How Often should I train to build muscle?

A common question from new clients is how often they need to train to get stronger or build muscle.

From experience I suggest that training twice a week with me is optimal and if they can do something on their own once a week that is even more ideal.


I find that training twice a week with a personal trainer is something people can commit to both timewise and financially (in the short term at least). People find it difficult to commit to more than that for both those reasons.

To train once a week on top of that is even better as resistance training two to three times a week is highly recommended in order to build muscle.

See this review in the journal Sports Medicine

Training once a week is unlikely to have such a positive effect.

But what makes it so?

The response of muscle protein metabolism to a resistance exercise bout lasts for 24-48 hours. The interaction between protein metabolism and any meals consumed in this period will determine the impact of nutrition on muscle changes. When that 48 hours is up, the muscle is no longer making adaptations, unless you train it again.

Hence resistance training once a week may not adequately build muscle, because it does not provide enough repetitive stimulation and has too long a recovery time.

How often should I train


Experiencing strength gains with once-a-week workouts may be mistaken as a sign of increased muscle mass, when it is more likely a sign of improved coordination. Even with once-a-week workouts, the body still learns and adapts to resistance exercises. Therefore, the ability to lift more weight or resistance is primarily due to improved coordination and efficiency of performing those exercises or movements.


Although once-a-week resistance training may not increase muscle mass, it may still serve a purpose within a fitness or resistance program. Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and William J. Kraemer write that resistance training once a week was just as efficient as twice a week for maintaining muscle strength.

Keeping workouts interesting

So if I see you twice a week how do keep your workout interesting and varied while working all the muscle groups?

As a personal trainer I know how to use different exercises and techniques to work the same muscles to get the strength and muscle gains. I can vary the session appropriately, so it doesn’t get boring.