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How often should you work the same muscle group?


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So, I work the same muscle groups (legs, arms, chest, etc.) currently on Mondays and Thursdays with heavy weights at 8 reps and 3 sets.  Can I work these same muscle groups 3x a week, say MWF, or should I stick with my plan since I am using heavy weights and max out?  I also do cardio 6x a week.  I'm just looking to tone, not to be huge! thanks!

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There is nothing wrong with a total body workout three times weekly. Also, as a woman (unless you're on steroids), you will not get huge, especially if eating on a calorie deficit.

You mentioned targeting specific muscle groups - what kinds of exercises are you doing?

I feel like I target the main muscle groups of the upper and lower body.  As far as exercises go, oh boy, lots (well for me anyway ;).  I do squats (regular and plie) with about 70lbs+bar, Bicep curls (15-20lbs), tricep extension (15lbs), hamstring curls (50lbs), leg extensions (70lbs), bench press (60lbs), shoulder press (40lbs), and lunges (holding 10lbs in each hand).  I break it up by doing half at the beginning of the day and the other half at the end when I do my cardio.  I'm thinking of adding some more, like calf raises and lat pull down.

Seems like you're doing lots of isolation exercises. I've quoted this before recently, but Sully really has some great advice. So, here's a very informative post from an older thread:

Original Post by floggingsully:

Think of working movements instead of muscle groups.  Your body is designed to move in ways that incorporate multiple muscle groups working together, so if you lift like that you'll get better results with less risk of injury.  There are 4 main movements your upper body is designed to do, I'd pick one exercise from each (and change the exercises every now and then) and do 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each.

1) horizontal push - bench press, incline bench press, decline bench press, etc.

2) vertical push - military press, dips, arnold press

3) horizontal pull - bent over rows, seated cabel rows

4) vertical pull - lat pulldowns, lat pullovers, pullups, chinups

For your lower body there are two main movements, quad dominant movements and hip dominant movements, pick one of each and forget the isolation exercises (leg extensions, leg curls, abductors) with the possible exception of calf raises

1) quad dominant - Squats, front squats, overhead squats, hack squats

2) hip dominant - deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, good mornings

You can add lunges or step ups also if you like (there is a term for this type of exercise, but I can't remember it, could be unilateral movements, I don't know)

Also, compound movements burn more calories than isolation exercises, so you get much more bang for your buck.

Original Post by ankow:

Seems like you're doing lots of isolation exercises. I've quoted this before recently, but Sully really has some great advice. So, here's a very informative post from an older thread:

Original Post by floggingsully:

Think of working movements instead of muscle groups.  Your body is designed to move in ways that incorporate multiple muscle groups working together, so if you lift like that you'll get better results with less risk of injury.  There are 4 main movements your upper body is designed to do, I'd pick one exercise from each (and change the exercises every now and then) and do 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each.

1) horizontal push - bench press, incline bench press, decline bench press, etc.

2) vertical push - military press, dips, arnold press

3) horizontal pull - bent over rows, seated cabel rows

4) vertical pull - lat pulldowns, lat pullovers, pullups, chinups

For your lower body there are two main movements, quad dominant movements and hip dominant movements, pick one of each and forget the isolation exercises (leg extensions, leg curls, abductors) with the possible exception of calf raises

1) quad dominant - Squats, front squats, overhead squats, hack squats

2) hip dominant - deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, good mornings

You can add lunges or step ups also if you like (there is a term for this type of exercise, but I can't remember it, could be unilateral movements, I don't know)

Also, compound movements burn more calories than isolation exercises, so you get much more bang for your buck.

 You keep saying compound movements are better but what is a compound movement exactly??

Original Post by girlfighting27:

 You keep saying compound movements are better but what is a compound movement exactly??

 When 2 or more of your 'big' joints (knees, hips, shoulders, elbows) are moving/working together to move a weight.

#6  
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Abs and calves can be worked every day, but every other muscle group needs 48 hours of rest between workouts.

Original Post by imtkain:

Abs and calves can be worked every day, but every other muscle group needs 48 hours of rest between workouts.

There is nothing special about your abs or calves, they need rest just like every other muscle. 

Abs and calves need rest just like every muscle, just not as much. It's scientifically proven that calves, abs, and forearms recover far quicker than say, lower back, which can take up to a full week to recover from a workout. Forearms can be worked daily, calves typically need 48 hrs. rule of thumb, the bigger the muscle, the longer the recovery time.  Also, compound AS WELL AS isolation movements should be used, with compound movements at the beginning of a workout, isolation movements afterward. Stating that simply performing bench/military will fully develop the tri's, or that lat pulldowns and rows will develop the biceps is foolish. Isolation movements are essential for a proportioned physique....

 Yes, at some point it's a good idea to identify weaknesses in your kinetic chain and adress them by strengthening specific muscles in a particular movement pattern. It is however not a good idea for people starting out, the most specific weakness you can identify in most beginners to strength training is "your entire body is weak".

 When you don't have a genuine weak link, you shouldn't be doing isolation exercises.

 'course, if you come to strength training as an adult, chances are bad posture, faulty sitting position, and our general hunched-over society have contributed to developing some interesting movement inhibitions and disproportionate muscle developements, in which case isolation exercises to adress those specific problems come in handy. But for that you'd want a functional movement screen to figure out what the problem actually is; there's a lot of different ways to have roughly the same end result in terms of mobility and kinetic chain dysfunction.

 Anyway - for a beginner, it makes more sense to train movement patterns, for physique athletes it makes sense to train individual muscles for aesthetics. If you're in one group, you'd do well to not adopt the training methods appropriate for the other one.
#10  
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Original Post by imtkain:

Abs and calves can be worked every day, but every other muscle group needs 48 hours of rest between workouts.

Completely disagree. All muscles need some kind of rest. However, since they are smaller muscle groups they can be worked more often through the week. Like 2 times a week instead of the normal one.

#11  
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Original Post by girlfighting27:

Original Post by ankow:

Seems like you're doing lots of isolation exercises. I've quoted this before recently, but Sully really has some great advice. So, here's a very informative post from an older thread:

Original Post by floggingsully:

Think of working movements instead of muscle groups.  Your body is designed to move in ways that incorporate multiple muscle groups working together, so if you lift like that you'll get better results with less risk of injury.  There are 4 main movements your upper body is designed to do, I'd pick one exercise from each (and change the exercises every now and then) and do 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each.

1) horizontal push - bench press, incline bench press, decline bench press, etc.

2) vertical push - military press, dips, arnold press

3) horizontal pull - bent over rows, seated cabel rows

4) vertical pull - lat pulldowns, lat pullovers, pullups, chinups

For your lower body there are two main movements, quad dominant movements and hip dominant movements, pick one of each and forget the isolation exercises (leg extensions, leg curls, abductors) with the possible exception of calf raises

1) quad dominant - Squats, front squats, overhead squats, hack squats

2) hip dominant - deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, good mornings

You can add lunges or step ups also if you like (there is a term for this type of exercise, but I can't remember it, could be unilateral movements, I don't know)

Also, compound movements burn more calories than isolation exercises, so you get much more bang for your buck.

 You keep saying compound movements are better but what is a compound movement exactly??

Compound exercises are multi-jointed movements. Such as the squat, deadlift, shoulder press, bench press and rows. There are more, but those are pretty much your bread butter compound exercises.

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