Weight training can be good but there is also such a thing as overtraining. Find out whether lifting 5 days a week is too much and how to approach it.
The general answer is that it depends on your personal body, exactly what your weight training routine looks like, what you eat, and what your sleep looks like.
More concrete, with the amount of time most people have for working out, lifting 5 days a week will typically not be too much.
At the same time, you definitely want to be aware of signs of overtraining like not seeing any progress, worse sleep, feeling tired all day, and the bad kind of pain.
Resistance training beginners also likely want to start with fewer weight training days and build up from there if everything goes well.
Additionally, more advanced lifters can reach a point where they are overdoing with for body parts like their tendons while training 5 times a week.
Lastly, just because lifting 5 days a week is not necessarily too much does not mean it is optimal. You can likely get great results with fewer strength training days and this allows more time for cardiovascular exercise.
Is it okay to lift 5 times a week?
Most people know that doing strength training 5 days a week is typically enough to build muscle (with the right workout plan, nutrition, and rest).
However, it may be less clear to you whether lifting 5 times a week is too much or not. The answer to this depends a lot on your personal body and the lifting routine you plan to implement.
For many people, doing full body workouts where they lift to failure 5 times a week will likely be too much. Their muscles and other body parts will likely not get enough time to recover.
On the other hand, if you do pull, push, leg, arm, and shoulder workouts on separate days, you will likely be okay. Even if you do a lot of sets and work out to failure in these 5 lifting sessions.
Most of the workouts in between these opposites will be fine for the average person due to the typical time constraints.
At the same time, advanced lifters may reach a point where lifting 5 times a week becomes bad for their tendons.
However, ultimately you get the answer by implementing a routine and carefully watching out for the signs of overtraining.
The main sign will be that you are not seeing progress in your lifts, even though you have a good workout routine, eat at least decent, and sleep at least decent.
Additionally, the bad kind of pain, reduction in sleep quality, and feeling tired throughout the day may be signs that you are overdoing it.
Tips when lifting 5 days a week
Again, the main way to tell whether lifting 5 times a week with a certain workout plan is too much is by implementing it and listening to the signs of your body.
That being said, let’s say you want to come nowhere near overtraining or tried out the 5 days a week and concluded that your exercise routine was too intense. In these cases, there are a few tips that can help you.
First of all, you may want to split up your workout routine so that a certain muscle group, for example chest, gets more time to rest instead of working it every day.
Next, If you want to try to lift as much volume as possible per week, it is generally to not go to failure in your sets (1, 2). This will generally slow down recovery and not offer that many benefits in such an intense lifting routine.
Thirdly, you want to eat enough nutrients. Lifting weights damages your muscles which may sound bad but starts a variety of repair and growth processes. Even so, your body still needs the building blocks to grow these muscles.
Lastly, other lifestyle habits like sleep often play an important role in things like muscle growth. While you don’t need the perfect sleep schedule and quality to build muscle, at least paying some attention to these things can help.
Is lifting 5 days a week healthy?
So far it became clear that lifting 5 days a week can be enough to build muscle and that it is not necessarily too much for muscle gains if you approach it right.
The next question is whether a workout routine like this can be considered healthy.
At the time of writing, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends the following exercise guidelines for adults (3):
- Moving more and sitting less throughout the day
- At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Preferably spread throughout the week.
- You can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
While lifting weights does engage your cardiovascular system to some extent, it generally does not come down to the same challenge as the cardiovascular exercise guidelines above.
For optimal health, you likely need to add a good amount of cardiovascular exercise to your lifting routine.
While you can likely make it work, doing extra cardio workouts on the same days as your lifting sessions may not be great for your performance and/or hitting your calorie goals for the day.
So lifting 5 days a week could be done in a way that is optimal for health by also implementing enough cardiovascular exercise.
Some people may find fewer strength training days easier to combine with enough cardio exercise.
Lastly, while this definitely needs a lot more research, there is some speculation about too much muscle mass and the habits around it being suboptimal for health.
In this sense, lifting 5 days a week done in certain ways could be “unhealthy” but again, this is mostly speculation for now.
Benefits of lifting 5 days a week
You definitely want to keep the things above when it comes to optimal health but lifting 5 days a week also offers benefits besides just growing and strengthening muscles.
These involve more specific things for the 5 times a week factor and more general but important effects of doing resistance training consistently.
Get results with short workouts
When it comes to growing and strengthening muscles, training them many times a week does not seem as important as weekly training volume (how much total weight you lift) (4).
This can be helpful in the context of training 5 times a week for people who only have a short amount of time each day to work out.
Instead of having to set up 5 different exercises every single day and only having time for 1 set per exercise, you can do 1 exercise for multiple sets on one day and then the other exercises in a similar way on other days.
In total, this tactic could mean being able to get in more volume and in turn, seeing more results with shorter workouts.
With fewer resistance training days, you may not be able to apply this principle as successfully (although it is often still possible).
Still room for off days or other workouts
Doing weight training for 5 days a week also means that you have 2 days where you don’t do this type of training.
You can use these days to let your muscles rest completely and have a break after a late weekend night or to implement some cardiovascular workouts which can be great for your health.
In turn, these things can make your exercise routine more enjoyable and easier to stick to. To get the benefits of exercise you still need to complete your workouts.
Will likely improve bone density
While you may not be concerned about it yet, strengthening your bones can help you avoid fractures. Your current habits influence your future health.
Bone density improvements can already be seen by lifting less often and even with cardiovascular health. However, lifting 5 days a week will generally offer more results in this area than 5 sessions of walking.