How Much Is Too Much?

You're on a mission to get big, so you're really getting after it in the gym. Sure, your body's sore afterwards. That's only natural when you're redefining the limits of what's possible 4 or 5 days a week. Then there's the danger of overtraining and injury to consider.

A number of recent studies serve as helpful benchmarks on the frequency of exercise for maximal gains. One found that training the same body part 3 times a week instead of just twice resulted in greater increases in muscle size and strength. Another study subjected lab rats to repeated bouts of exercise with 8, 24 and 48 hour rest periods. The 48-hour recovery period worked best, and that finding is supported by a human study performed at Western Kentucky University.

The Bigger Picture: If you're just starting a resistance training program, research suggests you load the bar with 65% to 75% of your one rep max (the greatest amount of weight you can lift for one repetition) and give each muscle group two full days to recover before working it again. Consume about a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily, including a carb/protein combination immediately after training. As the lifts get easier, increase the reps and weight as you see fit. But remember that the progression should be steady and gradual.
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