Body building beginners especially are fond of asking how often they should train. This is a very important question, for it can determine success or failure of a body building program within months after initiation. If for instance you train to the optimal intensity on Tuesday, should you hit the gym again on Wednesday or should wait until Thursday or even Friday? What determines our training frequency? What kind of training frequency facilitates optimal muscle mass and strength development? The question applies to both the beginner and the intermediate or advanced body builder.
The answer to these pertinent questions lies in each individual body builder’s genetics. The body requires an average of 48 hours at the minimum, to fully recover from intense exercise. However, some individuals require even longer recovery periods based on their genetic wiring. The physiological processes based at the cellular level of muscle tissues, require enough rest and a supply of nutrients to heal, recover and rejuvenate, before the body builder can train the same muscle or muscle group again.
It is therefore upon you to determine how long it takes your muscles to loose their soreness and feel strong again after a training session, and then to leave this amount of time after every training session, for recovery. The guiding principle, rule of the thumb as they call it, is if you can feel your muscles slightly sore, don’t train that muscle yet. The fact that they are still sore means that they are still repairing and recovering and have not achieved their health completely. If you go to the gym just yet, that soreness will ultimately develop into injury and the muscles will be damaged, sometimes beyond repair. You end up staying out of the gym longer, nursing injuries.
At the average, a beginner should train at an interval of 48 hours to 72 hours, and therefore attending three training sessions for each week. But then again, don’t go for more than 96 hours before you resume training, unless you have muscle injuries to heal. A Monday then Wednesday the Friday training schedule would therefore be ideal. Amplifying the diet is also a good way to ensure quick recovery.
For advanced bodybuilder there is an option available in attending the gym regularly. At this stage, the body is stronger and more apt to handle training stress. Nevertheless, rest and recovery remain as important if not more. The best thing to do is to split up the workout routine for a week into several isolation-training sessions. A good example top elaborate this is, if you train the back on Monday, you must allow at least 48 hours for the back to recover before hitting it again with intense exercises. Instead of keeping out of the gym on Tuesday, you can attend a training session for the upper body. On Wednesday, you can still train, but this time you target the lower torso.
You can therefore train daily, but on each day, a different muscle or muscle group is trained and then given adequate time to recover before being trained again. For both the beginner and the advanced body builders, the essence is in ensuring complete recovery before retraining any muscle. Training a muscle too frequently or the again, too infrequently, results to what the pros call, sub-maximal gains.