As you know by now, incorporating resistance exercise into your life is by far the best thing you can do to help the quality and longevity of your life. However, many people ask “will I see improvement to my overall health and body composition by training once per week?” The answer to this actually has more to do with what happens to your body when you’re not training (rest days) versus the time actually spent in the gym.
While consistently performing resistance exercise one time per week will allow you to build a great base and get in the routine of consistent strength training, training twice per week is key to maximizing results like increased lean muscle mass. The reason for this is that training twice per week compared to once per week allows your body to burn more calories each week. Your resting metabolic rate (how many calories you burn at rest) is impacted both acutely and chronically by resistance exercise. This benefit is unparalleled to any other type of exercise.
The acute effect when you go through a resistance training workout is that you increase your resting metabolic rate by 7-11% for the next 72 hours following your workout. This excess caloric activity is due to the energy needed to rebuild and provide nutrients to the trained muscle tissue.
The chronic effect is additive in that as you continue to add lean muscle, the amount of resting calories your body expends increases. A good analogy is that training twice per week is adding logs to a campfire in which your resting metabolic rate is the campfire and your muscle is the logs. As we add logs, the campfire gets bigger, much like as we add more lean tissue we burn more calories.
By performing resistance exercise twice per week instead of once per week, you allow your body to recover and adapt between workouts, burn more calories throughout your week, and maximize the amount of lean muscle mass you are adding–ultimately leading to better results.