Weight Training Schedule

This guy REALLY needs a weight training schedule!


What Type of Weight Training Schedule Should You Follow?

This question about weight training schedule is asked quite often, and the answer is surprisingly simple. 

Because muscles should not be worked every day, plan to work the muscles two or three times per week. The best news is that there is no scheduling excuse to not weight train.  

Divide your workouts so they fit into YOUR schedule each week.

Personally, I separate my workouts into upper and lower body so that I work each group twice per week.  Sometimes, I will add a third workout to certain muscles. You might prefer to do your entire body in one workout.  


Weight Training Principles

No matter how you approach it, you must bear in mind the three principles phases of weight training discussed below.

Muscle develops because exercise tears the muscle down, and that trauma sends signals that the tissue needs to be repaired.   


Phase 1 -- Resistance

This principle has been around since the late 1940s.

In weight training, you must repeatedly place a demand on the muscle for a minimum number of reps and sets in order for it to grow.  Increased strength and growth is the result of the muscle adapting to that demand over time.  

For upper body, that would be a weight that you can control for 8 - 12 repetitions. 

For the lower body, use a weight that you can lift with control for 12 – 15 repetitions.  

If you can do more than 12 repetitions on the upper body or more than 15 on the lower body, it’s time to slightly increase the weight you are using for that body part to keep the repetitions within range.  

Do more than one set. Studies show that 3 sets are better than one for maximal strength gain.

Having to increase the weight means that your muscle has adapted to the demand you are placing on it, and you are making progress. Increasing resistance over time is essential.

If you have not lifted weights in a long time, or if you have never weight trained before, start with very light weights to learn the proper form.

Be patient with your body! You are pushing the muscles to perform. You are not forcing them.

Both maintaining control of the weight and using proper form are critical.

Never jerk the weight.  The movement should be smooth and controlled. 


Phase 2 -- Rest

I often see people in the gym rest for long periods between sets.  Unless you are a power lifter or Godzilla, you are missing out on some great gains in muscle adaptation.

My rule of thumb – Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between each set. You want the muscle to rest, but you don't want it to recover. Recovery is a totally different phase.

For a refresher on the meaning of the terms "set" and "repetition," check out Weight Training For Beginners


Phase 3 -- Recovery

I cannot stress this phase enough. 

Recovery is especially important as we age. Proper recovery is absolutely crucial to allow the muscles to repair and grow stronger. 

Your weight training schedule should allow at least 48 hours of rest for each muscle group.

Never lift weights for any body part two days in a row.   

You can complete a full-body workout in about 45 minutes if you use your time wisely. 

Train muscle groups two to three times each week.

Three times per week is not necessary if you are working with sufficient intensity. 


More Good News About Your Weight Training Schedule

Remember. It is YOUR weight training schedule, and this website is a no-excuses website.

If all you can do is one session on a particular week for any and all muscle groups, increase the intensity of your training on that day. Instead of three sets, do four or five sets.  Do pyramids or hundreds to mix it up a bit. Muscles tend to respond very well to this approach.  

Mix it up!  Keep it fun!



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DO NOT BEGIN A STRENGTH TRAINING OR EXERCISE PROGRAM WITHOUT CHECKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR FOR ANY UNDERLYING CONDITION THAT MAY PREVENT YOU FROM DOING SO. 

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