How many times per week should I lift weights if I’m just starting?

Judi & Dave HarveyI get this question often and it might help you with starting a new exercise routine for 2009…

How many times per week should I lift weights if I’m just starting? (Meaning you’ve never done it before or you have lifted weights, but it’s been a very long time since you have.)

If you are wanting to start a new exercise routine of weight training… I generally suggest starting with 2 weight training sessions per week using an upper body/lower body split.

You will do an upper body workout on one day including your back muscles, chest, shoulders, and arms. A day or two later you will do a lower body workout including the front and back of your upper thighs, your calves and maybe even include some abdominals. (Abs can be done with either upper or lower body days or both.)

I’m a big believer in baby steps and feel that if you want to be consistant with your new routine… it’s important to be realistic with your goals and not bite off more than you can chew when starting on a new exercise venture.

I feel that way for a couple of reasons…

1) If your goals are unrealistic for your lifestyle in the beginning of a new program you are setting yourself up to fail right from the start.
Example… say you want to workout 4 times per week and you can only realistically do 2 on a regular basis… You will feel like you’ve failed yourself because you didn’t do what you set out to do. That will eventually start to decrease your motivation to get to the gym. I’ve seen so many times where people quit because they were so gung-ho in the beginning and lost interest because they tried to do too much, too soon.

2) In the beginning, you’re body is going to respond to the slightest change in increasing your activity level. It’s because you’ve added something new that your body is not used to and it will respond to the new change. Even if you don’t change the way you eat or do cardio you will be burning more calories than you were from the increased activity and that will create a change for you.

Of course, if you change the way you eat as well when you start a new routine, your results will come a little faster and be more obvious, but it’s not necessary to do at first. I think it’s more important to choose what you KNOW you can stick to and be consistant with that before you move on. When you’ve conquered the first commitment to yourself then you can add another, like changing the way you eat in addition to your weight training.
So remember… More is not always better, especially in the beginning of a new routine. If you have never exercised before or it’s been a long time since you have… you will get results with 2 times per week of weight training.

As your body gets more conditioned and used to the program you are doing you can add more to each workout you are already doing, change your routine up by changing your exercises, and only if it fits your schedule and you know you are up to it… you can add a third day of training.

Until then… I feel it’s better to set your goals to What you KNOW you can stick to on a continous basis. By doing this… Physically, you will feel better because your exercise is consistant and Mentally/Emotionally, you will feel better because you kept your promise to yourself.

Clifta Perez- Reno, Nevada
Certified Fitness Professional and Nutrition Coach
IFBB Pro Bodybuilder