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There is no doubt that chest training is one of the most important workouts for most of the people.
The question that usually comes up is how often we should work the chest muscles. In this post, I would like to answer it and tell what I experienced.
Typically, there are three types of workout routines. There are plans that recommend working a body part once, twice or three times a week.
Which is good?
I have to say all of them work well, but which is the optimal for you depends on your aims. Do you desire to build a bigger chest? Do you want to develop a stronger chest? Do you need to define those muscles? Are you a beginner or are you familiar with bodybuilding? Do you use only free weights or body weight exercises as well?
These are fundamental questions you need to answer before setting the frequency of your chest training.
It is also an important fact that your muscles need recovery time. It is about 48 hours, many experts say the length of the recovery is about 72 hours. However, this depends on how hard you workouts are. I mean, how many sets and reps you do, the types of the chest exercises and the amount of weights you use. We must not forget the nutrition as well since that also influences the recovery time, for example, how much protein you take in.
The rule is the following. If you have long and hard chest workout, you should not have training so often in order to provide the proper amount of time for the muscles to recover. If your session is not so hard, then you can have workouts more frequently since the muscles can recover in a shorter time.
Both frequency work, you just need to tweak your workouts in order to get the wanted results. Hence, it is important to test.
Once a Week
If you train your chest once a week, you should have a complete and hard workout. That means you should perform more types of chest exercises so as to work all parts of the chest. Besides, you need to have more reps and sets, and you may have to work with bigger weights. Your aim is to avoid under-training, but if you overdo it that may result over-training as well. Testing is essential.
The once a week training is beneficial for those who want to develop mass.
Twice a Week
Another usual split training is when you have two chest workouts per a week. That means the muscles have 48-72 hours to recover. Following the rule above you should not have so hard training.
There are several benefits of this type of routine. You can have more time and power to work all part of the pecs, the lower, middle and the upper chest since you have two sessions per week.
If the once per week workout type does not stimulate the muscles enough, then this two times a week routine is the way to go.
Three Times a Week
Finally, about working the chest muscles three times a week. There are programs that recommend having three workouts a week. That means each day all the muscles should be accomplished. You have full body workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (This routine is recommended for beginners.)
If you follow this type of routine, it is vital to avoid overtraining since the chest muscles have a little time to recover. If they do not recover, they will not develop.
What is my suggestion?
I have tried all of these chest programs. My rule is that I do 12-14 sets for my chest muscles weekly.
When I did the once a week routine, I lifted big weights. I did dumbbells and barbell bench press on incline and decline bench with heavy weights. I saw development in mass.
For me, the twice a week routine worked the best. That means I did 6-7 sets per a workout. This type of technique developed the mass and the strength as well.
Since I started calisthenics I sometimes do the three times a week routine which also works. I do body weight training, mainly push up variations, to work my upper body. Most of the body weight exercises do not let us focus on one particular muscle group as if we use free weight or machines. This way the muscles recover fast.
How often should you workout each body part?
You can read more about split training here or watch the following video.
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