In terms of training volume and frequency, you want to train long enough and often enough to stimulate muscle gains without compromising your ability to recover. This means, for most people, training should last between 45 to 90 minutes and be performed three to four times a week. If you find you aren’t responding to your training, you may well be doing too much. If this happens to you, drop a few sets from your workouts and also build in an extra rest day or two. Remember, your muscles only grow when you are recovering between workouts.
How you arrange your training week also plays an important role in how to build muscle. It’s not a good idea to do two days of similar exercises back-to-back. For example, if you train your chest on Monday and your shoulders on Tuesday, you work many of the same muscles on consecutive days. This will limit your performance on the second day and also interfere with your recovery and subsequent muscle growth.
It’s a far better idea to put your muscle groups in a non-competitive order, for example alternating between pushing days and pulling days or, alternatively, upper body days and lower body days.
There are literally dozens of ways to organize your training, all of which will work to one degree or another. It’s simply a matter of finding the system that fits best into your week. If you have a very active lifestyle you may benefit from less frequent and/or shorter workouts whereas if you are mainly sedentary, you will probably find you can recover from longer and more frequent workouts.
The bottom line is – train hard, heavy and relatively infrequently. Respect your body’s need for rest and recovery and make sure you eat a nutritious diet containing sufficient protein, carbs and fats to fuel your workouts and subsequently build muscle. While working out with very high volume and overly frequent training sessions may work for the genetically gifted few, the rest of us need to practice a more conservative approach to getting bigger and stronger.