When is the best time for weight training and how much should you train? It's a question that probably has been asked millions of times. It is a great question though. After all, if you put the time and effort in, you want to make sure that you reap the maximum benefits of it.

The answer is very difficult though. It depends on your physiological state, how much you have been working out, what your goals are etc. it is more important to understand the basics so you are more aware of what you're doing yourself.

I know there are many articles out there about the best time of the day to work out and when you burn the most, have the most energy etc. Fact is, for most people, the best time to work out is when it fits in your schedule! Better to have a great training when you have the time than rushing through a workout when you only have 20 minutes...

As to how often you workout. If you look at professional martial artists and other athletes, they put a lot of hours in the gym but they do split workouts for their strength, then they add cardio and at another time of the day, they will work on techniques. This is not realistic for most people either so a good guideline for someone that wants to add strength and size is to train 3 times/week full body. Work mostly on the large muscle groups and spend less time on the small ones (arms, shoulders). This way, you challenge all muscle groups multiple times a week. Downside is however, you can't spend as much time on each individual muscle group.

Another option is to do split workouts. For example you can do chest and triceps on Monday; legs, shoulders and abs on Wednesday; back and biceps on Friday.

There are many variations and it is up to your trainer to figure out what will work best for you, depending on your goals, level, limitations etc. The thing you want to accomplish is working your muscles hard and frequent enough to stimulate an increase in size and strength without overtraining and making sure it fits in the time you have available.

A few other training splits:

- Four days a week: you will work out half your body one day, the other half the other. After these 2 training days, you will take 2 days off. This way, you get 4 training days per week in and you can spend more time (sets) on the different muscle groups.

- Six day split routine: you will divide your training into 3 different workouts. You train for 3 consecutive days and then take a day off. Then repeat.

- One muscle per day: exactly what is sounds like. Disadvantage is that you can't work out the same muscle more than once a week.

The last question to answer is how long to work out. If your goal is to gain size and lift heavy weights, 30 to 45 minutes is ideal (depending if you work out one or two muscle groups - or more). If you go for high volume training, more sets and more reps for muscle endurance, then a typical workout will be 60 to 90 minutes. If you add cardio for weight loss or to lean out, it can go up to 120 minutes.

Please note that these are only some examples and there are many different options in training. Training planning depends on many different factors and needs to be put together per individual. After all, no two people are the same so the same workout routine will not have the same effects.

By Sander Vanacker, Define Defense’s certified personal trainer and head martial arts instructor, based in Boulder, Colorado. Take a look at www.DefineDefense.com, www.TrainerVanacker.com or check out our videos onYouTube.com/DefineDefense !

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