How Many Days Should You Lift Weights Per Week?

Does training more often per week automatically equal better results? Some people can hit the gym five or six days a week, while others can barely manage two or three. Is it possible to achieve the same benefits?

If you’re like me, you may have no problem getting to the gym 4 times a week to train and lift weights. But, even I have to admit that I miss a day here and there. Hey, life happens, and the busier I get with my family and my career, the less time I’m able to devote to strength training.
In this article, I am going to take you through the research to answer the age-old question, “how many times per week should you be lifting weights?”

What Does The Research Say?

Studies show that in some cases the number of times per week you lift weights makes a difference, while in others it does not.
In older adults there is not much difference shown in strength, if the individual trains either once or twice per week, but there is a significant increase in strength when the time spent training jumps to 3 times per week.
When you look at studies of children training once or twice per week, there is a significant increase in the strength of the children who train twice per week.

What Does The Research Mean?

The research points towards the “sweet spot” of strength training somewhere between 2 and 3 times per week.
I typically recommend most people strength train roughly 3 days per week to make sure they hit that minimum effective dose, especially if they are not getting any other activity in during the week.
You could also consider adding a 4th day if you have a flexible schedule and have strength or sport-specific goals. In this case, make sure to deload your training and take a recovery week every month or so.

3 Rules If You Lift Weights 2-3 Times A Week

There is nothing wrong with only training 2 or 3 times a week, and most of the research shows that this is the perfect amount for most adults. As I mentioned, you should strive to lift weights 3 times a week, but if you can only make it twice, you will still get most of the benefits.

1. Full-Body Workouts

You will be able to train harder at each session, as most people’s bodies tend to recover faster from full body workouts.

2. Train Each Movement During Each Workout

Think in terms of movements, not muscles. You want to press and pull both horizontally (bench or row) and vertically (pull up or military press). For your legs, make sure to squat, deadlift, and train single-leg exercises.

You can train your core each day as long as you choose a different exercise (plank, side plank, anti-rotation holds.) 

3. Switch it up every 3-4 weeks

Your body will adapt to certain programs or exercises over time, so make sure to make your workouts progressively harder by doing different exercise variations, changing the sets and reps, and decreasing your rest time.
Strive to continually challenge your body and your limits.

4 Rules If You Lift Weights 4 Times A Week

If you have a more flexible schedule, are training for a sport, or are trying to make some serious changes to your physique, training 4 times a week might be the way to go. Again, it’s not necessary to get amazing results from your workout routine. But hey, it doesn’t hurt either.

1. Full-Body Workouts or Split Body Parts

When you train 4 days a week you can still train full-body each day, but if you are training to improve strength I recommend an upper/lower body split. This means you will train upper/lower/upper/lower throughout the week.

2. Train Each Movement 1x/Week

I recommend spending each day focusing on a specific movement pattern and choosing 2-3 exercises that train that movement.
Day 1: Horizontal Push/Pull (ex. bench press and dumbbell rows)
Day 2: Squats and Lunges
Day 3: Vertical Push/Pull (ex. pull ups and 1-arm dumbbell military press)
Day 4: Deadlifts and Hip Thrusts

3. Try Not To Train More Than 2 Days In A Row

It’s ok to train 2 days in a row, but I wouldn’t advise any more than that. Doing too many consecutive lifting sessions could affect your performance and increase your risk of injury.
Rest is a critical component of improving your strength, fitness, and body composition. It’s during rest that your body rebuilds and repairs your muscle tissue, so it’s always a good idea to take rest days to ensure proper recovery. This will allow you to keep training heavy week in and week out.

4. Deload Every 4-6 Weeks

Deloading doesn’t mean not lifting at all, just lightening it up a bit. You can either decrease the number of sets you do, the amount of weight used, or even skip a few workouts during this week to allow your body to recover more fully and repair damaged tissue. Believe it or not, this will actually help your progress.

To See Results – Lift Weights The Way It Works For You

The optimal number of days to lift weights per week ultimately depends on your goals and your schedule, but planning your training sessions ahead will allow you to get the best possible results for you. The best number to shoot for is three days a week, with two as a minimum and four as a maximum.
I’ll also add a disclaimer that you should be doing more to stay active than just lifting weights! Three days of strength training is great but make sure to get out, enjoy life and use that hard-earned muscle!

Can I Eat Pasta And Still Lose Weight?

Let’s role-play for a second – you’re a health conscious person who’s trying to lose a few pounds and shed some body fat. Now, imagine you’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes by to take your order.
You already know that the fish and chips, or the burger and fries might not be the best option considering your current goals.
You find yourself debating between a “healthier choice” of either grilled chicken or sautéed fish. You get the chicken, and then the waiter asks you to choose a side. You have 3 options: (1) a baked potato, (2) penne pasta, or (3) brown rice.
Which option would you choose, and why? In the context of losing weight, which side dish do you think best supports your goals?
Do you have your answer? How many of you chose brown rice?
What if I told you that the penne pasta would be the best choice? You might be surprised to learn that of those 3 side dishes, penne pasta has the lowest glycemic index.

The Glycemic Index and Fat Loss

While glycemic index (GI) is only one measure of evaluating a food, the fact that pasta has a lower GI does make it a more attractive option.
It’s inarguable that calorie intake has the biggest impact on the whole fat loss equation, but controlling your blood sugar levels by opting for lower glycemic foods definitely plays a role in weight and fat loss as well.
So, contrary to popular opinion, you can eat pasta and still lose weight. But this doesn’t mean you should make pasta the foundation of every meal. The key to eating pasta and getting a lean is to control your portions.

Strategies to Stay Lean While Eating Pasta

These 3 strategies will help you eat pasta while losing body fat:

1. Keep Your Portion Size In Check

Look to the Italians on this one. They love their pasta in Italy and eat it pretty much every day, sometimes even multiple times a day! How many obese Italians do you see? Not many.
The issue with pasta is that it’s very calorie dense (meaning that it contains a lot of calories per gram of food), making it very easy to overeat. But it all comes down to portion sizes. A single serving of pasta will do very little harm to your fat loss goals.
So if you keep your portion sizes under control, you should be just fine. One serving equals 1 cup of cooked pasta.
Pro Tip: When eating pasta, make it your side dish to complement a bigger portion of protein and veggies. See recipe below.

2. Choose Your Sauce Carefully (Or Make Your Own)

When I was a kid, I used to love fettuccini alfredo. The cream, the cheese, the fettuccini – it was incredible! I would order it every time my family went out to dinner.
But now that I’m an adult, I don’t eat it anymore. That is, unless I’m looking to pack on some weight. Why? Because alfredo sauce is loaded with calories – almost 900 calories in one jar!
When you decide to eat pasta, watch out for any cream-based sauces, especially when you eat at a restaurant. These dishes are guaranteed to be loaded with calories, and generally contain a much larger serving than if you were to make it at home.
But even if you avoid cream-based sauces, it’s important to be mindful of any store bought tomato sauces as well. Most contain added sugars, some variety of low quality refined oil, and possibly even corn syrup.
When you buy pasta sauce at the store, select one that’s tomato-based, contains no added sugars, and is made with olive oil.
Otherwise, you can try making your own sauce. It doesn’t have to be complicated and actually can be done in less then 5 minutes. Check out the recipe below
Pro Tip: Make your own basic sauce with garlic, olive oil, and basil with the simple below recipe.

3. Eat Pasta Post-Workout

After an intense workout, your muscle cells are more receptive to carbohydrates meaning you can safely consume carbohydrate-rich foods with little damage to your fat loss goals. There are two primary reasons for this:
• You need to replenish your glycogen (carbohydrates) stores, which get depleted by intense exercise.
• Intense exercise induces specific hormonal responses that make you more insulin sensitive post-workout.
This is why the bodybuilders at the gym freak the hell out if they can’t get their protein and carb shake right after a workout. It’s this post-workout anabolic window that they are trying to take advantage of.
While the research differs slightly on the duration of this post workout window, it is a safe bet to consume pasta within a 2-hour period post workout.
It’s important to note – this is a variation of “nutrient timing”, which is an advanced nutrition strategy that only works if you have a solid nutritional foundation already in place.
Pro Tip: Plan a pasta night after an intense strength workout that you do later in the day, preferably within 2 hours of eating dinner.

Regular vs Whole Grain Pasta

While regular pasta can definitely be a part of a fat loss diet, the same serving size of whole grain pasta packs a lot more nutrition with fewer calories.

Regular Pasta

Sure, regular pasta might be enriched with specific nutrients, including iron and b-vitamins, but it lacks dietary fiber which means that it’s less satiating. Without dietary fiber, regular pasta is digested faster and the sugars are released into your bloodstream more rapidly. This could cause you to be hungrier sooner, especially if you don’t include lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats in your pasta dish.

Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta, on the other hand, contains trace minerals like selenium in addition to b-vitamins and iron, and also has more dietary fiber. You’ll probably find a bowl of whole grain pasta to be more satiating, keeping you full for a longer period of time. If you add some protein and vegetables, you have a nutrient-dense meal that also keeps your blood sugar levels more stable.
NutritionRegular Enriched SpaghettiWhole Grain Spaghetti
Carbohydrates43 g37 g
Fat1 g1 g
Protein8 g7 g
Dietary Fiber3 g6g

Quick & Simple Healthy Pasta Recipe

Now that you know the best strategies to eat pasta on a fat loss diet, try this delicious and protein-rich recipe after your next workout:

Penne Pasta with Garlic Basil Chicken & Veggies

2 cups whole grain pasta, cooked
6 cloves garlic
3 chicken breasts, precooked
3 cups broccoli & cauliflower
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup fresh basil, diced
1 tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Boil about 6 cups water.
2. Dice the garlic and basil, and chop the cooked chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
3. Add the pasta to boiling water. Turn the heat to medium and set a timer according to package instructions.*
4. In a large pan, sauté garlic on medium heat for 2 minutes olive oil. Add in cooked veggies and cubed chicken. Sauté for additional 2 minutes.
5. Remove the pasta from heat and drain the water.
6. Add pasta, basil and butter to large sautéing pan with veggies and chicken. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes, or until the chicken and veggies are warm.
7. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and serve it up!

*Cook pasta to al-dente, slightly firm to the bite. I would sample the pasta about 2-3 minutes before the recommended cook time to make sure you don’t overcook it. Overcooking pasta is a double-whammy – it not only tastes bad, but it also boosts the glycemic effect.

Nutrition: Makes 3 servings.
Per Serving:
460 calories, 40 g protein, 23 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 23g fiber
I hope this article gave you some useful tools to help you make better decisions about your nutrition. Now you know that, with a few simple strategies, you can eat pasta and stay lean. Give this recipe a try! 

High Reps vs. Low Reps: Which is Better?

If you walk into most gyms today, you’ll see a major contrast between the weights used by men and women.
Some women will curl 5 pound dumbbells for 25 reps in an effort to “tone” their arms, while some guys will bench a ton of weight for only a few reps in an effort to put on muscle and increase strength.
The idea is that high reps help you lose fat and make a muscle more “toned”. On the other hand, low reps can help you build muscle and increase strength.
Is it really this simple? High reps for fat loss and low reps for strength and muscle building?
In this article, you will learn why it’s a smart idea to use both low and high rep ranges in your workout regimen if you want to build muscle, lose fat, or simply improve overall physical fitness. You will also learn why you can build muscle, increase strength, or lose fat with just about any rep range, but some rep ranges are more optimal than others for each training outcome. Finally, in terms of time-efficiency, safety, and overall effectiveness, the ideal rep ranges to elicit the greatest changes in body composition (both fat loss and muscle building) likely occur within the 6-12 rep range.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: The Strength Continuum

The Strength Continuum is a framework where strength and endurance exist on a continuum that defines the relationship between weight, reps, and training outcome. Strength is represented by the 1 repetition maximum (1RM), which is the maximum weight that can be lifted for one rep, and endurance is the ability to exert a lower force repeatedly over time.
Low repetitions with heavy weight increases strength, whereas high repetitions with light weight increases endurance. According to the concept, as repetitions increase there is a gradual transition from strength to endurance.
Below is a commonly used graph of the strength continuum. The training outcome “Hypertrophy”, which means muscle-building is not an entirely accurate label as you’ll learn more about in a moment.
This framework also works in line with our understanding of muscle fiber types. High reps develop Type 1 muscle fibers (“slow twitch”) that are endurance based and slow to fatigue. Lower repetitions activate Type 2 muscle fibers (“fast twitch”), which have greater power but fatigue quickly.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Strength

For optimal strength increases, the research conclusively supports low reps with heavy weight vs. high reps with light weight, but high reps can still elicit gains in strength as well.
For example, in one study, 23 cyclists were placed into high resistance/low repetition (LR), low resistance/high repetition (HR), or cycling-only groups for a 10-week program.
There were substantial strength gains in all 4 resistance training exercises tested for both LR and HR groups, but the LR group had “significantly” greater strength gains than the HR group in the leg press exercise. Interestingly, muscle hypertrophy and overall endurance was relatively equal.
As this study and many others highlight, for optimal strength gains, lift relatively heavier weight for low reps. This is in line with how Powerlifters train for competitions to help increase neuromuscular adaptation, which is the efficiency of the brain to control the muscles. You can get stronger as a result of increase in muscle size OR increase in neuromuscular adaptation.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Fat Loss

Some believe heavy weights are only good for building muscle, but what about fat loss? Can lifting heavier help you burn more fat, or does it turn you into the hulk?
One study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that dieters who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as dieters who did just cardio, but all the weight lost by the weight lifters was fat while the cardio group lost muscle along with some fat.3. The common belief is that high reps magically get rid of fat. While high reps with light weight to fatigue can create a muscular response, it does not necessarily remove fat better than low reps with heavy weight.
While more studies are needed to compare the fat loss effects of high reps vs. low reps, substantial evidence is mounting that it’s not necessarily the amount of weight that is used, or the number of repetitions that helps burn the most fat, but the intensity of the workout. The goal is to create muscular failure with less rest between exercises, which can have powerful hormonal, metabolic, and calorie burn effects. In addition, for fat loss, proper nutrition will have a MUCH greater impact on fat loss than the specific rep range, or even workout.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Building Muscle

Similar to fat loss, the number of rep ranges that is optimal for muscle building is open to debate and the research is inconclusive. Most research points to reps under 15 reps as being better for muscle building, but other research shows muscle building can be equally effective with light weight and high reps.
For example, a recent study of resistance-trained young men found that light weight with high reps, performed until failure, was equally effective in stimulating muscle proteins as a heavy weight with low reps.
There is a common misconception that lifting heavier weights automatically helps you build muscle. That’s not the case at all. In fact, how much you eat in combination with the overall volume and intensity of the workout and how it becomes more challenging over time will make the difference, not necessarily the weight/reps. 
If you eat relatively less calories than you burn, you can lift very, very heavy weight and most likely not gain an ounce of muscle mass. This especially applies to women who have 1/10 the amount of the muscle-building hormone testosterone as men. In a calorie deficit, increases in strength are likely due to neuromuscular adaptation and not increases in muscle mass.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: Putting It All Together

So now we know just about any rep range can help you increase strength, build muscle, or lose fat, but what ranges should you use? What should be your focus? The following proposes what may be optimal rep ranges based on specific goals.

Primary Goal – Increasing Strength

Strength – Under 6 reps (80-100% of exercise volume)
Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (0-20% of exercise volume)
Endurance – 15+ reps (0-10% of exercise volume)
The top strength athletes in the world spend the vast majority of their time lifting very heavy weight for low reps. While we know higher rep ranges can also create strength gains, lower reps are optimal.

Primary Goal – Optimal Fat Loss

Strength – Under 6 reps (0-15% of exercise volume)
Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (70-85% of exercise volume)
Endurance – 15+ reps (15% of exercise volume)
As stated earlier, the intensity of the workout is more important than the specific rep ranges for fat loss, but the following is a smart approach that combines what I consider the “sweet spot” of the 6-15 reps, which can further be broken down into 6-10 and 10-15. For less advanced lifters and the general population, those ranges can be changed slightly to 8-12, and 12-15.
There a couple very compelling benefits of the 6-15 rep range. First, you are getting significant muscle stimulation with much less chance of injury than lifting very heavy weights for low reps (under 6 reps). Second, it takes less time to workout than using 15+ reps all the time, which does not offer much added benefit. If you are a beginner, I recommend against using under 12 reps. 
If you don’t want to push yourself with low reps, there isn’t any need to go below 6 reps, or even below 10 reps if you are older, or fear getting injured. Lifting in multiple rep ranges will help stimulate a maximum amount of muscle fibers to help burn fat and improve overall fitness.
So how do you implement high and low rep ranges in your workouts? There are few primary options (1) complete low and high reps in the same workout using different exercises, (2) start out with higher reps (say 15 reps) and go down in reps as you complete multiple sets for a given exercise, or (3) change up your workouts, so that some are geared towards strength vs. endurance.

Primary Goal – Building Muscle

Strength – Under 6 reps (30% of exercise volume)
Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (60% of exercise volume)
Endurance – 15+ reps (10% of exercise volume)
As you learned before, while research shows it is possible to build muscle with lighter weights, the traditional method is to lift relatively heavier weights and increase those weights over time. Of course, genetics play an important factor as does the composition of muscle fibers from one muscle to the next and one individual to the next.
I hope this article was enlightening to help dispel some of the common myths associated with lifting weights and has empowered you with useful information you can apply to your current exercise regimen.