The more you work out the better, right? Wrong. There are 3 things that contribute to muscle growth; diet, exercise, and rest. All 3 of these things must be adhered to in the correct proportions to one another or you’re not going to obtain the best possible results. Worst of all, you’re not being efficient. Over-training is a common mistake made by many people trying to build muscle.
They think, “The more I lift weights, the more my muscles will grow”. This is true to a certain point, but if you’ve ever taken economics, then you’ve heard of “the law of diminishing returns”. At a certain point, you may even start noticing negative returns meaning your workouts are actually breaking down muscle. Working out seven days a week for two hours a day is not the most effective use of your time.
When you over-train, your body is constantly breaking down muscle for energy while you’re trying to build it up. You can combat this, to a certain degree, by taking in more calories but your body can only grow so fast. It’s better to train, eat, and rest in the right amounts so that you have a good balance rather than over-training and neglecting diet and rest.
There is a popular book called The 4-Hour Body that includes a training program in which you only workout once every five days and you meticulously control your diet . This type of program will work much better than a program in which you train excessively and eat whatever you want. Diet is the most important tool you have when it comes to getting your body in the type of shape you want. With the right diet, you can burn body fat and build muscle at the same time without having to work out constantly.
The optimal training amount for you depends on you personally. It depends on your goals, the amount of time you can spend in the gym, how well you are going to be able to control your diet, and how much rest you can get.
If you’re trying to build muscle but you know you don’t eat very much and you’re not willing to eat on a frequent schedule, then you can benefit from lifting weights only 2-3 times per week. You can train your body 5 times per week, but with this type of schedule you have to commit your life to your training program, diet, and rest.
Since most people cannot do this, I recommend lifting weights 2-3 times per week and doing cardio at least once per week. Most people can handle a program like this. Working out for over an hour is unnecessary and can work against you. If you go at a fast pace, you’ll have plenty of time to get all of your sets in within 60 minutes.
Six-time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates, uses an analogy about over-training. He compares over-training to rubbing a piece of sandpaper on your hand; You will begin to wear away the skin until it’s torn and needs to be repaired, but before your body can repair that skin you start rubbing the sandpaper on it again.
Over-training does the same thing to your muscles; You never have a chance to grow because your muscles are constantly being torn down before they can repair the damage that is done. He also says training each body part only once per week is plenty. Any more than that and your body won’t have enough time to fully recover for the next workout. This is one of the best bodybuilders of all time that we’re talking about and he only suggests working each body part once per week!
If you don’t have a lot of time to work out, you can definitely workout once or twice per week and see great results as long as your diet is on point. For someone who is only doing 1 to 2 workouts per week, it is best to combine cardio, resistance training, stretching, and athletic movements all in the same workout. Yoga is probably one of the best overall workouts you can do.