You want more muscle than you have right now.
But you’re busy.
And you don’t have much time available to go to the gym and lift weights.
What’s the minimum amount of training time required to build muscle?
If you’re willing to work hard and push yourself, you can build muscle with a full body workout performed twice a week.
In fact, research shows very similar gains in size and strength whether you train a muscle group twice or three times a week.
• In one study, subjects training a muscle group twice per week made around 70% of the strength gains (measured by maximal strength in the squat) compared to subjects training three times per week.
• In another, training twice per week led to around 80% of the isometric strength gains achieved by those training three days per week.
• Canadian researchers compared the same total training volume divided across two or three weekly workouts. Gains in muscle size and strength were virtually identical with both routines.
• Researchers from the University of Memphis compared the effects of a strength-training program performed either twice or three days per week in a group of adults aged over 60. The rate of progress in both groups was almost identical.
• When a team of scientists compared studies that investigated training muscle groups once, twice or three times a week, they concluded that “the major muscle groups should be trained at least twice a week to maximize muscle growth.”.
“All a muscle needs to grow is two workouts a week,” writes Vince Gironda in his book The Wild Physique. “This goes for champions too. Hit muscles twice a week and they will get bigger, perhaps at a faster rate than you may believe possible.”
There are several other benefits of training twice a week:
1. The first is obvious. Lifting weights twice a week won’t take up much more than a couple of hours, which is less than 2% of the time available to you over the course of a week.
That gives you plenty of time to get other stuff done.
2. If you’re into a particular sport (e.g. cycling, running, or martial arts) and want to incorporate some strength work in your program, lifting weights twice a week will allow you to do so without interfering with your other training.
3. Training twice a week will let you retain (and in some instances gain) both size and strength while you drop fat. It’s also a good fit if you’re using a carbohydrate cycling protocol where the primary goal is to get strong and ripped.
Increasing your carb intake on the days you lift weights will make a big difference to your performance in the gym while having a relatively minor impact on your weekly calorie deficit.
4. If you’re in your 40’s, 50’s or beyond, you’ll know that it takes longer for your body, especially your joints, to recover from a hard workout.
Cutting your training frequency back to twice a week is an ideal way to gain size and strength while still giving your body the recovery time it needs.
From best-selling author Dan John:
“What has always amazed me about training twice a week is how good my joints feel and how much energy I seem to have to do all the other important things in life.”
So there you have it.
If you can’t make it to the gym as often as you’d like, don’t worry.
Twice a week is still enough to get the job done.
SEE ALSO: THE MUSCLE BUILDING CHEAT SHEET
If you're fed up spending hours in the gym with nothing to show for it, then check out The Muscle Building Cheat Sheet.
It's a "cut the waffle and just tell me what to do” PDF that tells you exactly how to go about building muscle. To get a copy of the cheat sheet sent to you, please click or tap here to enter your email address.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN FINNChristian Finn holds a master's degree with distinction in exercise science, is a former personal trainer and has been featured on BBC TV and radio, as well as in Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Fit Pro, Zest, and Perfect Body magazine.