Your muscles need enough time to repair and grow after a lifting session. Find out whether training legs 3 times a week is too much for this.
The main way to know whether training legs 3 times a week is too much for you is by implementing an exercise routine with it, keeping an eye on signs of overtraining, and changing your plan if needed.
This is because differences in things like genes, lifting experience levels, leg workout routines, nutrition habits, and sleep habits play a big role in the answer.
For example, resistance training beginners who eat bad and barely sleep likely don’t want to go straight to 2 hours of leg compound lifts 3 days a week.
At the same time, something helpful to know is that most people can find a way to work out leg muscles like glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves 3 times a week where it is not too much.
In fact, this type of strength training routine could be the best way to get the results you want in your personal situation.
Can you train legs 3 times a week?
To most people, it will be clear that training legs 3 times a week should be enough to grow and strengthen muscles.
However, generally, a bigger concern is whether training this part of your body so often will lead to overtraining and in turn reductions in results or injuries.
The exact answer to this question for you personally will depend on the state of your body, the exact leg workout routine, and your other lifestyle habits in areas like nutrition and sleep.
If you are new to strength training, going straight to 3 leg workouts a week where you do 6 sets of 3 exercises is likely not the best idea.
On the other hand, many people will be able to create a resistance training routine where they can train legs 3 times a week without any issues.
The most advanced lifters could reach a point where their joints and tendons are no longer able to adapt enough to the pressure from intense leg workouts when training this frequently.
However, most people will not have to worry about this.
In the end, there is a simple solution for finding out whether a routine that involves working your legs 3 times a week is too much or not.
You implement the routine, watch out for signs of overtraining, and reduce the intensity of your lifting routine if needed.
Some signs of overtraining include not seeing progress (with a good workout plan, nutrition, and sleep), reduction in sleep quality, feeling tired throughout the day, and the bad kind of pain.
How long should your leg workout be
As mentioned, what your leg workout looks like will influence whether training them 3 times a week is okay to do or not. This likely makes you wonder how long your leg workouts should or can be.
The answer to that again depends on the person doing the leg workouts and other details of the lifting routine like what exercises are done with what weights.
Another variable is what your exact training goals are.
In short, for resistance training beginners and intermediates, even leg workouts of 20 minutes of compound lifts 3 times a week could be enough to build a nice amount of mass and strength.
On the other hand, more advanced lifters may need to do 1.5-hour leg workouts with mixes of compound and glute, hamstring, quadricep, and/or calf isolation exercises 3 times a week to get to their training goals.
Again, you want to implement a certain leg workout routine, look at the results and whether you have any signs of overtraining, and adjust from there if desired.
Tips for doing it successfully
You may want to avoid coming anywhere near overtraining or conclude after implementing a lifting routine with 3 leg days a week that it is too much. In these cases, there are some general guidelines that can help you.
First of all, you generally don’t want to do your leg workouts 3 days in a row. By spacing them out you give your muscles more time to repair and grow.
In simpler words, if you are doing your leg exercises to failure but you are not recovering fast enough, you likely want to do fewer repetitions per set and/or use less weight.
Thirdly, to repair, grow, and strengthen your leg muscles, your body needs enough building blocks aka nutrients. Make sure you are consuming enough protein, calories, and other nutrients.
Lastly, other lifestyle habits like sleep are not only important for general health. They can also benefit muscle growth and strength progress.
Benefits training legs 3 times a week
Assuming you avoid overtraining with the guidelines and tips above, training your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and/or calves 3 times a week can offer valuable benefits.
These range from the specific advantages of working these muscles at this frequency to the more general benefits of having a good leg strength training routine.
Enables shorter workouts
Many people would consider working legs 3 times a week a lot. However, when it comes to weight lifting programs you do not only want to pay attention to how many days you work certain muscles.
The amount of weight you lift in a week seems to be more important than how often you train them in terms of muscle growth and strength progress (3).
This is something important to keep in mind since it means your leg workouts don’t have to be as intense when training these muscles 3 times a week as 2 times a week to get the same results.
In turn, doing shorter glute, hamstring, quadricep, and calf workouts but doing them more often can still be effective.
For individuals who are only able to free up small blocks of time to train each day, training legs this often could be the best way toward their training goals.
Will likely improve bone density
On the flip side, training more often can also help you lift more weight throughout the week which is relevant for this next benefit.
This process can already happen during cardio exercises like walking, cycling, and tennis for many individuals. However, lifting weights typically applies more pressure which could lead to more strengthening.
Similarly, lifting more weight will generally improve bone density even more.
Helps you lose fat
Excess body fat is unhealthy for the human body. There is definitely a way to overdo it but many people would benefit in terms of health from losing some body fat.
Leg resistance training workouts can play an important role in this process for a few reasons.
First of all, you will likely realize after only 1 set of heavy deadlifts or squats that compound lifts with the big muscle groups in your legs can burn some extra calories.
Additionally, weight is an important factor in how many calories your body burns. Since the glute, quadricep, and hamstring muscles are relatively big, there is a lot of room for mass increases and in turn, extra calorie burning.
Doing 3 leg resistance training days instead of 2 or 1, you will/could get the effects to a larger extent.
One important thing to note is that being in a small calorie surplus is generally recommended to build as much (leg) muscle mass as possible (7).
You may want to alternate between periods of cutting and bulking to control the amount of body fat you have. Additionally, not having enough body fat is not healthy either.
Can improve athletic performance in the long run
Doing a certain sport more often is not always the best way to improve performance. Cross-training which is doing other sports or exercises can often offer improvements too.
For example, glute, hamstring, quadricep, and calf resistance training workouts could help you run faster and in turn, improve athletic performance in sports where you benefit from speed.
One thing to keep in mind about this benefit is that it does likely not apply to the day after your leg workouts. Your leg muscles need some time to repair to perform optimally.
Is it optimal?
Just because it is possible to train legs 3 times a week does not mean it is the best thing to do.
What is considered optimal depends on your training goals.
To build as much strength and muscle mass as possible, working your leg muscles 3 days a week could be optimal if your body is able to deal with it.
Training this many days allows you to get in a lot of volume which tends to be useful for achieving these goals.
When it comes to other popular fitness goals like health, longevity, and weight loss, whether training legs 3 times a week is optimal depends on how you approach it.
For optimal health and longevity, you generally want to do a good amount of cardiovascular exercise too (8). Similarly, a few cardiovascular workouts are typically good additions to a weight loss exercise routine.