Frequency for Bodybuilding Workouts

Frequency for Bodybuilding Workouts

Successful weight training depends on more than the exercises you choose. The frequency of your workouts goes a long way to determining your ultimate success. Too few workouts and you’re quickly wasting your time. Too many workouts and you risk injury from overtraining. Especially for bodybuilding, which depends on developing mass and definition, you need a schedule that gets you in the gym frequently enough to engage your muscles, but with enough recovery time to allow tissue growth.

Workout Frequency Basics
For effective bodybuilding, you’ll need to establish a split workout schedule. This means that, instead of each workout session including all of your exercises, you only focus on a subset of muscle groups for each session. Split routines let you adequately rest a particular muscle group while working out another muscle group the next day. While it’s possible to split your routine up to six days each week, such a high frequency can pose risks from over-training. According to bodybuilding champion Bill Pearl, four- and five-day schedules, with the proper exercise intensity, produce the best results.

Four-Day Plan
The four-day workout plan lets you split your workouts in a variety of ways. One common way to organize a four-day split is to segregate your upper body workouts from your lower body workouts, engaging the former on days one and three, and the latter on days two and four. Usually, you’ll schedule one full rest day in between days two and three, with two full days of rest between day four and day one of the following week.

Five-Day Plan
The five-day plan can be a little trickier, since you’re working out an odd number of sessions each week. You can arrange the focus of each workout in a variety of ways, but one common schedule will break up your upper-body workouts into chest/shoulders/triceps and back/biceps. For example, days one and three work chest/shoulders/triceps, days two and four work back/biceps, and day five works the lower body heavily. This schedule is suited for bodybuilders who want to focus on developing upper-body mass and definition.

Rest and Recovery
Regardless of the frequency of your workouts, you need to schedule in enough rest time to allow your muscles to recover following each workout. You won’t develop sufficient definition if you engage the same muscles multiple times without recovery time. Muscles require at least one full day for regrowth. Be cautious with certain compound exercises on successive days, because those exercises may engage muscles you’ve used during the previous day’s workout. For example, avoid exercises like the high snatch and the high pull during your lower-body workouts, because they also incorporate the biceps, triceps and shoulders.