Most powerlifters start off with training 2 to 3 times a week as a novice athlete.
As you progress in experience, you increase your work capacity to train more and train harder. You will get to the point where in order to fit in more work, you will need to increase training frequency. You may go from 2 times per week to 3 times per week, or from 3 times per week to 4 times per week.
But do powerlifters lift every day? No, powerlifters generally do not lift every day. Most powerlifters will train between 3 to 5 times per week with some powerlifters training 6 times per week. This is because for optimal strength gains, you do not need to train certain muscle groups or movements more than 2 to 3 times per week.
In this article, we will go through the reasons why most lifters do not train every day, why a small number of powerlifters will train every day and how you can organize your training to powerlift every day without overdoing it.
Powerlifting Every Day: Why Most Lifters Don’t Do It
Training frequency is a hot topic with most coaches and athletes recommending anywhere between 3 to 6 times per week, with increasing frequency as you get more experienced. Most would not suggest training every day. Only a small portion of powerlifters will train every day and most powerlifters will not or cannot do it.
Here are 4 reasons why most powerlifters do not lift every day:
- Not experienced enough to warrant training every day
- Wanting to take a rest of training to focus on other aspects of life
- Rest days are important for recovering to train hard
- May not have enough time to train every day
Not experienced enough to warrant training every day
If you are a novice or intermediate level athlete, training everyday is not ideal. At this level of experience, you will not have a long enough training age to develop the work capacity to train that frequently. At this level, you can get away with keeping most of your training over 3 to 4 days.
If you spread your training over all the days of the week, then you may find that you water down your training thinly to the point where your training sessions become very short.
Wanting to take a rest of training to focus on other aspects of life
Most powerlifters are not full time athletes and will often have other aspects of life that they value. Most people who powerlift will often study or have a job, enjoy time with friends and family, want to rest or even have other hobbies too.
Training too frequently may lead to mental burnout where they can no longer emotionally sustain that they are training every day.
There are some powerlifters, however, who do train full-time and can make money from the sport. Read my other articles on Can You Make Money In Powerlifting?
Rest days are important for recovering to train hard
Training every day means you take away any rest days. Not having a rest day means that your muscles are chronically being stressed, which will lead to fatigue depending on the difficulty of the session.
If you are chronically experiencing stress and fatigue, you minimise the potential to recover so that you can push the load or intensity of a session after the rest days. If you minimise the ability to push the intensity of a session, you may be holding yourself back from performing heavier loads.
If you are chronically fatigued, you may want to check out my other article on How Often Should Powerlifters Deload?
May not have enough time to train every day
Most people will be working full time or are in full time education and will often have other commitments. This may mean that they cannot necessarily dedicate enough time to being able to travel to the gym and train all the time. They may have commitments to family or other activities.
One of the more popular powerlifting splits is training each of the lifts 3 days per week. Check out my other article on Squat, Bench, Deadlift 3 Days Per Week: How To Do It Right?
Why Some Powerlifters DO Train Every Day
There are some intermediate to advanced powerlifters who do powerlift every day. If you are in the position to dedicate time to training every day, then there are some benefits to doing so.
Here are some reasons why some powerlifters do train every day:
- Have better skill acquisition
- Regular physical activity for better mental health
- Train different body parts on different day
- Breaking through plateaus
- Enjoyment of daily training
Have better skill acquisition
If you are someone who does not have solid technique yet, then what happens during training sessions is that your capacity to maintain good technique is less. After some fatigue you will find that your technique and movement quality will break down.
As a solution, you can potentially spread your training over every day. This means that you never train hard enough for you to break down in technique. As you do not train hard in each session, you will recover quickly for the next session the day after. As a principle, “practice makes permanent”. How you repeatedly move will reinforce that movement quality.
Check out my other training guides on training every day:
- Bench Press Every Day: Pros, Cons, & Should You Do It?
- Squatting Every Day: Pros, Cons, & Should You Do It?
- Can You Deadlift Every Day? Pros, Cons & Sample Program
Regular physical activity for better mental health
Training is considered a physical stressor but for many individuals, it is how people get away from external stressors such as from work to “blow off steam”. You may prefer to spread your training sets over more days so that you can destress with training.
Train different body parts on different day
Training can be intelligently managed so that the muscle groups of the exercises are taken into account. If training is spread out so that muscle groups are not trained back to back from one day to the next, it still gives those muscles at least another days rest.
For example, squats and deadlifts can be trained together one day, and bench press can be trained on the next. This way you can alternate between stressing your upper body on one day and lower body on the day after.
Check out my article on Can You Train Back And Chest Together?
Breaking through plateaus
Increasing training frequency to 7 days per week can be a useful way of breaking through plateaus.
Within a given training session, the longer you train, the more you fatigue, which reduces how much training you can fit in a session. You can increase training frequency so that you can fit more training sets throughout the whole week (instead of cramming everything into fewer workouts). If you have been stalling in progress, this can be a solution.
If your progress has stalled, check out my other resources on:
Enjoyment of daily training
Some people simply enjoy training every day.
Training should ultimately be an enjoyable process and there is freedom for training programs to be designed in a way that best suits the athlete.
Training every day does not necessarily mean that you increase your risk of injury so long as you manage your training variables appropriately.
How To Powerlift Every Day Without Overdoing It
Training every day is not necessary but it does not mean that it is detrimental either.
Changing from training some days to training every day can dramatically increase the total training stress that you put on your body. This potential spike in training volume can increase risk of injury. So training every day will require sensible adjustments.
Here are considerations for powerlifting every day without overdoing it.
- Monitor Volume
- Monitor Intensity
- Use Technique Only Workouts
- Use Active Recovery Workouts
Volume often refers to the total sets multiplied by the total repetitions. It can also refer to total sets multiplied by total repetition and load lifted.
However you track volume, it’s one metric of monitoring how much work is done over a period of training.
Having higher volumes in training is not necessarily the risk factor for injury but more so having spikes in training volume that is a risk factor for injury. When managing or increasing volume, a rule of thumb is to not have volume increases to be more than 5% to 10% per week.
As well as monitoring volume, intensity should be monitored too.
Intensity refers to the percentage or average percentage of your 1 rep max.
There should be an inverse relationship between volume and intensity meaning the higher the average intensity of your training, the less volume you can perform.
Managing intensity is similar to managing volume in the sense that you do not want sudden spikes in intensity.
Use Technique Only Workouts
Not all training sessions need to be hard training. Especially if you are at a phase in training where you want or need to focus on technique.
You can incorporate “technique only training sessions” where you have low volume and low intensity sets.
In terms of exercise selection, you may choose variations of the powerlifts that reinforce technique, for example, long pause bench press or a paused deadlift.
Check out our guides on powerlifting accessory movements:
- 9 Squat Accessories To Improve Strength & Technique
- 10 Bench Press Accessories To Improve Strength & Technique
- 12 Deadlift Accessories To Improve Strength & Technique
Use Active Recovery Workouts
Active recovery workouts can be useful training sessions, which are also low in difficulty and duration.
Often active recovery workouts will involve some form of training of the trunk, cardiovascular training or mobility work.
These qualities will be useful in keeping you physically healthy, reduce stiffness and soreness. Performing light cardiovascular training can be helpful with improving your general energy levels.
Lifting every day for most people would be an extreme amount but there are some individuals who do this, namely more advanced individuals. Generally, you should not incorporate daily training if you do not need to but only if for practical reasons that you want to spread your training more thinly. You want to be cautious with wanting to lift everyday for the purpose of increasing progress as you may risk surpassing an optimal amount of work. Surpassing your maximal recoverable amount of training will actually decrease your rate of progress.
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com