Lack of time is the most common barrier to exercise. How frequently should we train? Is a question that is we are sure has crossed everyone's mind to the most dedicated gym-goers to those who are just starting out.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the "gold standard for exercises recommendations. To shed light on this topic.
ACSM and CDC recommendations state that (1):
All healthy adults aged 18–65 yr should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days per week, or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 min on three days per week.
Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days per week.
Is this enough ?
In 2018, A meta-analysis of Ralston showed no significant effect of resistance training frequency on muscular strength gains. On the other hand, in the same year, A meta-analysis of Grgic showed higher training frequencies are translated into greater muscular strength gains (2). However, these effects seem to be primarily driven by training volume because when the volume is equated, there was no significant effect of training frequency on muscular strength gains (3) An interesting narrative review in 2021 also showed weekly training volume is more important than training frequency. Thus, training volume is likely to result in muscular strength gains greater than training frequency. But higher frequency can be used for additional training volume.
Our programming recommendation for strength training and optimum time efficiency (minimum requirements)
We recommend that you prioritize bilateral, multiple-joint exercises that include full dynamic movements which we known as "compound movement"
Perform a minimum of one leg pressing exercise (e.g. squats), one upper-body pulling exercise (e.g. pull-up) and one upper-body pushing exercise (e.g. bench press),
A minimum of 4 weekly sets per muscle group using a 6–15 RM loading range.
Resistance training 2 days a week is recommended for muscular strength gains. Once a week can be accepted when the minimum requirements are achieved. But if you need to improve muscular strength gains, you need to train more frequently so that you can add more training volume.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Opor Kasem is a TPF level 2 coach, who specializes in powerlifting, strength and functional training. He works with an extremely diverse group of clients from high-level athletes to your everyday professional. He enjoys spending his free time learning, tweaking and testing training methodologies to make sure you get the results you are after. He has also established himself as a top contender in the sport of powerlifting.