I would say that the best way to stimulate gains for most people is by training 1 hour, once a day, with 45 minutes being better for most. Depending on the unique recovery capabilities of the person, 4-6 days a week of weight training will do the job. Remember that muscle growth occurs as you rest and not while you are training.
Also, after 60 minutes of training the levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol increases and testosterone decreases, a hormonal situation that will prevent you from making any gains. My philosophy when it comes to time spent at the gym is get in, do your job well, and get out. These days even most of the top pro bodybuilders refrain from spending much more than 1 hour at the gym.
Like former 8-Time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney used to say: "Stimulate, don't annihilate".
Bodybuilding Programs That Can Be Used During a Bulking or Fat Loss Cycle
- Beginner’s Bodybuilding Workout (3 Days a week) – Excellent for those people with no bodybuilding training experience.
- Intermediate Bodybuilding Workout (3-4 Days a week as desired) – Excellent for those with 12 weeks of training experience.
- Advanced Bodybuilding Workout Using Periodization (3-6 days a week) – This is for the trainee with at least 24 weeks of training experience who is really serious about getting huge muscles. The periodization, or manipulation of sets, rest and repetition parameters will ensure the fastest gains in muscle mass.
- Advanced Bodybuilding Workout Using The 10 Sets of 10 Reps Training Method (3-6 days a week) – This is for the trainee with at least 24 weeks of training experience who is ready for another high volume phase and who needs to get past a plateau. The 10 sets of 10 reps bodybuilding training method has been used in bodybuilding circles for years in order to break through plateaus and gain new lean muscle mass. Many people have claimed to its invention, but regardless of who came up with it, it has been used with great success by awesome bodybuilders from the past such as Vince Gironda, as well as Dave Draper and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Today, many athletes on the know still use this method and even elite strength coaches, such as Charles Poliquin, are great advocates of it and use it on their Olympic athletes when they are in need of increasing their lean mass quickly. I’ve used this method myself without fail since early on my bodybuilding career. It never ceases to yield great results.
- Advanced Bodybuilding Workout Using The 5 Sets of 5 Reps Training Method (3-6 days a week) – This is for the trainee with at least 24 weeks of training experience who is ready for another heavy weight phase and who needs to get past a plateau. This method has also been used in bodybuilding circles for years for the purposes of breaking through plateaus and accumulating new lean muscle mass. The inventor of this method, according to what I have read from various sources, was no other than former Mr. Universe Reg Park who was Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding idol and inspiration. Reg used this method quite successfully back in the fifties and sixties. This routine is best used after a high volume training phase, such as the one provided by the 10 sets of 10 reps method described above.
- Advanced Bodybuilding Workout for the Busy Bodybuilder (3-6 days a week) – This is a non periodized workout that makes the most out of the time that you have to train. You can incorporate periodization by changing the repetition ranges periodically as shown on the Advanced Bodybuilding Workout above. You can also change your exercise selections as well.
- All-Time Favorite Draper Bodybuilding Workout Routine - This is bodybuilding legend Dave Draper's favorite bodybuilding training routine. It is based on a seven-day week, following a three on, one off, two on, one off schedule. It is non-priodized but one could easily periodize it by doing 12-15 reps for 3-4 weeks and then doing 10, 8, 6 reps for the next 3-4. This is a fun bodybuilding routine that yields great results.
- Highly Advanced Bodybuilding Workout for the Bodybuilding Competitor (5-6 days a week) – Non-Periodized program for more instinctive and highly advanced bodybuilders (8 years of constant training or more) who know how to do their own periodization of reps and sets based on how their bodies feel. This routine taxes the muscles from every angle, and to the maximum, in order to achieve the absolute best physique. This is a great way to train for very advanced bodybuilders who are significantly strong and who can generate such a high level of intensity in each workout that training less frequently will allow for better results and recovery. Again, this routine should only be used by those bodybuilders who have spent years training using higher frequency splits such as the ones offered above. This routine is good during bulking and cutting cycles alike as the bodybuilder should know at this stage how to adjust the reps and sets accordingly based on their own body's knowledge.
About The Author
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Learn more about Hugo Rivera.