Exercise can offer health benefits but too much can cause the opposite. Find out whether lifting 6 days a week is too much and how you can approach it in a smart way.
First of all, whether lifting 6 days a week is too much for you depends on your body, strength training plan, and other lifestyle habits like nutrition and sleep.
In terms of avoiding overtraining, most people can make it work by being smart with what muscles they work when, whether they go to failure or not, and the duration of their workouts.
The ultimate answer to whether a routine is too much is trying it out, watching out for signs of overtraining, and making your workout plan less intense if needed.
Overtraining aside, lifting this often is not ideal for all individuals and all goals.
For example, strength training beginners likely want to start with fewer training days, see how their bodies react, and adjust if they can/want. At this point in a lifting journey, most people can see great results with less lifting.
Additionally, the cardiovascular exercise routines that are typically recommended for optimal health could be too hard to achieve when lifting 6 days a week.
Is it OK to lift 6 days a week?
It is easy to see that lifting 6 days a week can help build a nice amount of muscle mass. The main thing people wonder about is whether training this often is too much.
When lifting weights, you damage your muscles.
While this may sound like a bit thing, it actually starts a variety of internal processes that start repairing these muscles and adding some extra mass to be better prepared to deal with similar challenging in the future.
The main concern with doing strength training 6 days a week is that the muscles may not get enough time to recover. In turn, this can reduce the amount of growth and strength results you get.
Additionally, body parts like joints and tendons work in a similar way but often require more time to adapt to the challenges you give them (1).
Advanced lifters may also get to a point where body parts like their joints and tendons don’t adapt enough to keep lifting more weight even though the muscles could grow and strengthen more.
The things above are valid concerns and you do want to keep them in mind. However, most people can still lift 6 days a week in a way that is not too much.
For example, you could do a push pull leg routine where you do each of these categories after each other. That would mean you work your chest and triceps twice a week with at least 72 hours between each workout.
While potentially possible without a problem, most people want to move away from full body workouts if they lift 6 days a week since it may not allow their muscles to rest enough.
Additionally, resistance training beginners likely don’t want to go from 0 to 6 days of strength training a week unless these are really soft workouts.
If that is you, you can start with lifting 1 to 3 times a week and build up from there if desired.
Even more intermediate to advanced individuals typically want to avoid really big changes in intensity in their workout routine to give their joints and tendons a chance to catch up and avoid overtraining.
While there are likely still some small things the most advanced individuals can do, there is inevitably some type of limit to how much weight lifting a human body can handle.
The thing to keep in mind
If you are concerned about whether it is OK to lift 6 days a week or not you can take things slowly as mentioned above and simply try a routine and pay attention to any signs of overtraining.
People who eat at least decently, sleep at least decently, use a good workout routine, and still don’t see any progress with 6 strength training days a week could be overtraining.
Some other signs of overtraining include reduction in sleep quality, feeling tired all day, and having the bad kind of pain.
In short, you can get the ultimate answer to whether a routine with 6 weight lifting days is too much for you or not by implementing this routine, paying attention to how you feel, and changing things up when needed.
Other tips for lifting weights 6 times a week
Lifting weights 6 times a week can also still mean a lot of different things. There are a few ways you can change the actual routine to see more results and avoid overtraining.
First of all, as mentioned before, you can split up your workout routine into training different muscle groups instead of just doing full-body workouts 6 days in a row.
This will give these muscle groups more time to repair and grow. Additionally, how much you lift per week seems to be more important than training frequency so you can still expect amazing results (2).
Thirdly, when lifting this often, you likely don’t need to do 2-hour workouts each day. If you feel you are up for it you could do longer workouts but most people will already see amazing results with shorter lifting sessions.
Lastly, you want to make sure other lifestyle habits like nutrition and sleep are at least decent and preferably good. These things will not only help you avoid overtraining but can also speed up results.
Is lifting 6 days a week optimal?
By now, it is clear that lifting 6 days a week is not necessarily too much. Especially if you approach it in a smart way. At the same time, that does not mean this routine is optimal.
The first question to ask yourself is what your goal is. Do you just want muscle, do you like how strength training makes you feel the rest of the day, or do you want optimal health?
When it comes to growing and strengthening muscles, many people can already see a lot of results by lifting less often. This would also allow more time for other activities and workouts.
For optimal health, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends (5):
- 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.
Even if you do some running or other cardio after your lifting sessions, going to the gym 6 days a week may be too much to fit these health guidelines into your routine.
There is also some speculation about too much muscle mass and the habits around it being suboptimal for longevity but this needs more research.
Lifting 6 days a week vs 3 days
Some people are considering lifting 6 days a week vs 3 days. There are advantages and disadvantages to both routines.
First of all, you may like how you feel throughout the day after lifting. By training 6 times a week, you will have this feeling more often (unless cardio workouts on the non-3 days you lift also make you feel better).
Next, you may have a busy workweek where you are only able to reserve shorter time periods for resistance training.
In this case, strength training 6 days a week instead of 3 may be needed to lift enough volume for the muscle growth and strength progress results you want.
Additionally, having a similar exercise routine every morning may make it easier to make and keep your workouts a habit.
On the flip side, the main benefit of training 3 days a week is that it saves you time while still being able to offer great results.
One study with resistance-training participants observed that even three 13-minute lifting sessions a week for 8 weeks was enough to see muscle gain and strength progress (6).
Having more time means that you can take more days off and/or implement more cardiovascular workouts. In turn, a routine where you lift 3 times a week could be easier to make better for health and specific goals like weight loss.
Is it better to lift 5 or 6 days a week?
When comparing 5 vs 6 days of lifting a week, things are a lot closer.
Again, to what extent you value how lifting weights throughout the day will influence your choice.
Besides that, your decision will mostly be weighing how much time you have each day, how much you need to lift throughout the week to get to your strength training goals, and how much your body can take against each other.
As always, you can try out both and see what works best for you.
Lastly, lifting 5 days a week instead of 6 may make it easier to implement cardiovascular workouts. These can offer valuable health benefits too.