Here's an excellent recommendation for training frequency:
- SUNDAY: Train at MODERATE* loading and volume
- MONDAY: Train at LIGHT** loading at high volume (a good catch-all day to concentrate on lagging muscle groups)
- TUESDAY: Day off
- WEDNESDAY: Train at HIGH*** loading at low volume
- THURSDAY: Day off
- FRIDAY: Train at HIGH*** loading at low volume
- SATURDAY: Day off
Your days off should be just that--take the time to rest to allow your body to recover from the intense weight training days. Remember, growth occurs after tearing down muscle tissue during the workout. The anabolic process of muscle building and repair occurs during your rest days; the catabolic process of muscle breakdown occurs during your workout days. You've probably heard the saying: you've got to tear down your muscles in order to grow. This is true. Those rest days should consist of eating more calories and plenty of carbs to replenish depleted glycogen stores in your muscles and to stimulate insulin release. Insulin is an anabolic hormone. Since muscle tissue contains lots of protein as well, be sure to up your protein intake during your rest days. Your nervous, immune and hormonal systems also need time to recover from intense weight training. Fail to give these systems adequate recovery time and your performance in the gym will inevitably suffer and your risk of injury increases. You'll also feel sluggish due to a depleted energy level. Never risk becoming overtrained in which your body is in a perpetual energy deficit due to accumulated under-recovery time. Listen to your body and be aware of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The degree of DOMS should allow you to determine the amount of recovery time needed.
BOTTOM LINE: Train heavy between days off. Train at a moderate and a light intensity level on the first and second consecutive training days, respectively. You need to give your body adequate time to recover between training sessions. Fail to do this and your body will not have the opportunity to adapt and grow as a result of the training. More importantly, your risk of injury increases with inadequate rest.
* 70-80% 1-RM (3-4 sets of 8-12 reps)
** 60-70% 1-RM (3-6 sets of 12-15 reps)
*** 80-90% 1-RM (2-3 sets of 6-8 reps)
Caveat: The above are merely example parameters with the average bodybuilder in mind.
Note: 1-RM means one-repetition maximum--the amount of weight that can be lifted for only one repetition.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."