Calculate it: A personalized approach helps you 
determine how often you should lift weights. *Photo supplied
Calculate it: A personalized approach helps you determine how often you should lift weights. *Photo supplied

If you’re in the gym using resistance training to tone up and build strength, do you know how often you should be lifting weights? Every day? 

Every other day?

We’re normally told by fitness professionals or magazines that two to three times per week is the most effective use of our gym time. Although this can be true to some extent, there are a number of factors that can help us.

Most weight lifters have a long training age. Our training age is determined by the number of years you’ve been exercising in a gym setting without an injury or interruption. 

So, if you have been training in the weights room for five years then that would be your training age. Bear in mind, if you have been injured at all then your training age is reset.

Someone with a long training age should be able to lift weights more often than a complete beginner. This is why elite athletes should exercise completely differently to someone who has never lifted weights before.

Generally speaking, though, a good test is kneeling on a Swiss Ball. If you can kneel on one of those big inflatable balls for thirty seconds then it is a very strong indication that your nervous system is ready to work the stabilizers and big muscle groups of the body.

If you cannot kneel on a Swiss Ball then I would suggest following a core stability routine to build your fitness base.

Another effective method is recording your resting heart rate in the morning.  By counting your pulse for sixty seconds on your carotid artery, just below your jaw line, you’ll be able to calculate it.

Then work out your average heart rate over the week. After you have done this, you can test your pulse each time before you exercise. 

If your heart rate rises by three beats on any given day, then you should reduce your workload in the gym by 50 per cent. If it is rises by four beats then you should do what’s called ‘passive rest’ like cycling or jogging.

If your heart rate rises by five beats per minute, then you just need to have a rest! That means a day off from the gym. Otherwise, this will lead to overtraining and potential injury.

Try out these tests next time you’re in the gym to gauge your readiness for exercise. This personalized approach will help you figure out how often you should be lifting weights.

If you want to follow a specific training plan then check out my new eight-week online course at 

Colin has designed the only online coaching program for the Bermuda Half Marathon. Colin blogs at Subscribe to “50 Ways to be Fit and Fabulous” for absolutely free. 

Colin Ayliffe is a certified personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach with over 10 years’ experience in training clients. He graduated from the University of Surrey with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science and is also a CHEK practitioner, golf biomechanic and is accredited by the
National Academy of Sports Medicine.