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How often should you lift?

THE SCIENCE

In a new study, one group of men spent two hours doing traditional strength exercises like bench presses, squats, and deadlifts three times per week. The other group did the same moves for one hour, six times per week. After six weeks, all the men lost fat and gained muscle at almost equal rates.

EXPERT INSIGHT

“The main factor in building strength is the overall mechanical stress placed on the muscle,” says study author Bill Campbell, CSCS, Ph.D., director of the Performance & Physique Enhancement Laboratory at the University of South Florida in Tampa, adding that the results likely hold true for women as well.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you lift for two hours per week, it doesn’t matter how many trips you take to the gym to log that time: As long as you work every set to near failure, you can get just as much out of doing shorter sessions more frequently as doing longer workouts less often, Campbell says. As always, make sure you give muscle groups enough time to recover between sessions.