Workout frequency must be carefully chosen for optimal muscle growth. If you’re lifting weights every day then you risk overtraining. Likewise, if you’re only lifting once per week then you risk undertraining. Neither will benefit you in getting bigger and stronger. So how often should skinny people work out to build muscle?
Skinny beginners should start with 3 full-body workouts per week to build muscle. This can increase to 4-6 weekly sessions after 3+ months of consistent training. It is crucial to lift heavy and rest each muscle for 24-48 hours between workouts.
As an ex-skinny guy myself, I can tell you this: avoid the mistake I made of training daily. This post explains why it’s ideal to train only a few times a week and how to increase frequency as you get fitter.
- It’s unnecessary to lift heavy every day to maximize muscle growth.
- Beginners should start with 3 full-body workouts per week.
- This can increase to 4-6 workouts per week when readt(depending on the training split adopted).
- Heavy lifting and progressive overload are essential for hypertrophy.
Reasons A Skinny Person Should Not Work Out Every Day
Skinny people generally should not train every day. Performing too many high-intensity workouts throughout the week can lead to overtraining and this impairs the muscle repair and recovery process. Additionally, daily sessions are unnecessary for optimal muscle gains.
The primary reasons why working out every day is not good:
- Daily workouts limit recovery. Your muscles need rest in order to repair the cellular damage that occurs during a high-intensity workout. Maxing out 7 days a week negatively impacts the repair process.
- Muscle growth occurs on rest days. Training simply supplies the hypertrophy (growth) signal to a muscle. It’s only on rest days that muscle protein synthesis actually happens and muscle is built. This is why you are recommended to rest for 24-48 hours after an intense session before working the same muscle again.
- High frequency does not mean more growth. This is a common beginner’s misconception. Yes, increasing training frequency is good. But only to a certain extent. Studies suggest that your muscles stop responding to further training benefits after a certain weekly workload has been reached.
- Time wasted on junk volume. Extending from the previous point- working out for too long or too often is simply unnecessary for a skinny person to get bigger and stronger.
- Daily heavy lifting can lead to overtraining. This happens when a muscle is given more work than it can recover from. You significantly increase the risk of overtraining when you go all out too often.
- Excessive mental and physical fatigue. Speaking from personal experience, lifting heavy weights every day is not sustainable. You quickly become drained and workouts stop becoming enjoyable.
- Burnout reduces program adherence. Overtraining can quickly lead to burnout and completely giving up on your workout program.
Why 3 Workouts Per Week Is Ideal For Skinny People
Now that you know why it’s important not to work out every day as a skinny person looking to build muscle, it becomes clear why a 3-day split is so efficient:
- Efficient progressive overload. This refers to the process of increasing exercise intensity over time to drive hypertrophy. Overloading is essential for skinny people to get bigger. It’s commonly achieved by starting with light weights and lifting progressively heavier weights as you get stronger. Limiting your workouts to 3 times a week gives your muscles the time they need to rest and recuperate. And this allows for efficient overloading.
- Ample rest between workouts. Aiming for 3 weekly sessions allows you to space each workout in a way that ensures each muscle gets 24-48 hours of rest before being trained again. This helps prevent overtraining (which is especially important for skinny people whose muscles have not yet adapted to high-frequency workouts).
- Efficiency in reaching the required volume for hypertrophy. Beginners are generally recommended to complete 10-15 sets per muscle per week for optimal muscle growth (remember it’s also important to lift heavy). 3 workouts per week are sufficient to reach this target (see my example workout below), whilst still allowing your muscles time to recover to progressive overload.
For a timeline of expected muscle gain results, you can check out my other post here.
Example 3-Day Full-Body Split For Beginners
|Total number of workouts per week||3|
Aim to complete 3 sets of the following compound exercises per workout:
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
- Rows or pull-ups.
Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups in a single motion. For example, the bench press works your entire chest and also your arms. By repeating each workout 3 times per week, you reach 9 sets per muscle group per week.
This is a generalized program to show you how beginners can gain the most from a 3-day training week. You can check out my other post for full details of the program I used to build muscle as a skinny guy.
Training Splits To Further Increase Workout Frequency
Training 3 days a week is sufficient for the average skinny person to gain muscle and strength over a long-term period. However, in order to increase the total training volume and maximize muscle gains, some people prefer to increase the frequency once their muscles have adapted.
Here are 3 examples of popular workout splits that allow you to do so:
1) Upper/Lower Body Split
|Total number of workouts per week||4|
Each workout consists of either:
- Upper body exercises- examples include bench presses, rows, pull-ups, shoulder presses, bicep curls, lateral raises, crunches, flyes, and, tricep extensions.
- Lower body exercises- examples include squats, deadlifts, ham curls, quad extensions, and calf raises.
2) Muscle Group Split
|Fri||Legs and abs|
|Total number of workouts per week||5|
Here, each workout focuses on exercises that target a specified muscle group. Commonly adopted by bodybuilders.
3) Push-Pull-Legs (PPL) Split
|Total number of workouts per week||6|
Each workout consists of either:
- Pulling movements- examples include rows, pull-ups, pull-downs, chin-ups, curls, and their variations.
- Pushing movements- examples include presses, extensions, flies, raises, and their variations.
Is It Good For Skinny People To Train Multiple Times Per Day?
Skinny people are generally not recommended to work out more than once per day. It is more time-efficient to perform a single high-intensity workout. Additionally, total time spent training on a given day should not exceed 1 hour.
Elite bodybuilders may choose to work out more than once per day. But this is excessive for the average lifter, let alone a skinny beginner.
If you would like to find out more, you can check out my other post which explains the ideal training duration for skinny people.
Skinny people often get confused about how much they should work out per week.
The ideal frequency for the average beginner is 3 times per week. This can increase to 4-6 days per week once your muscles have adapted to your 3-day training week.
It’s unnecessary (and not recommended) to train at a high intensity for 7 days a week.
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!