Should I be lifting weights everyday to gain muscle? This is probably one of the most common questions every skinny dude has when they begin their lifting journey. And today, I will be giving you some clarity on the matter!
If your goal is to gain muscle, it is not recommended to lift weights everyday. A 3 to 6 day training week should be adopted instead. This provides sufficient rest for the muscles between workouts, allows for progressive overload, and prevents overtraining. These factors will promote the best muscle gains.
Throughout my own weight lifting journey, I have personally fallen victim to overtraining.
And instead of giving my muscles the rest they deserve, I decided to keep pushing (in an attempt to bulk up my own skinny bod!).
As a result, I was fatigued and my muscles were simply not performing.
This is why I now want to share my research and experience with you!
- The Benefits Of Lifting Weights Every Day
- Lifting Weights Everyday May Be Counter Productive For You To Gain Muscle:
- Completing Training Volume Vs Lifting Weights Everyday
- Lifting Weights Everyday is Unnecessary To Satisfy Training Volume
- How To Reach Your Training Volume With 3 To 6 Training Days
The Benefits Of Lifting Weights Every Day
First, let’s set one thing straight- physical activity in general (including lifting weights) is good for your body.
In fact, The WHO recommends that you do at least 2 days of moderate to high intensity weight lifting every week (thats’s if you are between 18-64 years of age). (1)
Furthermore, they do not specify a cap on the maximum number of days per week you should be lifting weights.
So by all means, you can lift weights every day. And this will actually help you to lose weight or burn fat.(2)
However, it’s a completely different ball game if you are a skinny guy trying to build muscle.
And if your goal IS to gain muscle, then lifting weights everyday may not be the best route forward for you.(3)
This is because the muscle building process needs to be nurtured. Just like painting a wall requires you to wait until a second coat can be applied, you need to provide time for your muscles to rest in order for them to grow.
Lifting weights intensely on a daily basis is actually akin to applying a second coat of paint before the first coat has even dried.
In other words, it will probably not produce good results!
I will now explain below.
But before i do- If you want to learn the best way to gain muscle, check out my tips to build muscle!
The Day You Plant The Seed, Is Not The Day You Eat The Fruit.Unknown
Lifting Weights Everyday May Be Counter Productive For You To Gain Muscle:
As a skinny guy who is relatively new to weight lifting, it can be tempting for you to want to lift weights everyday.
Heck, you need to make those muscle gains quickly right?!
And trust me, I’ve been in your position before. I was also eager and keen to start making gains.
But lifting weights everyday can actually be counter-productive in your efforts to gain muscle. This could be due to one or more of the following 3 reasons:
- Sufficient rest cannot be achieved
- Regular overloading cannot be achieved.
- Risk of overtraining increases.
All 3 reasons can limit your muscle’s ability to grow and become larger. And heres why:
1. Sufficient Rest Cannot be Achieved
Firstly, when you lift weights everyday, you are not allowing your muscles to rest.
To understand why resting is important for gaining muscle, you should know how your muscles grow.
When you lift weights, your muscles are presented with 2 challenges:(4)
- Mechanical stress.
- Metabolic stress.
Mechanical stress refers to the the physical resistance applied to the muscle fibres as you perform weight lifting. This resistance, if intense, will cause physical damage to your muscle fibres. And these are known as micro-tears. (5)
In contrast, metabolic stress refers to the chemicals and molecular by-products released by your muscles in response to energy production. And these include substances such as lactate, reactive oxygen species, and ion species.(6)
Both mechanical and metabolic stresses will damage your muscle fibres. And when your body repairs the damaged muscle fibres, they become larger and more numerous.
When this occurs repeatedly, muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs. And this is how you gain muscle.(7)
Therefore, your muscles actually grow during rest, and not during weight lifting.
Consequently, getting sufficient rest is vital if you want to maximise your muscle gains. And this is why lifting weights everyday may prevent you from gaining muscle.
I would recommend giving each muscle group 24 hours to rest between workouts, and up to 48 hours if you are a skinny guy who is new to weight lifting.(8)
2. Regular Overloading Cannot Be Achieved
Secondly, when you lift weights everyday, you are also preventing yourself from effectively overloading your muscles. And overloading is essential to make continual muscle gains as a skinny dude.
Overloading (or progressive overload) describes the act of increasing weight lifting intensity. This can be done in many ways, but the most common method is to simply increase the weight.
And it’s widely recommended to overload with a 10% weight increase when you are ready.
So why is overloading important?
To understand why overloading is important for making muscle gains, take a look at the stimulus-recovery-adaptation curve (SRA curve) below.(9)
As you can see, muscle strength and size actually decreases during and immediately after weight lifting. In fact, it’s only during the subsequent recovery and adaptation phases where you gain muscle.
By regularly overloading your muscle during the adaptation phase, you can expect to gain muscle. And this can be seen in the graph below.
On the other hand, if you don’t let the muscle recover, you are essentially denying your muscles the opportunity to grow.
Therefore, overloading is important to gain muscle as a skinny guy. And if you perform intense weight lifting on a daily basis, you are limiting your opportunity to overload the muscles!
This is why you shouldn’t lift weights everyday to gain muscle.
If you want to find out more about overloading, you can check my guide to building muscle without fat !
3. Risk Of Overtraining Increases
The third and final reason why lifting weights everyday may prevent you gaining muscle is the increased risk of overtraining.
Overtraining is when the volume, frequency, and intensity of your weight lifting exceeds your rate of recovery. To put it simply, overtraining occurs when you are training more than your body can handle!(10)
And by lifting weights everyday, you are significantly increasing your risk of overtraining.
If this happens, your muscles may become fatigued, perform sub-maximally, and become sore. And this will have direct consequences on your ability to gain muscle.(11)
Furthermore, as a skinny guy, your muscles are also likely to be more susceptible to overtraining. This is because they have not yet adapted to high volume weight lifting.
Now, let me clarify myself- lifting weights every day does not necessarily mean you will overtrain.
If you take a smart approach, by keeping each each workout at a lower intensity and duration, you can still expect to gain muscle from lifting 7 days a week.(12)
However, this would not be the most time-efficient way to gain muscle. And it would require you to spend more time at the gym (don’t forget a good warm up and warm down alone should take around 30-40 minutes to complete!).
Additionally, this method would require careful planning to spread all your sets across the entire week (more on sets later!).
Completing Training Volume Vs Lifting Weights Everyday
Training volume describes the total amount of weight you lift every week. And it is defined by your weekly number of sets, reps.
- 10 to 20 sets per muscle group per week.
- 8 to 12 reps per set.
- 60 to 80% lifting capacity (i.e. weight-load).
Therefore, rather than focusing on lifting weights everyday, you ought to be focused on reaching your training volume in a way which also provides your muscles adequate rest and recovery.
In other words- aim to complete your 10 to 20 sets per muscle group per week, with at least 24 hours rest for any given muscle group.
Lifting Weights Everyday is Unnecessary To Satisfy Training Volume
So the impetus is really on satisfying your training volume, and not lifting weights everyday, to gain muscle.
In fact, fitness professionals generally recommend lifting weights 3 to 6 days per week for optimal muscle gains. And this applies for the majority of people.
But why 3 to 6 days specifically?
Does lifting weights 3 to 6 days a week automatically grant you access to unlimited muscle gains?
The reason why lifting weights 3 to 6 days a week is recommended, is because it allows you to complete all your sets throughout the week whilst minimising the risk of overtraining.
You could technically lift weights every day of the week. But if you were to do so, you would have to spread your sets out throughout those 7 days.
In other words, don’t go full out every training session.
Again, the downside of doing this is that it’s not the most time-efficient way to gain muscle.
Additionally, it becomes much easier to risk unintended overtraining when you are limiting your sets this way. This is because you will naturally want to squeeze out more sets in an effort to feel like you are getting the most from a workout.
And by doing so, you risk over training.
Therefore, as a skinny beginner, you should focus on completing your required sets over 3 to 6 training days to maximise muscle gains, save time, and prevent overtraining.
How To Reach Your Training Volume With 3 To 6 Training Days
Now, there are many ways to reach your training volume target without having to lift weights everyday.
The method in which you split your sets across the week is called a training split. And the most popular splits are:
- Muscle group splits
- Push/pull splits.
- Upper/lower body splits
- Full body workouts.
1. Muscle Group Splits
Muscle group splits is exactly what the name implies. Each day, you work a specific muscle group(s).
Bro splits are an example of muscle group splits. They involve working a single muscle group per training session.
This can be an effective method for skinny dudes to begin your lifting journey, due to it’s simplicity.
You basically spend Monday completing your chest exercises, Tuesday completing leg exercises, and so on.
However, for maximum muscle gains, you can make a slight alteration. This involves using each training day to work two (not one) muscle groups.
I call this a Split Volume.
Instead of working a single muscle group each day, you are working on two muscle groups (with less sets).
So for for Monday- instead of doing 20 sets of chest exercises, do 10 sets of chest exercises and 10 sets of back exercises.
This will allow you to hit each muscle group multiple times per week, whilst allowing for at least 24 hours of rest per muscle group.
|Monday||Chest and back|
|Tuesday||Legs and shoulders|
|Wednesday||Arms and core|
|Thursday||Chest and back|
|Friday||Legs and shoulder|
|Saturday||Arms and core|
2. Push/Pull/Leg Splits
Push pull leg splits involve concentrating on pushing, pulling, and leg exercises each day.
A pushing exericse invovles the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
A pulling exercises involves the back, core, and biceps.
And leg exercises involve…..well, the legs!
This kind of split is usually performed over 6 training days, and will allow each muscle group to rest for 48 hours before being hit again.
|Monday||Push (chest, shoulder, triceps)|
|Tuesday||Pull (back, core, biceps)|
|Thursday||Push (chest, shoulder, triceps)|
|Friday||Pull (back, core, biceps)|
3. Upper/Lower Body Splits
Upper/lower body splits involve concentrating on the upper or lower body muscle groups each day.
An upper body exercise be either a push or pull exercise, and each upper body day will involve performing one type of exercise or the other.
A lower body exercise is split between quad exercises and hamstring/glute exercises. Again, each day will involve performing one type of exercise or the other.
The upper/lower body split is usually performed over 4 training days, allowing you to hit each muscle group once with plenty of rest in between.
|Monday||Upper body (push)|
|Tuesday||Lower body (quads)|
|Thursday||Upper body (pull)|
|Friday||Lower body (hamstrings and glutes)|
4. Full Body Workouts
The full body workout involves hitting all your muscle groups in a single workout.
The major perks of the full body workout is it’s simplicity and efficiency. It will allow you to hit all your muscle groups in just 3 training days per week.
This makes it great for beginners who may not yet have developed the drive to workout more than 3 days per week.
Additionally, the full body workouts will allow your muscles 24 hours of rest before being hit again.
Today, I have answered the question “should I be lifting weights everyday to gain muscle?”
Although lifting weights everyday can have it’s benefits, gaining muscle is not one of them.
This is because your muscles require quality rest in order to grow. Additionally, training every day will prevent you from overloading and increase your risk of overtraining.
Instead, you should focus on completing your weekly training volume, whilst also providing your muscles an adequate number of resting days. By doing so, you are setting yourself up for the most muscle gains.
To do this, you can adopt one of the 4 training splits I recommended.
Are you currently lifting weights everyday? Will you be adopting one of the 4 training splits instead?
Please let me know in the comments below! It would be fantastic to see how you progress!
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Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)