If you want to get big and shredded without killing yourself, then you may want to apply the “train less, grow more” approach to fitness.
Believe or not, I’ve trained consistently for years with only 3 workouts per week, and I am happy and proud to say that I’ve built my body doing it this way! The “train less grow more” approach is the new way to go!
You see, simplicity is the key to making gains; you actually don’t need to overcomplicate stuff for things to work.
Working out 3 days per week, as a natural, allows adequate rest and recovery so you’ll have fresh energy and focus each and every workout.
In this article, I will discuss the magic of this method and the reasoning behind it.
Bodybuilding and Steroids
The conventional bodybuilding training routines, which usually consists of 5-6 days per week, were developed in the bodybuilding’s steroid era alongside the supplement industry.
Before that, bodybuilders such as Steve Reeves, labeled as the greatest “natural” bodybuilder of all time before performance-enhancing drugs even came into existence, trained only 3 days per week and built his physique that way. His number rule was: “Train No More Than Three Times Per Week.”
Steve believed most bodybuilders train way too much and that 3 days a week is the way to go. Recovery is crucial and far too many trainees overlook this important aspect.
Today, most(not all) bodybuilders train very frequently because steroids enable them to. They can train 6-7 days a week and see noticeable gains because steroids jack up their recovery rate and muscle growth. As naturals, you can’t compete with their progress. This is not bitterness but the truth. I don’t have any problems with those using steroids except only for the fact that they are setting up unrealistic expectations for many people who are not familiar with what can be attained naturally.
With that said, if you’re not using performance-enhancing drugs, better give importance to your recovery periods and plan them out nicely. If after reading this and you still want to train 6 days a week, it’s your call. You’ve been warned.
The Relationship Between Intensity And Recovery
Arthur Jones, one of the pioneers in the field of exercise science, explained that the relationship between intensity and recovery have a very important connection that most people don’t understand.
When you workout, you put stress on your body as a whole, not just on the muscles being trained. This stress builds up as the demands you place on your muscles increase, that is by lifting progressively heavier weights. The problem with this is — strength gains grow exponentially while recovery abilities don’t. This means that the stronger you become, the more you should give importance to rest days and deload weeks for your body to catch up.
According to him, a person can increase his strength by at least 400% but his recovery can only increase by 20-50%. It′s the recovery ability that causes the problems for us mere naturals. Hence, why steroids and other growth hormones are so popular and commonly abused.
Training Hard vs. Training Smart
Here in our society, sacrifice, hard work, and persistence are always valued over being smart. Just because you’re working hard, grinding your ass off, spending 3/4 of your time in the gym and thinking about it, that means you’re supposed to grow!
In life, you get what you put in, right? Not true in every case. Hard work inside the gym is only half of the equation; the other half is giving your body a chance to recover and grow.
How many of you, if you’re a natural, meaning you don’t use steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs, tried training 6 days a week and saw little to no improvement? How many of you grew tired of training your ass off in the gym and not seeing any results?
I’m telling you, I’ve been there. I tried exercising 5, 6, even 7 days a week and all I noticed was a waste of time and energy. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t work properly because I was too tired and worn-out. I thought I would grow in exchange for the hard work I was putting in… I was wrong.
Week after week, all I saw was a loss in strength in every exercise that I was doing. Then I thought, “how could it be possible that working out causes me to lose strength?” That was the wake-up call. Once I switched to 3 workouts per week, the opposite happened and I made a very fast progress since.
The most important factor in any workout program, whether it’s a program for athletes, bodybuilders, weightlifters, or any other training routine, is the principle of progressive overload. This principle states that in order for a muscle to grow, the body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.
“If you’re not getting stronger, you won’t get bigger.” This is the basic formula.
Regardless of how hard and how long you do your workouts, you can’t add muscle size if you’re not progressing on your lifts.
Now let’s add something to that statement:
“If you don’t recover, you won’t get stronger. If you don’t get stronger, you won’t get bigger.”
If you’re training 6-7 days a week, how do you think your body will recover and adapt if you’re not giving it a chance to accomplish those? Muscles grow while you’re resting, not when you’re working out.
Strength training 3 days per week leaves plenty of time for muscular and neural recovery, allowing you to hit each and every workout with full intensity. Expect to see a much faster and steady rate of progress in terms of size and strength doing it this way as opposed to those marathon training sessions.
Don’t believe me?
The Minimalist Advantage
The benefits of a 3-day workout split don’t just rest inside the weightlifting room; they extend far beyond it.
When you don’t allow fitness to take up your entire life, you become a more well-rounded person. You dedicate more of your precious time doing other fun things; you read books, you take up classes, you join clubs and communities, you spend time with friends, and you simply have fun.
This is the core of my training philosophy. “The Lazy Lifter” doesn’t mean that I’m just too lazy to workout. It means, as a natural, that I do know how to workout properly.
Training 3 days a week allows me to recover and grow each workout, and more importantly, have a life outside the gym. The irony is, ever since I’ve switched to this method, gains have come effortlessly. Each workout session has become more enjoyable and productive because I’ve given it more value and importance.
I learned things the hard way — the more I spend most of my energy thinking about working out and obsessing about my diet, the more my gains suffer.
Now, once I am done with my workout, I go out, eat, party, and enjoy the rest of the day. And when it’s time to train again, I only have one goal in mind — to beat my previous lifts.
Minimalism when it comes to fitness is awesome. Be a minimalist.
In a nutshell, these are the things you’ll get from working out 3 days per week:
1. You will have more time to rest and grow
Your job in the gym is to stimulate the muscles, then get out. Once you’re done, your next task is to let them rest and grow.
2. You will have more energy each workout
Training 3 days a week, allowing 1 day of rest in between workouts, allows your central nervous system to fully recover. This means you will have full energy each and every workout. That also means you’ll likely to hit personal records each and every time. More progress = more muscle growth.
3. You will have more time to do other things
Having fun outside the gym while getting closer to your goal physique? What could be better than that?
At the end of the day, it’s still up to you what training style to follow. The information I’m presenting you here are mere guidelines, though they are a result of countless hours on the internet and in the gym, testing and tweaking.
Give it a try for at least 2 months and let me know your results.
Now, if you want to learn the complete system that my clients and I use to get in an incredible shape while only training 3x a week, here it is…
This is step by step workout and nutrition program that will teach you everything you need to know about building muscle and losing fat.