How Often Should We Train?

March 29, 2018

As many of you already know, strength training produces many positive health benefits including but not limited to increased strength, endurance, muscle and bone mass, decreased blood pressure, body fat, risk of injury and falls. Recently, research has revealed that strength training improves cognitive function and reverses certain genetic markers of aging. No longer is lifting weights just something you do to make your muscles bigger. We now know for sure that it makes you smarter and younger!

We have always advocated two weekly strength training sessions for best results. Research seems to bear this out time and time again. One weekly session does indeed provide good benefits but not as good as two for the vast majority of people.

Below is a table sent to me from my friend Dr. Wayne Westcott. Dr. Westcott is one of the countries foremost experts in exercise science. He just completed a large scale study involving over 1600 subjects comparing 1,2 and 3 strength training sessions a week over a 10 week period. His training methods are very similar to ours – 20-30 minute sessions, single sets, slow repetition speed continued to total muscle exhaustion.

Table 2: Baseline to Post Test Changes (M±SD) by Training Frequency

1XWk Group                     2XWk Group                   3XWk Group

(n=81)                                   (n=845)                             (n=693)

Percent Body Fat








Fat Weight








Lean Weight








Systolic Blood Pressure








Diastolic Blood Pressure








Values that significantly differ (p<.05) are denoted by different superscripts.

As you can see, 2 weekly training sessions produced significantly better gains in lean weight than one session a week (3lbs. vs. <1lbs.) and better losses in fat mass.  Note that three strength sessions a week did not produce better gains in lean tissue. More exercise is not always better!

And though 3 weekly sessions did produce better fat loss than 2 sessions a week, since diet was not part of the study, we cannot attribute fat losses with the training. It may have had an effect, but the added fat loss could not have been caused by the few extra calories burned in a 20 minute strength session. The math just doesn’t add up.

Benefits to blood pressure were statistically equal for all groups.

So as you can see, it probably behooves us all to try and squeeze in 2 weekly strength sessions for best overall results. This is one reason why we created the Serious Strength Lite 15 minute strength training program at our studio. Even training 3 times in a two week period will up the fitness ante and benefit you to a greater degree.