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Can I strength train two muscle groups in one day (Basically - can I strength train 2 times a week, instead of 4 times a week)?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 23, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Usually my strength training plan is to work one muscle group a day (either upper, lower, or core), 4 times a week. (around 15lbs weights, 20-30 reps. For less than 30 minutes each day). I'd like to strength train only 2 times a week.

I was wondering instead of working 1 muscle group a day, 4 times a week, if I could work 2 muscle groups in 1 day. Like instead of working out my upper body on Monday, and lower body on Tuesday (2 separate days), can I just work out my upper AND lower body on Monday (one day). This way I can reduce the amount of days I work out to just 2 days a week.

My goal is to build more muscle, not get bulky and lose weight. I have over 30lbs to lose. I'm eating very low to moderate carb (less than 90 grams of carbs a day). I try to walk 2 miles 3 days a week, along with some Pilates and biking for fun.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on March 27, 2012
at 06:58 AM

I'm sorry, but it's not *definitely* better. In all likelihood, with the intensity being considered, twice a week is a good point to aim for. But there are more than enough people around who insist that you'll lose terribly valuable muscle if you stop lifting heavy weights for even 24 hours. I don't think that's a constructive point of view. It's easy to check though - if you're not lifting more (either more weight, more reps or quicker) at your next workout then you haven't recovered. I'd definitely recommend doing full-body though.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 07:59 PM

If you do full body workout twice a week, that's definitely better than once a week. 3-4 times a week is the usually preferred/recommended lifting frequency. But don't trust guidelines: test one system out for a few weeks, then another, and see which works best!

3654b5b893e312b69f8db05e4e5175b5

on March 24, 2012
at 05:10 PM

Wisper: So you think that working out my entire body 1x a week isn't a good idea? What ab combining my strength training into two days instead of 4 days?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 24, 2012
at 04:15 AM

Yeah, it works for me, but I tend to mix it up as well. Sometimes I work all muscle groups in one workout by doing circuits, usually 1 big circuit every two weeks, then these 2-muscle group work-outs a couple times a week. I think any lifting is great, and that it can be arranged according to your schedule and what you want to do- all you can do is try it! You will know pretty quick if it feels like it's for you. Give it a 2-3 week trial maybe? Good length of time to see if it's a good fit.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 24, 2012
at 02:29 AM

Reading comprehension FTW. I was careful to explain at every point that a SUDDEN increase in bulking is a non-issue for women. I'm not saying bulking can't and won't happen, but it's not some insidious inevitability that creeps up on you. All women have to do is look at the mirror, and adjust their training if they start becoming too bulky. I'm done here.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 24, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Whisper, go listen to the pod cast I referenced. Crossfit-style workouts do tend to actually bulk women more easily then men. After listening to that pod cast, I realized that all the hard-core crossfit guys I know are lean and tough and pretty wirey, but all the hard-core crossfit women are bulky. Granted there's selection bias there, but there is something to the type of working out you do that tends to enable bulking in women.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 24, 2012
at 12:32 AM

That's my point exactly: worrying about bulking up is a non-issue, and women who still think it is in 2012 should be educated that they most likely CAN'T get bulky even if they tried. For those with the genes and determination to get bulky it doesn't happen overnight.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 24, 2012
at 12:30 AM

A week off is too long for optimal gains. Typical recooperation period of a muscle is 24-72 hours depending on the intensity.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 10:49 PM

Plus, I'm a lady that bulks up pretty easily. I don't mind being bulky, but I'm sure there's stocky mesomorphs out there that don't want that look. It is useful for us stocky minority ;)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 10:49 PM

But @Wisper many women are convinced they couldn't possibly lift heavy weights without bulking up- when using weights that challenge you both improve your outcomes and make the process of weight lifting more engaging and exciting. I think this just helps shed light on "hey, it will be okay" even if you lift heavy.

3654b5b893e312b69f8db05e4e5175b5

on March 23, 2012
at 09:19 PM

I'm a noob and didn't know this... But really? I can work out everything in one day and recover for a week?

3654b5b893e312b69f8db05e4e5175b5

on March 23, 2012
at 09:13 PM

Thanks! I was planning to do something similar. I figure If i only really work out my legs and arms 1x a week anyway, what's the difference if I do it on the same day? But was this effective for you?

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:58 PM

That's a non-issue. Again: women don't have the testosterone to suddenly bulk up too much. Not even men do.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:57 PM

That's a non-issue. Again: women don't have the testosterone to suddenly bulk up too much.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:57 PM

That's a non-issue. Again: women don't have the testosterone to suddenly realized they've bulked up too much.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:47 PM

Awesome, good idea to post!

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5 Answers

1
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on March 23, 2012
at 09:16 PM

Get this. You can even train all your muscles on the same day and at the same time! Ok, maybe not exactly all, but few fitness programs these days would advocate isolating muscle groups. Work out, get your whole body involved and engaged, then lie back and recover for a week and let the muscles grow.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 24, 2012
at 12:30 AM

A week off is too long for optimal gains. Typical recooperation period of a muscle is 24-72 hours depending on the intensity.

3654b5b893e312b69f8db05e4e5175b5

on March 24, 2012
at 05:10 PM

Wisper: So you think that working out my entire body 1x a week isn't a good idea? What ab combining my strength training into two days instead of 4 days?

3654b5b893e312b69f8db05e4e5175b5

on March 23, 2012
at 09:19 PM

I'm a noob and didn't know this... But really? I can work out everything in one day and recover for a week?

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on March 27, 2012
at 06:58 AM

I'm sorry, but it's not *definitely* better. In all likelihood, with the intensity being considered, twice a week is a good point to aim for. But there are more than enough people around who insist that you'll lose terribly valuable muscle if you stop lifting heavy weights for even 24 hours. I don't think that's a constructive point of view. It's easy to check though - if you're not lifting more (either more weight, more reps or quicker) at your next workout then you haven't recovered. I'd definitely recommend doing full-body though.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 25, 2012
at 07:59 PM

If you do full body workout twice a week, that's definitely better than once a week. 3-4 times a week is the usually preferred/recommended lifting frequency. But don't trust guidelines: test one system out for a few weeks, then another, and see which works best!

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:42 PM

I just wanted to comment on the "bulk up" part of your question. I have no real opinion on optimal training schedules, I've done it all and they've all worked in some way for me.

But back to you bulking question. Check out the paleo solution pod cast #121, specifically question #8 about women getting bulky. The quick summary is that you should do low-volume, high-weight if you want to train the neurological strength without getting bulky. The traditional advice of going low and slow or fast and light (like crossfit) is what's good at bulking you up. Greg Everett has a good discussion on there and I can't do it justice, so take a listen yourself.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 10:49 PM

But @Wisper many women are convinced they couldn't possibly lift heavy weights without bulking up- when using weights that challenge you both improve your outcomes and make the process of weight lifting more engaging and exciting. I think this just helps shed light on "hey, it will be okay" even if you lift heavy.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 24, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Whisper, go listen to the pod cast I referenced. Crossfit-style workouts do tend to actually bulk women more easily then men. After listening to that pod cast, I realized that all the hard-core crossfit guys I know are lean and tough and pretty wirey, but all the hard-core crossfit women are bulky. Granted there's selection bias there, but there is something to the type of working out you do that tends to enable bulking in women.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 24, 2012
at 12:32 AM

That's my point exactly: worrying about bulking up is a non-issue, and women who still think it is in 2012 should be educated that they most likely CAN'T get bulky even if they tried. For those with the genes and determination to get bulky it doesn't happen overnight.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:57 PM

That's a non-issue. Again: women don't have the testosterone to suddenly realized they've bulked up too much.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:57 PM

That's a non-issue. Again: women don't have the testosterone to suddenly bulk up too much.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:47 PM

Awesome, good idea to post!

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:58 PM

That's a non-issue. Again: women don't have the testosterone to suddenly bulk up too much. Not even men do.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 10:49 PM

Plus, I'm a lady that bulks up pretty easily. I don't mind being bulky, but I'm sure there's stocky mesomorphs out there that don't want that look. It is useful for us stocky minority ;)

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 24, 2012
at 02:29 AM

Reading comprehension FTW. I was careful to explain at every point that a SUDDEN increase in bulking is a non-issue for women. I'm not saying bulking can't and won't happen, but it's not some insidious inevitability that creeps up on you. All women have to do is look at the mirror, and adjust their training if they start becoming too bulky. I'm done here.

1
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 23, 2012
at 08:29 PM

I usually do weights just twice a week- usually upper, with some abs, then lower, with some abs (can't handle long ab sessions, so split it up into two). Mostly because of time constraints- my preference when I have lots of time is to do 4 very short weight sessions throughout the week. It definitely can be done, workouts can be as flexible as you need them to be. The twice a week is working fine for me- tend to use heavier weights and fewer reps before moving on because I have more recovery in between workouts.

Glad to see girls lifting though! I always feel weird being the only female in the weight pit, and so many girls are just paranoid about getting "bulky" which just takes ages to happen for most people. I bulk up quicker than most females I know (stocky mesomorph body type) but most people say that I actually look smaller when I lift, because my arms (which you tend to see more, hello sleeveless) slim out and look firm. Muscles feel good, so just try out a few different workouts and see what works for you! Everyone is different, and it has to fit in your schedule otherwise it is not going to get done.

3654b5b893e312b69f8db05e4e5175b5

on March 23, 2012
at 09:13 PM

Thanks! I was planning to do something similar. I figure If i only really work out my legs and arms 1x a week anyway, what's the difference if I do it on the same day? But was this effective for you?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 24, 2012
at 04:15 AM

Yeah, it works for me, but I tend to mix it up as well. Sometimes I work all muscle groups in one workout by doing circuits, usually 1 big circuit every two weeks, then these 2-muscle group work-outs a couple times a week. I think any lifting is great, and that it can be arranged according to your schedule and what you want to do- all you can do is try it! You will know pretty quick if it feels like it's for you. Give it a 2-3 week trial maybe? Good length of time to see if it's a good fit.

0
9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on March 23, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Yes. 3-4 times a week of intense weight training is the usual schedule for casual lifters. Some do a split - I'm currently on leg day / pulling day / pushing day 3-day split -, while others do full body workout 3-4 times a week.

Try the new split routine for a few weeks, and compare your progress to previous, and adjust if necessary.

And don't worry about getting bulky. You don't have the testosterone to all of a sudden wake up like Arnold Schwarzenegger; you'll have plenty of warning before you get too bulky - which is an unlikely scenario for vast majority for women.

Oh and if your goal is to lose fat and gain muscle, all that cardio is not helping much.

-2
07cd41bd4f3bafc75ad0d2669a2256e7

on March 25, 2012
at 05:24 PM

Surely you can do it for the betterment of your health.Is the best thing to train yourself according to your need.If you do it forcefully you won't get very good results.

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