How Often Can You Do Hard Weightlifting Workouts?

Should you lift weights every day? Every other day? Once a week? Get-Fit Guy looks at the results of the latest research. 

Ben Greenfield
2-minute read

Get-Fit Guy readers and listeners often email me to ask: “How often can I do hard weightlifting workouts?”

Every day? Every other day? Once a week?

A recent study looked into just that. The study, which appeared in the International Journal of Exercise Science, subjected a group of weightlifters to a maximum lift, and then had them return after 24 hours, and then again after 48 hours to repeat the lift. It’s key here to understand that the lifts assessed – namely multi-joint exercises like the bench press and the deadlift –were working the same muscles. This is in stark contrast to a weightlifting routine that works different muscles on different days (such as chest on one day, calves/legs on another, shoulder/back on another, etc.)

It turns out that in most of the weightlifters, it took at least 48 hours for strength levels to return to normal, leading the researchers to suggest that “72 hours of recovery should be implemented for multi-joint barbell lifts targeting the same muscle groups.”

For you, this means that if you’re implementing my recommendations to regularly do a full body weight lifting routine with heavy weights, then you’re going to get the most recovery bang for your buck by doing this routine only a few times a week, such as a Monday and a Friday or a Tuesday and a Saturday.

Of course, you can still do other things in between (like yoga, swimming, bicycling, team sports), but your actual weightlifting routine probably isn’t hard enough or heavy enough to get good results unless it’s the type of routine you can only handle a couple of times a week.

What do you think? Do you do your hard workouts too often? Not often enough? Head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy to post your comments or ask your questions!

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.

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