How Many Times Per Week Should You Lift Weights?

Learn exactly how many times per week you should lift weights for minimum effective dose along with maximum benefit.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #290

Another good twice-a-week strength training scenario would be a combination of:

1) a super-slow lifting protocol exactly as described by Doug McGuff in his book “Body By Science”—specifically 12-20 minutes of just a few choice multi-joint exercises with extremely slow, controlled lifting (30-60 seconds per rep) and relatively high weights:

  1. Super slow upper body push (e.g. overhead press)
  2. Super slow upper body pull (e.g. pull-up)
  3. Super slow lower body push (e.g. squat)
  4. Super slow lower body pull (e.g. deadlift)

2) a high intensity body weight circuit program exactly as described in this study, in which a pair of researchers designed a 7 minute workout to maintain strength and muscle in as little time as possible. Each exercise below is simply to be performed for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between exercises.

  1. Jumping jack
  2. Wall sits
  3. Pushups
  4. Crunches
  5. Step-ups
  6. Squats
  7. Dips
  8. Planks
  9. Running in place with high knees
  10. Lunges
  11. Pushups with rotation
  12. Side planks

So in summary, to get the most bang for your buck from strength training with the minimum effective dose, you should do two strength workouts per week. You can use, for example, two 5x5 workouts, or one workout with slow controlled heavy lifting and one workout with high intensity, light, body weight-esque movements.

Recover 72 hours between these sessions, and understand that you must also reap the maximum benefit of physical activity by also, as I describe in “How To Look Good Naked And Live A Long Time”, focusing on other energy systems, specifically cardiovascular fitness, muscle endurance, mitochondrial density, metabolic efficiency and stamina.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about the ideal number of times per week to lift weights? Join the conversation at Facebook.com/getfitguy.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.