Workout isn’t as easy as it looks in pictures and videos. When you actually go for it, you may feel like giving up, especially if you’re working on muscle gain. So can it be made easy while ensuring quick muscle recovery?
Honestly, it's not that hard if you head the right way.
There's no one perfect plan for all. Our bodies are made different and respond differently to the workouts. It also depends a lot on your current level of fitness. If the exercise seems too much at any point, it's a red flag that you are not going in the right direction.
As per a study, you need at least two days of resistance exercises to get the maximum benefit and muscle gain.
Here we'll take a look into the different kinds of workout plans and how to go about a doable schedule suited to your body on a day-by-day basis.
The Workout Plan
Workout is not just about hitting the gym. It involves a host of other activities which do not have to be as strenuous as we may think; like, getting down to those hardcore weights.
This opens the door to an excellent opportunity for those not gifted with immortal strength like the trainers. You can easily set up realistic goals and schedule that suits your body's needs. Before we get down to making the right workout schedule, check where you lie on the experience scale.
Beginner, Novice, or Pro level?
If you are new to the game, here's your reason to smile. It will be a fantastic start off.
Usually, the first quarter or the first six months may be the most muscle gaining. Since it's the start, the body hasn't yet adjusted to your fitness routine. As a result, your workout plan will give you the maximum gains.
However, once this honeymoon period is over, the gains begin to taper down. Another concern that you may have over the long run is muscle soreness or other pains. It’s equally important to give your body rest otherwise the body fails to make quick muscle recovery.
We will cover muscle recovery post-workout, and thankfully, there's a lot you can do. Technical advancements have given us access to tools like the ExoGun that provide easy deep muscle massage therapy at home.
According to this article, here's how to plan your workout depending on the experience level:
- As a beginner, you only need about 2-3 days of exercise. That and two days of cardio
- For a trainee, it is best to workout 3-4 days a week coupled with three days of cardio
- For professionals, it can also go on up to 4-5 days a week with 3-day cardio.
Now, coming back to our main question:
How Often Do You Need to Work Out to Gain Muscle?
Bear in mind that each kind of goal requires an entirely different schedule and activities. For instance, if you wanted to build endurance or lose weight, there would be a completely different schedule.
Since our concern is to gain muscle while allowing the body a quick muscle recovery, here are two main training plans you can follow:
HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training
This is a weekly schedule with a high-intensity workout but in a shorter time coupled with sufficient resting periods in between. This schedule:
- It usually lasts 15 minutes to half an hour.
- It offers more gains in terms of building muscle.
- This also improves the endurance level.
- Involves carrying out a multitude of workout exercises, each of which lasts 20-30 seconds.
- Each set constitutes a resting period.
This workout, you can do either once every week or thrice a week.
The more workout sets you complete in a week, the higher your gains will be. Here, each muscle set would have up to 12 sessions a week.
This can be achieved by either following a full-body workout routine or splitting up the body muscles into upper and lower parts. Like the shoulders, chest, etc., will be worked on during the upper body workout days and legs, hips, etc., on the lower body workout days.
Here's how the full body and a split (lower and upper body) workout divide looks like:
Full body workout
Upper and lower body divide
Upper body workout
Lower body workout
Upper body workout
Lower body workout
Full Body Workout
This includes the significant muscles, i.e., shoulders, chest, legs, back, arms, abdomen, and hips.
- You can do this one using weights or even your body weight. Plus, if you want the best of both worlds, you can also use a combination of both.
- It includes exercises like bench presses, arm pushups, rows, pull-ups, arm circles, dumbbell curls, dips, hip-ups, squats, leg curls, etc.
- You will need to work on up to 12 repetitions of the training schedule.
Upper and Lower Body Workout
This is also known as a split or training split. Here the workout is divided into the upper and lower body split. This involves working on each split twice a week.
Upper Body Workout: Includes exercises that will work on the biceps and triceps, shoulders, chest, and back.
Lower body workout: Workout of the hips, hamstring, calves, abdomen, and quadriceps
You can also combine two groups to make up a workout schedule for each week. This tends to have a better impact. In this way, you touch the right muscle sets in each workout session. Generally, these sessions are 1.5 hours long.
- It offers more flexibility as you spread out the workout over the week.
- This also gives you a quick muscle recovery by allowing your body to relax in between the sessions.
- It's not rigorous, which means, it's safer and more people can follow it with ease.
- There's a much-reduced risk of injury or muscle damage with this schedule.
- A well-spaced out session will ensure less damage and reduce the chances of burnout.
How to Recover After Muscle Gain Workout?
Too much exercise with no period of rest can cause problems. Recovery is an important part of the muscle gain process. Here’s how you can recover fast:
Drink Enough Water
After a rigorous workout session, you need to ensure your body is hydrated. For that, make sure you are getting the optimal 16 ounces a day.
It doesn't necessarily have to be water alone. You can also have coconut water, chocolate milk, green tea, electrolytes, etc. staying hydrated is a great way to combat muscular cramping post-workout.
Make sure you are eating a balanced diet. It should have all of these in the right combination:
- Whole foods
- Complex carbs
- High protein
- Lastly, cut out sugar
Proteins are the muscle building blocks and they can also help with muscle repair. To ensure muscle recovery, a high protein diet is a major requirement.
It is not that difficult to make them part of your diet too. You can meet your daily protein needs from eggs, cheese, meat, beans, and yogurt – preferably Greek yogurt.
Get Adequate Rest
The resting period is crucial here. Following the same schedule, every day without sufficient rest can do more harm than good. It doesn't only slow down the gains but also inhibits quick recovery.
It can even lead to the loss of muscle over the long run. So make sure you give a healthy gap between the rigorous training sessions.
Also, make sure you are not sleep-deprived during the training. The body tends to be less burdened this way, and this allows the soreness to go away. Of course, you can, and you should add in a few cardio or yoga exercises during your resting days.
Your day-offs are the best time to include light cardio in your schedule. You can incorporate yoga or include simple stretches as part of the day. This will give your body time to adjust and also lead to quick muscle recovery.
There is a range of activities that you can do here:
- Or simply, hit the gym, etc.
Whatever works for you and keeps your heart rate elevated will do just fine. However, if you are a newbie, the recommended rate is 50 to 75% of your max heart rate – according to a study – as any higher can be hazardous for your health.
The objective here is to stretch and keep the body moving.
In case of any muscle soreness or pain following a heavy cardio workout, check out ExoGun for muscle massage therapy.
Whatever takes the pressure off works wonders for the body. Be it a nice massage, a cool shower or an ice bath, meditation, an Epsom salt bath, try finding what works for you, and do that!
Massage and backrubs often work best for relieving burnout. Your best bet here is to listen to your body and avoid overdoing any kind of workout.
Still, if you feel that the soreness is affecting your training and getting to a masseuse seems taxing, get ExoGun for a good – do it at home - backup plan.
With a solid exercise plan, cardio, adequate rest, and a balanced diet, you have the recipe for achieving the highest gains tailored for your body.
Some may find a four-day workout more doable; others may opt for five days. Whichever you choose, always remember nothing's worth the injury or burnout.
The recommended time for the workout sessions is 150 minutes a week as per research. How you span it out through the week depends on your schedule.
All in all, there's no pressure. Honestly, pushing yourself too hard will never give you the desired results. Take adequate time out to unwind and relax.
But, remember, consistency is the key!