Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

The question

I want to gain strength and lean muscle mass, but due to family commitments I can only strength-train two times per week. Am I lifting frequently enough to make strength improvements?

The answer

Story continues below advertisement

The amount of training that is needed to see improvement is largely dependent on one's initial fitness level. If you don't lift weights regularly, your initial strength level is most likely low. So two workouts a week will make a noticeable difference.

More experienced weightlifters usually need to lift three or four days a week to see results.

Fortunately, frequency is not the only training variable that can be manipulated to produce strength gains.

Since twice weekly lifting sessions are all you can commit to, I suggest that you become meticulous about controlling other training variables such as reps, sets, load and rest intervals.

Plan your workouts so that they cycle through "phases" of training. This will ensure you constantly challenge yourself and force your body to adapt.

Try the following 10-week cycle:

Phase One: Do two weeks of endurance training – three sets of each exercise for 12-15 reps.

Story continues below advertisement

Phase Two: Six weeks of strength and hypertrophy training. For two weeks, do four sets of 10-12 reps; for the next two weeks do four sets of 8-10 reps; and for the final two weeks do four sets of 6-8 reps of each exercise.

Phase three: Two weeks of relative strength and power training. Do four sets of 3-5 reps.

Take a recovery week after you finish the full 10-week cycle. Then repeat it.

Trainer's Tip: Make sure you have an adequate recovery meal within 45 minutes of the end of your workout. If you are trying to build muscle, two quality workouts a week followed by a recovery meal will offer you the same or better results than doing three non-quality workouts a week with no proper post-exercise fuel.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in the Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.



Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

Story continues below advertisement



Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies