All hope is not lost. Because I've recently discovered that going to the gym 3 times a week may not be necessary to build muscle.
According to a recent study, fewer visits to the gym could produce similar results to those who worked out numerous times a week. The participants were separated into two groups. The first group were labeled The High Frequency Trainers (HFT) while their counterparts were known as The Low Frequency Trainers (LFT).
Team High Frequency trained each muscle group 3 times a week, completing 3 sets per muscle group. The breakdown of their workout looked something like this:
Day 1) pectoralis, deltoids, and triceps
Day 2) upper back and biceps
Day 3) quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and abdominals.
The Low Frequency folks trained only 1X a week. Basically, they completed all 9 sets of exercises in one session. Essentially, both groups completed the same amount of work per week.
The duration of the study was 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 week period, researchers assessed the participants based on any lean muscle gained during the trial. The study was 8 weeks long because researchers determined that 8 weeks is the average amount of time it takes for muscle to develop.
At the end of 8 weeks, the results were clear and very promising!
Both the HFT and LFT experienced similar changes in lean muscle mass and improvements! I dunno about you but this excites me so much. Basically, we can enjoy the same muscle stimulating benefits with less frequent sessions as long as we're getting in enough reps per session.
The down side to this is that the low frequency group worked harder per session because they had to exercise their entire body in one workout. That's the drawback, but if could save you a bit of time, it might be worth it. Don't get me wrong, I do think there are benefits of more frequent workouts. Being in the gym multiple times a week puts you in an environment where you're surrounded by other fit people. This could have a positive effect on you subconsciously. It may also give you motivation to eat healthier versus if you're a 1X a week gym goer. With all that said, it's still nice to know that a full body workout just once a week can make a real impact.
I'm very optimistic after reading this article. I'm one of those people that's really sporadic with my workouts. Sometimes I go to the gym, have a great session, but don't get the chance to visit again that week. I feel like that one workout wasn't enough which discourages me from going back for a while. Now, I can remain confident in knowing that I should stay consistent for the long haul because the results will still come.
Check more details about the study here.