginners), whatever their goals.

Besides, I'll let you in on a secret: the frequency I chose is 2 times a week for each muscle group.

I work the upper body on Mondays and Fridays, while I reserve Wednesdays and Sundays for legs and abs.

I apply this frequency to my HIIT Tabata sessions using resistance bands rather than dumbbells.

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What's next?

Have you chosen the right pace of sessions for you?

So you're well on your way to creating the best workout routine for you.

If you put these tips into practice, you're bound to make progress.

The next article in the series will help you harmonize your ideal training frequency with your objectives.

NOTE : This article is the 4th in a comprehensive and free guide that will help you create the best possible fitness or weight training program for you. This will help you achieve exactly the goals you have set for yourself.

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Last updated on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Some images are sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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