How Often You Need to Hit the Gym
If you’re an absolute beginner or have only been lifting for a few months, you should be working out a minimum of 3 days a week. Research proves this will produce noticeable results without overloading your body. As you improve, move up to 4 days a week.
If you’re someone who’s been doing this for a while (at least a year), 4-5 days is great. “I prefer 4 days because you can allow for recovery days and alternative movements,” Arent says. What he means by alternative movements is it’s not just about getting in the gym: go for a hike, ride a bike, hit the pool. You don’t need to be clanking weights six days a week; that kind of volume is overkill. Go up from 4 to 5 days a week if you’re advanced and looking to add more volume in your training and mass to your body.
Where Cardio Fits In
“We do know cardiovascular exercise of long duration can interfere with strength and hypertrophy gains,” Arent says. “But it also depends on what your goals are.” If you’re a big guy looking to lean out and/or trying to keep your body fat to a minimum, cardio isn’t bad.
BUT, it may be better incorporated as high-intensity intervals. “Brief, shorter bouts of cardio fit more into the type of training you’re doing since it has an anaerobic base,” he explains. “There’s also interesting research that says there may be a positive impact if you do aerobic work in the morning and resistance training later in the day; there seems to be a priming effect that could help with adaptation.” Now, you’re not going to wake up with bowling balls for biceps because you start doing HIIT routines in the morning and traditional lifts at night. But if you do want to continue doing cardio, then this is how you should do it.
After all, cardio is good for you. Muscleheads will say time and time again that it’s a waste of time. But cardio helps your heart and builds better cardiovascular conditioning, which helps with your recovery. So long as the emphasis of your regimen is resistance training, then your road to building the most mass you can in a little over a month will be a fairly smooth one.